Trade at a Glance 2009

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2009

Photo of Simon Crean

Minister for Trade’s Foreword

Welcome to ‘Trade at a Glance 2009’, a concise summary of Australia's trade performance that underlines the vital contribution that trade makes to Australia's prosperity.

Trade is a stimulus to growth. It expands the global economy, creates wealth and lifts living standards around the world. While international trade has been affected by the global economic crisis, it has on average been steadily expanding for the past 30 years.

Trade creates jobs, lifts incomes and encourages business to become more innovative. It gives consumers a greater choice of products at competitive prices and offers firms more options when sourcing production inputs.

Australia is part of a global trading system that is governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). These rules aim to create an open, fair and transparent trading regime for all countries, including developing countries.

Australia is committed not only to supporting the WTO, but also working with APEC and our regional partners through free trade agreements and other mechanisms to open markets and further boost the flow of trade.

I hope you find ‘Trade at a Glance 2009’ to be a valuable trade resource.

Simon Crean

Trade Performance at a Glance

Profile of Australian Trade

Australia has a diverse export base and is a major exporter of food, resources, fuels and education. In 2008, Australia's two-way trade totalled $561 billion, up from $456 billion in 2007.

Japan, China, the United States and Singapore were the nation’s top four trading partners in 2008. About 70 per cent of Australia's trade was with the member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Australia is an active and successful global trader of goods and services.

 Image of a pie chart, showing share of Australian exports by sector.  Rural 10.1 per cent, Resources 43.4 per cent, Manufactures 17.0 per cent, Gold 5.3 per cent, Services 19.1 per cent and Other goods 5.1 per cent.
Australia's leading exports (goods and services) 2008(a)
  ($ billion)
Coal 46.4
Iron ore & concentrates 30.2
Education services (b) 15.5
Gold (c) 14.7
Personal travel (excl education) services 11.7
Crude petroleum 10.4
Natural gas 9.1
Professional, technical & other business services 6.5
Aluminium ores & conc (incl alumina) 6.5
Aluminium 5.8
Beef, fresh, chilled or frozen (f.c.f) 5.0
Other transportation services (d) 4.6
Other ores & concentrates 4.2
Copper ores & concentrates 4.2
Passenger transportation services (e) 4.0
Wheat 3.8
Passenger motor vehicles 3.7
Medicaments (incl veterinary) 3.6
Copper 3.5
Refined petroleum 3.5
Total exports (f) 227.9
  1. Goods trade are on a recorded trade basis. Services trade are on a BOP (BOP) basis.
  2. Includes Education-related travel and Other education services.
  3. BOP basis.
  4. Other transportation services exports covers a range of services provided in Australian airports and ports, including cargo and baggage handling services, agents fees associated with passenger and freight transportation and airport and port charges.
  5. Includes related agency fees and commissions.
  6. Total exports on a BOP basis.

Sources: ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Australia's Trade Performance

Australian exports of goods and services grew 27.6 per cent in 2008, to $278 billion. The strong growth was led by resources exports which were in very high demand, reaching $121.2 billion. Education services exports rose 23 per cent to $15.5 billion and around two-thirds of Australia's farm production was exported.

Imports increased 18.9 per cent to $283 billion. Strong consumer demand, high oil prices and imports of capital goods by business contributed to this growth in the first nine months of the year. The fall in the value of the Australian dollar from a peak of 97 US cents in July 2008 to below 70 US cents at the end of the year also increased the value (in Australian dollar terms) of imports priced in foreign currencies.

A graph showing the value of Australia's exports of goods and services from 1998 to 2008.

The Australian Economy

Australia's economic fundamentals are strong and the Government is committed to responsible economic management. The global financial crisis, which intensified in mid-September 2008 and has resulted in the worst global recession since WWII, is posing unique challenges for the Australian economy.

