SYDNEY - Australia's mining boom is just the "first taste" of Asia's ascendancy, Treasurer Wayne Swan said yesterday, with the region's new prosperity expected to transform the global economy.
Australia's chief economics minister said the shift of power towards Asia would have "truly enormous" implications for his country, which would find itself on the doorstep of almost two thirds of global gross domestic product by 2050.
Surging resources exports to fast-growing China and its neighbours had recession-proofed Australia during the global financial crisis, and were expected to buoy it into the future, Mr Swan said.
"It is not just China that will drive the Asian Century. It is also countries like India, Indonesia and Vietnam," he told the Australia China Business Council.
But mining is just the beginning of what he described as "a broader and deeper tectonic shift" in global power which would bring huge opportunities for Australia.
"The unprecedented opportunities on offer from the Asian Century will extend far beyond the mining boom, which is only the first taste of Asia's rise," he said.
"Increasingly, it will be the growing prosperity of Asian populations that shapes the opportunities and challenges facing Australia."
Asia's growing middle classes would expect "more and better consumer goods" previously confined to the wealthy, as well as sophisticated educational, health, financial, travel and recreational services, Mr Swan said.
He added that Australia needed the "skills, capital and flexibility" to ensure that it was not left behind, with economic reforms - like the government's tax on corporate pollution and mining profits - key to stoking productivity growth.
He also called for greater links with Asia and for Australia to nurture the "internationalisation" of the Chinese currency, saying a A$30-billion (S$39-billion) currency swap with Beijing announced last week was a key first step.