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Australia unveils plans to profit from Asia's rise

Australia’s government has announced a plan aimed at deepening its already strong ties with countries in Asia. The long-term aim is to profit from the rise of Asia’s booming economies.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital, Canberra, Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters that the goal of the new directive was to lift Australia into the world's 10 wealthiest nations by 2025.

"The scale and pace of Asia's rise is staggering, and there are significant opportunities and challenges," Prime Minister Gillard said. "Whatever else this century brings, it will bring Asia's return to global leadership, Asia's rise. This is not only unstoppable, it is gathering pace."

The plan, known as "Australia in the Asian Century," includes 25 policy targets aimed largely at increasing trade with the country's closest neighbors. However it also encourages schools to offer courses in Asian languages.

The 312-page document also touches on the future of Australia's foreign policy, indicating that in future, Canberra will have to find a way to balance its relations with its closest military ally, the United States with what is already its biggest trading partner, China.

"We accept China's military growth is a natural, legitimate outcome of its growing economy and broadening interests," the document says. "It is important that China and others in the region explain to their neighbours the pace and scope of their military modernisation, to build confidence and trust."

Australia is currently ranked 13th among the world's wealthiest nations, according to data compiled by the International Monetary Fund.

pfd/hc (Reuters, AFP)