  • Despite the global economy being in deep recession, Australia is performing better than most other advanced economies.
  • Strong financial institutions and sound regulatory frameworks have enhanced Australia's ability to weather the global financial crisis.
  • Despite the worsening of the global financial crisis, in the last quarter of 2008 Australia had recorded 17 successive years of growth.
  • Australia has an independent central bank.
  • Australia has one of the most multilingual workforces in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia's major goods exports 2008
Goods(a) $ million % share
Coal 46,403 20.6
Iron ore & concentrates 30,221 13.4
Gold (b) 14,702 6.5
Crude petroleum 10,360 4.6
Natural gas 9,053 4.0
Aluminium ores & conc (incl alumina) 6,467 2.9
Aluminium 5,794 2.6
Beef, fresh, chilled or frozen (f.c.f) 4,969 2.2
Other ores & concentrates 4,221 1.9
Copper ores & concentrates 4,194 1.9
Wheat 3,792 1.7
Passenger motor vehicles 3,716 1.7
Medicaments (incl veterinary) 3,578 1.6
Copper 3,506 1.6
Refined petroleum 3,479 1.5
Alcoholic beverages (mainly wine) 2,615 1.2
Wool & other animal hair (incl tops) 2,284 1.0
Meat (excl beef) 2,135 1.0
Nickel ores & concentrates 1,679 0.7
Milk & cream 1,541 0.7
Total goods exports (b) 224,718 100.0

(a) Recorded trade basis.
(b) BOP basis.
(c) Also including veterinary medicines.
Sources: ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Australia's services exports 2008(a)
  $ million % share
Transportation
Passenger (b) 3,991 7.5
Freight 666 1.3
Other (b)(c) 4,583 8.6
Total transportation 9,240 17.4
Travel
Business 2,736 5.1
Personal 26,663 50.1
 Education-related 15,002 28.2
 Other personal (d) 11,661 21.9
Total travel 29,399 55.3
Other
Communication (e) 924 1.7
Construction 82 0.2
Insurance 738 1.4
Financial 1,055 2.0
Computer and information 1,673 3.1
Royalties and licence fees 817 1.5
Other business services 7,655 14.4
Personal, cultural and recreational 780 1.5
Government services, nie 848 1.6
Total other services 14,572 27.4
Total services exports 53,202 100.0

(a) BOP basis.
(b) Passenger services include air transport-related agency fees and commissions.
(c) Transportation operation lease fees are included.
(d) Inbound tourism for mainly recreational purposes.
(e) Communications services include other services nie (not included elsewhere).
Source: ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Australia's major goods imports 2008
Goods(a) $ million % share
Crude petroleum 17,905 7.8
Refined petroleum 15,061 6.6
Passenger motor vehicles 14,751 6.4
Gold 9,732 4.2
Telecom equipment & parts 6,902 3.0
Medicaments (incl veterinary) 6,800 3.0
Goods vehicles 6,587 2.9
Computers 5,818 2.5
Civil engineering equipment & parts 4,165 1.8
Aircraft, spacecraft & parts 4,159 1.8
Monitors, projectors & TVs 3,019 1.3
Measuring & analysing instruments 2,891 1.3
Furniture, mattresses & cushions 2,802 1.2
Prams, toys, games & sporting goods 2,753 1.2
Vehicle parts & accessories 2,745 1.2
Electrical machinery & parts, nie 2,468 1.1
Fertilisers (excl crude) 2,251 1.0
Mechanical handling equip & parts 2,160 0.9
Specialised machinery & parts 2,146 0.9
Heating & cooling equipment & parts 2,122 0.9
Total goods imports (b) 229,407 100.0

(a) Recorded trade basis.
(b) BOP basis
Sources: ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Australia's services imports 2008(a)
  $ million % share
Transportation
Passenger 7,214 13.4
Freight 9,753 18.1
Other 572 1.1
Total transportation 17,539 32.6
Travel
Business 3,111 5.8
Personal 15,629 29.1
 Education-related 894 1.7
 Other personal (b) 14,735 27.4
Total travel 18,740 34.8
Other
Communication (c) 1,162 2.2
Construction 0 0.0
Insurance 952 1.8
Financial 632 1.2
Computer and information 1,544 2.9
Royalties and licence fees 3,554 6.6
Other business services 7,372 13.7
Personal, cultural and recreational 1,439 2.7
Government services, nie 848 1.6
Total other services 17,503 32.5
Total services imports 53,783 100.0

(a) BOP basis.
(b) Inbound tourism for mainly recreational purposes.
(c) Communications services include other services (nie)
Source: ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Australia's top 10 two-way trading partners 2008 ($ billion)
    Goods(a) Services(b) Total(c) % share
1 Japan 71.0 5.0 76.0 13.6
2 China 67.6 6.2 73.8 13.2
3 United States 38.8 15.9 54.7 9.8
4 Singapore 22.3 8.7 31.0 5.5
5 United Kingdom 19.3 9.2 28.4 5.1
6 Republic of Korea 24.8 2.4 27.2 4.9
7 New Zealand 16.9 6.0 22.9 4.1
8 India 15.3 3.6 18.9 3.4
9 Thailand 15.5 2.8 18.3 3.3
10 Germany 13.4 2.2 15.7 2.8
Total two-way trade (b) 453.8 107.0 560.8 100.0
of which: APEC 320.9 60.9 381.9 68.1
  ASEAN 70.7 18.2 88.9 15.8
  EU27 71.0 20.3 91.3 16.3
  OECD 233.1 53.7 286.8 51.1

