The final commodities boom in “human history” may have just finished, according to prominent economist Saul Eslake.
In a gloomy opening to the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, Mr Eslake said the downturn in mineral commodity prices had probably not reached its nadir, and there was little prospect of the recent China boom being repeated in the future.
While the mining industry often touts the future growth potential from urbanisation and development in nations like Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan and African giants like Nigeria, Mr Eslake said those nations could not match the population impact of China’s recent rise.
“The countries that are still to develop are much smaller than China and India are, they are not, in most cases, starting from as far back on the development curve as China was in 1979 or India was in 1991, and most of them are much more self sufficient in commodities than China or India ever were,” he said.
“So it could well be, in my view, that the commodities boom Australia has just experienced in the last 12 or so years is the last of its kind in human history unless unforeseen technological developments ordain otherwise.”
Mr Eslake said the gloomy outlook meant Australia had to diversify its economy, and he said recent free trade agreements would help but would not alone fix the problem.
“Australia needs to broaden and deepen its economic development with Asia if it is to prosper from the next phase of Asian economic and social development.
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