Western Australia's long-term growth rate could average five per cent annually over the next 10 years, according to a detailed analysis just completed by economists from the Department of State Development.
Releasing the forecast this evening, Deputy Premier Ian Taylor said the State's predicted rate of expansion could climb by as much as two per cent above the average expected in other parts of Australia.
"What we are facing is a period of dynamic growth almost on a par with the world's fastest-growing economies - those of our Asian trading partners," he said in an address to the Institute of Industrial Engineers.
Mr Taylor said the forecasts contained in a new report - Western Australia's Economic Prospects 1992-2002 - presented a scenario of dramatic change as the State's ongoing prosperity became increasingly entwined with that of its Asian neighbours.
"For the next 10 years minerals and mineral processing will remain the mainstay of our export wealth - and we are likely to see a big surge in mining development from the mid-1990s onwards," he said.
"But like today most people will be working outside those industries.
"We will see increasing numbers employed in the service sector and many more of them getting involved in overseas trade, particularly in Asia, and particularly such areas as health, education, environmental management and tourism."
Mr Taylor said the State's whole social structure would be going through radical change.
"We will be experiencing a big increase in population, up from 1.67 million today to as many as 2.1 million in 2001," he said.
"Just finding jobs for them all will mean that the economy will have to expand at a minimum rate of three per cent a year."
But Mr Taylor said the real challenge would come from the myriad of opportunities the State would face.
"It will be the attitudes we adopt to meeting those challenges that will do most to shape the Western Australia of the 21st century," he said.
"As the report shows, the 1990s are going to be very much the decade of the new Asia - the decade which will see the four `Tiger' economies of Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore emerge fully fledged as industrially `developed'.
"And by the end of the decade, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia will not be far behind.
"We will be confronted by an extraordinarily wealthy mass consumer market - right on our doorstep.
"There will be millions of people eager for novelty, eager for quality, eager for the range of products and services we can and do produce.
"We will be able to offer western culture - without the hassles; quality food products, without industrial pollution; a beautiful landscape, without environmental degradation; and a mixing of races, without confrontation.
"Frankly we could not be better placed if we tried."