(a) Recorded trade basis.
(b) BOP basis.
(c) Total may not sum due to rounding.
Sources: ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Australia's global export position - How we compare to the rest of the world 2008 (US$b)
Rank Country Goods(a) Services(b) Total exports % share
1 United States 1,301 522 1,823 9.2
2 Germany 1,465 235 1,700 8.6
3 China 1,428 129 1,558 7.8
4 Japan 782 144 926 4.7
5 France 609 153 762 3.8
6 United Kingdom 458 283 741 3.7
7 Netherlands 634 102 736 3.7
8 Italy 540 123 663 3.3
9 Belgium 477 89 566 2.8
10 Russian Federation 472 50 522 2.6
11 Canada 456 62 519 2.6
12 Republic of Korea 422 74 496 2.5
13 Hong Kong (SAR of China) 370 91 461 2.3
14 Spain 268 143 411 2.1
15 Singapore 338 72 410 2.1
16 Saudi Arabia 329 8 337 1.7
17 Mexico 292 18 310 1.6
18 Taiwan 256 34 289 1.5
19 India 179 101 280 1.4
20 Switzerland 200 74 275 1.4
21 Sweden 184 71 255 1.3
22 Austria 182 62 244 1.2
23 United Arab Emirates 232 8 240 1.2
24 Australia 187 46 233 1.2
25 Malaysia 200 30 229 1.2
26 Brazil 198 29 227 1.1
27 Ireland 124 96 220 1.1
28 Norway 168 46 214 1.1
29 Thailand 178 33 211 1.1
30 Poland 168 35 202 1.0
Total exports 16,127 3,731 19,858  

(a) Recorded trade basis.
(b) Commercial services on BOP basis.
Sources: WTO online database and EIU Viewswire.

Australia's top 10 export markets 2008 ($ billion)
    Goods(a) Services(b) Total(c) % share
1 Japan 50.8 2.4 53.2 19.1
2 China 32.3 4.7 37.1 13.3
3 Republic of Korea 18.4 1.8 20.2 7.3
4 United States 12.1 6.1 18.3 6.6
5 India 13.5 3.0 16.5 5.9
6 United Kingdom 9.3 4.8 14.1 5.1
7 New Zealand 9.3 3.4 12.8 4.6
8 Singapore 6.1 3.9 10.1 3.6
9 Taiwan 8.3 0.5 8.7 3.1
10 Thailand 5.3 1.0 6.3 2.3
Total exports (b)
224.7 53.2 277.9 100.0
of which: APEC 162.4 30.7 193.1 69.5
  ASEAN 22.9 8.5 31.4 11.3
  EU27 23.5 9.0 32.5 11.7
  OECD 117.7 24.5 142.2 51.2

(a) Recorded trade basis.
(b) BOP basis.
(c) Total may not sum due to rounding.
Sources: ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Australia's global import position - How we compare to the rest of the world 2008 (US$b)
Rank Country Goods(a) Services(b) Total % share
1 United States 2,166 364 2,530 12.7
2 Germany 1,206 285 1,491 7.5
3 China 1,133 154 1,287 6.5
4 Japan 762 166 928 4.7
5 France 708 137 845 4.2
6 United Kingdom 632 199 831 4.2
7 Italy 556 132 689 3.5
8 Netherlands 574 92 666 3.3
9 Belgium 470 84 554 2.8
10 Republic of Korea 435 93 528 2.7
11 Spain 402 108 510 2.6
12 Canada 418 84 503 2.5
13 Hong Kong (SAR of China) 393 44 437 2.2
14 Singapore 320 76 396 2.0
15 Russian Federation 292 75 367 1.8
16 Mexico 323 25 348 1.7
17 India 292 53 344 1.7
18 Taiwan 240 34 274 1.4
19 Australia 200 45 246 1.2
20 Poland 204 30 234 1.2
21 Brazil 183 44 227 1.1
22 Austria 184 42 226 1.1
23 Thailand 179 46 225 1.1
24 Sweden 167 54 221 1.1
25 Switzerland 183 37 220 1.1
26 Turkey 202 16 218 1.1
27 United Arab Emirates 159 36 195 1.0
28 Malaysia 157 29 186 0.9
29 Ireland 83 103 186 0.9
30 Denmark 112 62 175 0.9
Total imports 16,415 3,469 19,884  

(a) Recorded trade basis.
(b) Commercial services on BOP basis.
Sources: WTO online database and EIU Viewswire.

