12 Jul 2013 11:19

MELBOURNE, July 8 (Bernama) -- The Australian government has announced funding for a new centre to help businesses and other organisations engage with Asia.

The government will provide A$36 million over 10 years to help fund the National Centre for Asia Capability to be based in Sydney and Melbourne.

Australia's Trade Minister Richard Marles told Radio Australia that creating an "Asia capable" business community would require more than learning local language.

"It's about making sure that people doing business with Asia have a really good understanding of the cultures they're working with," he said.

Marles said the centre would be used as a "hub", combining expertise from business, community groups and universities to help business leaders better understand the culture of Asian countries they work with.

"It's an acknowledgement that it's not just about doing the deal," he said.

"Our ability to do the business deal has a lot to do with our ability to understand the people with whom we are dealing with... that's what this centre's going to be all about," he added.

The centre will be jointly run by the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales, with funding for programme delivery provided through Asialink.

The Myer Foundation has pledged A$1 million to help fund the centre.

The centre was a key recommendation of the Asialink Taskforce for an Asia Capable Workforce, chaired by ANZ Chief Executive Mike Smith, in its report Developing an Asia Capable Workforce released last year.

Asialink Chairman Sid Myer said the importance of this landmark initiative cannot be underestimated.

"The National Centre will address a critical need identified by corporate Australia and will help skill Australia for the Asian Century," Myer said.

The centre will promote direct training and capability development on a large scale drawing on existing aimed at direct resources.