Exporting financial services to the burgeoning Asian middle class will assure Australia's future prosperity, argues federal Treasurer Joe Hockey.
Addressing the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia national summit in Sydney last week, the Treasurer pointed to Australia's new free trade agreements with Japan, Korea and China.
"In 1972 China represented just one per cent of our trade. Today, our trade with China is 30 times larger. They are our biggest trading partner," Mr Hockey said.
Merchandise trade with China is expected to grow from around 30 per cent to 40 per cent over the next decade, he said.
"That opens up many opportunities – not only with traditional trade in goods, but in the ever-growing services industry.
"Services represent 70 per cent of the Australian economy, but just 17 per cent of our exports. Mining and resources are 10 per cent of our economy but 55 per cent of our exports," he said.
Australia's export in financial services, tourism, health and education is as large a part of GDP as mining and resources, the Treasurer said.
"If we can lift our exports into Asia, in particular taking advantage of that same time zone, then our prosperity into the future is massive and assured," Mr Hockey said.
"Two billion people are emerging into the middle class as consumers, in the next 15 years in Asia. And they're looking for what we can provide.
"This is our era of opportunity. And the real rewards of any free trade agreement flow to those businesses and innovators who will jump on the chance to take up these new market opportunities."