Australia's top 10 import sources 2008 ($ billion)
    Goods(a) Services(b) Total(c) % share
1 China 35.3 1.4 36.7 13.0
2 United States 26.7 9.8 36.5 12.9
3 Japan 20.2 2.6 22.8 8.1
4 Singapore 16.2 4.8 21.0 7.4
5 United Kingdom 10.0 4.4 14.4 5.1
6 Germany 11.4 1.2 12.6 4.4
7 Thailand 10.2 1.8 12.0 4.2
8 New Zealand 7.6 2.6 10.2 3.6
9 Malaysia 9.0 1.0 10.0 3.5
10 Republic of Korea 6.4 0.6 7.0 2.5
Total imports(b)
229.4 53.8 283.2 100.0
of which: APEC 158.5 30.2 188.7 66.6
  ASEAN 47.7 9.7 57.4 20.3
  EU27 47.5 11.3 58.7 20.7
  OECD 115.4 29.2 144.6 51.0

(a) Recorded trade basis.
(b) BOP basis.
(c) Total may not sum due to rounding.
Sources: ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Foreign investment in Australia 2008(a) ($ million)
Country Level of direct investment in Australia Level of total investment in Australia
United Kingdom 60,373 427,070
United States 95,417 418,445
Japan 35,959 89,511
Hong Kong (SAR of China) 9,465 56,317
Singapore 10,103 43,050
Switzerland 19,509 38,133
Germany 13,738 36,272
Netherlands 25,085 32,901
France 13,406 28,936
New Zealand 5,362 27,061
Total all countries 392,862 1,724,444
of which: APEC 176,328 685,644
  ASEAN 15,435 58,271
  EU27 133,243 567,457
  OECD 302,238 1,161,237

(a) Foreign investment in Australia: level of investment (stocks) as at 31 December 2008, by selected country and country group.
Source: ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australian investment abroad 2008(a) ($ million)
Country Level of direct investment abroad Total Australian investment abroad
United States 121,435 394,614
United Kingdom 23,002 158,079
New Zealand 34,407 66,121
Canada 27,910 38,848
France 333 35,395
Netherlands 5,647 30,020
Japan 1,112 29,108
Germany 7,942 24,390
Singapore 6,726 21,994
Hong Kong (b) 5,847 20,141
Total all countries 281,064 1,010,642
of which: APEC 213,591 606,356
  ASEAN 13,750 34,437
  EU27 42,615 304,046
  OECD 231,638 829,088

(a)Australian investment abroad: level of investment (stocks) as at 31 December 2008, by selected country and country group.
Source: ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia's industry structure 2008
  Gross value added(a) Employed persons(b)
  ($m) %share(c) ('000) % share
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 25,386 2.5 371.6 3.5
Mining 84,585 8.4 180.3 1.7
Manufacturing 106,634 10.6 1,066.9 10.1
Services
 Electricity, gas and water 22,225 2.2 108.6 1.0
 Construction 79,300 7.9 984.5 9.3
 Wholesale trade 49,296 4.9 442.8 4.2
 Retail trade 59,198 5.9 1,532.2 14.4
 Accommodation, cafes and restaurants 20,228 2.0 515.9 4.9
 Transport and storage 51,719 5.1 528.5 5.0
 Communication services 26,726 2.7 198.7 1.9
 Finance and insurance 80,463 8.0 383.8 3.6
 Property and business services 131,616 13.1 1,291.4 12.2
 Government administration and defence 40,863 4.1 486.4 4.6
 Education 44,000 4.4 763.5 7.2
 Health and community services 63,749 6.3 1,136.6 10.7
 Cultural and recreational services 16,352 1.6 282.6 2.7
 Personal and other services 20,067 2.0 413.5 3.9
Total services 705,802 70.1 9,069.2 85.5
Ownership of dwellings 84,565 8.4    
 
Gross value added at basic prices (d) 1,006,972 100.0    
Taxes less subsidies on products 84,111      
Statistical discrepancy (e) -1,354      
Total (d) 1,089,728   10,608 100.0

(a) The term is used to describe gross product by industry and by sector (Chain Volume Measures reference year 2006-07).
(b) Derived from seasonally adjusted data.
(c) As a share of GDP at basic prices.
(d) Basic prices are amounts received by producers, including the value of any subsidies on products, but before any taxes on products. GDP at purchasers’ (market) prices is derived by adding Taxes less subisidies on products to Gross value added at basic prices.
(e) Production approach.
Sources: ABS catalogues 5206.0, 6202.0 and 6203.0.

