Trade

Trade liberalisation and economic reform have been at the heart of Australian Government policy for decades.

Iron ore ship at Port Hedland (BHP Billiton)

Did you know?

Australia is the world's largest exporter of iron ore.

Until the 1960s, Britain and the United States were Australia's main trading partners. Today the emphasis of Australia's trade has shifted to Asia, with four out of five of Australia's top trading partners located there. China, Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea are now Australia's largest trading partners.

Australia has a very open market with minimal restrictions on imports of goods and services. This has increased productivity, stimulated growth and made the economy more flexible and dynamic.

Australia has developed a competitive edge in a range of goods and services, from high-technology products such as medical and scientific equipment through to high-quality wine and processed food. Major services exports include education and tourism, and professional and financial services. Services by Australian companies operating overseas provide a major contribution to Australia's economy.

Australia continues to push ahead with trade liberalisation—unilaterally, bilaterally and multilaterally. This will strengthen international economic collaboration, reduce the risks facing the global economy, and bolster growth. Australia plays an active role in the WTO, APEC, the G20 and other trade related forums. Australia has also negotiated bilateral and regional trade agreements with a wide range of countries to strengthen trade and investment flows.

Did you know?

Australian agriculture feeds 60 million people around the world each year.

51,000 Australian Businesses export their goods and services to the world.

Wheat harvest at Beverley (CBH)

Free Trade Agreements

Australia has ten FTAs currently in force, with: New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, US, Chile, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) (with New Zealand), Malaysia, Korea, Japan and China. The countries with whom Australia has these FTAs account for 67 per cent of Australia's total two-way trade. Australia and 11 other countries also successfully concluded negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement in late 2015 and signed the TPP in Auckland on 4 February 2016.

Australia is engaged in six FTA negotiations—two bilateral FTA negotiations with India and Indonesia, and four plurilateral FTA negotiations with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Pacific Trade and Economic Agreement (PACER Plus), and the Trade in Services Agreement.

Did you know?

73 per cent of Australia's trade is with countries in the APEC group.

Australian beef on sale in Korea (MLA)
Coal mine in the Bowen Basin (BHP Billiton)

Did you know?

Over 90 per cent of Australia's iron ore and metallurgical coal production is exported with a combined value of A$70 billion in 2015.

Mining and resources

With abundant resources, skilled professionals and cutting-edge technology, Australia is a leader in the global mining industry and is among the largest producers of bauxite, iron and zinc ore, nickel and gold. Australia is also a major supplier of energy, including coal, natural gas and uranium.

In 2015, the mining sector accounted for approximately 9 per cent of the Australian economy (based on industry value added at basic prices) and minerals and fuels accounted for 42 per cent of Australia's exports. The sector is expanding, driven by a huge demand for raw materials from the rapidly growing economies of Asia.

The scale of Australia's resources industry has helped the country become a world leader in the development and manufacture of mining equipment, technology and services. Australian firms are competitive across the supply chain, including in exploration, engineering, processing, environmental management, mine safety, training, and research and development.

Total value of exports: A$316.6 billion

Top 5 export markets

  1. China
  2. Japan
  3. United States
  4. Republic of Korea
  5. India

Top 5 export A$M

  1. Iron ores and concentrates (49,060)
  2. Coal (37,031)
  3. Education-related travel services (18,801)
  4. Natural gas (16,456)
  5. Personal travel (excluding education) (15,943)

Total value of imports: A$352.7 billion

Top 5 import markets

  1. China
  2. United States
  3. Japan
  4. Republic of Korea
  5. Thailand

Top 5 Import A$M

  1. Personal travel services (excluding education) (26,688)
  2. Passenger motor vehicles (20,365)
  3. Refined petroleum (18,436)
  4. Telecom equipment & parts (11,676)
  5. Freight services (10,156)

Australia economic fact sheet [PDF]

Last Updated: 22 August 2016