Australia has a chance to cash in on the fast-growing Asian economy, which will be bigger than that of North America and Europe combined by the end of the decade, Trade Minister Craig Emerson says.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will launch a long-awaited Asian foreign policy plan on Sunday outlining Australia's long-term strategy to increase integration with its regional neighbours.
Dr Emerson says the Asian Century white paper is not a 'series of sexy announcements', but a roadmap on how best to take advantage of the phenomenal growth in Asia.
'We now have an opportunity to sell into what's going to be three billion middle class customers by 2035,' he told Sky News on Sunday.
Demand for high quality food sources will increase, as will the desire for sophisticated services.
'So there's a chance for the revival of country towns and the bush ... and fantastic job opportunities for our young people,' he said.
Former foreign minister Alexander Downer says much of the white paper will be a statement of the obvious about the growth of Asia.
The real question Australia needs to address 'is how are we going to engage with Asia', he told Sky News.
'And the answer is investment,' he said.
But Australia doesn't invest much in Asia and it is getting a reputation for having doubtful interest in countries like China.
'My sense is that there is a message coming out of this country ... that it's equivocal about Chinese investment,' Mr Downer said.
Dr Emerson agreed, but said the fault lay with the likes of the opposition's Barnaby Joyce.
Senator Joyce has been criticised for being xenophobic in his position on the sale of Cubbie Station to a Chinese-led consortium last month.
'His ranting and raving is definitely having an impact on Chinese perceptions of the desirability of investing in Australia,' Dr Emerson said.
Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey says the white paper is meaningless unless the government is going to put its money where its mouth is.
'Unless there is substantial money associated with that paper, it is a waste of time,' he told the ABC.
'If it's just more words from Julia Gillard today, without the massive commitments necessary to make it real, then we're just wasting our time.'