Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is warning that we need to act on global food security to avoid political chaos and environmental refugees. He notes that the Middle-East upheaval started with protests about the high cost of bread.
He says we need to increase food productivity by 70% by 2050 to feed a projected world population of 9.3 bn. Currently we have 6.97 bn people on our planet.
Africa has 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, but ‘distortions’ in world trade don’t encourage Africans to invest in agriculture.
We must, says Kevin, help the poor farmers of the world by getting an outcome for the long-running Doha international trade liberalisation talks.
Chairman of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, David Olssen, says:
“We’ve had no serious public debate around Australia’s engagement with Asia for a number of years.”
Richard Cant, Australian lawyer, direct of Shanghai Consultancy, Dezan Shira, says
“Australian SMEs are missing the boat when it comes to investing in China and India.”
Well overdue according to business leaders, we now hear that ex-Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, will write a white paper on Australia in the Asian Century. Business says we need strong political leadership to act on:
1. investments by Chinese state entities and Wealth Funds – finalising the Free Trade Agreement negotiations
2. how Australia positions itself re: emerging food security issues facing China and other nations
3. our response to the emerging political influence and military power of China
the Government needs to create policies to encourage small and medium businesses to connect with the burgeoning Asian middle classes and their needs.
Richard Cant says
“Dramatic changes in the purchasing power of the respective middle classes of both countries means a presence in these markets can’t be ignored…
The Americans, Europeans and the rest of the world are flocking to participate in these new markets. The Australian presence is badly lagging behind.”
Dr Geoff Raby, Australia’s former Ambassador to China says
“The reality is that the rest of the world is rushing to China. We were once well placed but we haven’t kept up with what the rest of the world is doing.”
Trade Minister Dr Craig Emerson’s recently released economic position paper has been designed to spark debate about the need for economic reform to boost national productivity.
He is advocating increased permanent and temporary immigration directed to areas where there are shortages – mining states and regional areas that have the potential to boost food production to serve growing Asian markets. He says
“Let’s not be afraid of a growing population and of talking about where that population is needed..
It helps give a practical expression to the PM’s desire for a sustainable population by proposing the use of market forces to boost the economies of regional Australia as we seek to capitalise on Asia’s growing appetite for high protein.”
Are we capable of longterm, big picture thinking?