In the wake of the ASEAN Summit, the dynamics between major and middle powers in the Indo-Pacific were once again highlighted. US-China rivalry, climate change, accelerating technology development and China’s significant and evolving role in the global economic landscape sharpen the economic security trade-offs regional policymakers face.

Unlocking economic security: A strategic playbook for Australia, a new report released today by the United States Studies Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney, considers the current economic security structures employed by Australia, the United States and Japan and provides recommendations to help Australia navigate its economic future.

“Australian leaders face tough decisions weighing up the value of security relationships against policies that drive Australian economic capabilities and prosperity,” says report author, USSC Non-Resident Fellow Helen Mitchell. “It’s all about balancing the risks and opportunities of the global flows of resources. Too much emphasis on only security effects or economic outcomes can reduce both prosperity and national security.”

The report explores economic security policies across time and place to identify features and lessons in economic security policymaking from the United States and Japan. Weaving these lessons from the past into a playbook built for modern realities, Mitchell then recommends a practical ‘Scan–Share–Shape’ approach to guide and enhance Australia’s economic statecraft:

  • Scan paths towards desired geopolitical outcomes and off-ramps away from undesired or dangerous futures;
  • Share strategic economic security expertise and ideas across existing public and private sectors;
  • Shape the decisions of individuals, firms and states using economic incentives that advance Australia’s multidimensional global interests.

“A proactive and long-term approach, like this playbook, helps policymakers focus on key questions, break down policy issues into goals and effects and consider policy responses that stack the odds in favour of a more secure and prosperous future,” notes USSC CEO Dr Michael Green.

“This has never been more important than in the rapidly changing strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific. Threats to economic security are not theoretical, they are happening now, and governments need a proactive approach to manage these issues,” Dr Green concludes.

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