Key economic indicators Australia
    1998 2006 2007 2008
Demand and production – chain volume measures, reference year 2006-07
Gross domestic product (a) % change 5.1 2.6 4.2 2.0
Exports of goods & services (a) % change 0.1 3.3 3.2 4.7
Imports of goods & services (a) % change 6.5 7.3 11.8 10.5
Labour force
Population (b) '000 18,814 20,874 21,238 21,543(e)
Labour force (c) '000 9,375 10,910 11,144 11,319
Employed persons (c) '000 8,688 10,413 10,671 10,808
- Annual growth % 2.0 3.3 2.5 1.3
Unemployment rate (c) % 7.3 4.6 4.2 4.5
Prices and interest rates
Consumer prices % change 1.6 3.3 3.0 3.7
Interest rates - 90 day bills (d) % pa 5.0 6.0 6.7 7.0

(a) Derived from annual movements in original data.
(b) At end of period.
(c) Derived from seasonally adjusted data.
(d) Annual average.
(e) September 2008 data.
Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics and Reserve Bank, various catalogues.

Australia's Trade and Economic Statistics

Agriculture

  • Australia exports around two-thirds of its total farm production.
  • Agricultural products(a), including food and beverages, accounted for 11.1 per cent of Australia's exports in 2008.
  • Most Australian agriculture tariffs are applied at rates between zero and five per cent
A graph showing the value of Australia's agricultural exports from 1998 to 2008.
Australia's top agricultural(a) exports 2008(b)
Rank Commodity $ million % share
1 Beef 4,969 16.0
2 Wheat 3,792 12.2
3 Wine 2,510 8.1
4 Wool & other animal hair (incl tops) 2,284 7.4
5 Meat (excl beef) 2,135 6.9
6 Milk & cream 1,541 5.0
7 Barley 1,245 4.0
8 Wood in chips or particles 1,146 3.7
9 Live animals (excl seafood) 1,119 3.6
10 Animal feed 1,106 3.6
11 Cheese & curd 904 2.9
12 Cereal preparations 741 2.4
13 Crustaceans 732 2.4
14 Hides & skins, raw (excl furskins) 718 2.3
15 Vegetables 600 1.9
16 Fruit & nuts 574 1.9
17 Edible products & preparations 505 1.6
18 Cotton 449 1.4
19 Oil-seeds & oleaginous fruits, soft 401 1.3
20 Animal oils & fats 393 1.3
Total agricultural exports 30,984 100.0

(a) Based on the WTO definition of agriculture, which includes alcoholic beverages but excludes confidential raw sugar in bulk. Data for confidential raw sugar in bulk are released with a six-month lag. In 2006-07, raw sugar in bulk exports totalled $958 million.
(b) Recorded trade basis.
Sources: ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database.

Minerals and fuels

  • this was Australia's largest export sector in 2008 – at $120.5 billion it accounted for 43.4 per cent of total exports. Coal and Iron ore were the top two resources exports.
  • Japan and China were Australia's leading export markets for minerals and fuels.
  • Almost all applied tariffs on mining and energy products in Australia are between zero and five per cent.
A graph showing the value of Australia's exports of minerals and fuels from 1998 to 2008.
Australia's top minerals and fuels exports 2008
Rank Commodity(a) $ million % share
1 Coal 46,403 38.5
2 Iron ore & concentrates 30,221 25.1
3 Crude petroleum 10,360 8.6
4 Natural gas 9,053 7.5
5 Aluminium ores & conc (incl alumina) 6,467 5.4
6 Other ores & concentrates 4,221 3.5
7 Copper ores & concentrates 4,194 3.5
8 Refined petroleum 3,479 2.9
9 Nickel ores & concentrates 1,679 1.4
10 Liquefied propane & butane 1,220 1.0
11 Confidential mineral ores 1,206 1.0
12 Ferrous waste & scrap 822 0.7
13 Uranium or thorium ores & conc 736 0.6
14 Non-ferrous waste & scrap 722 0.6
15 Coke & semi-coke 245 0.2
16 Crude minerals, nes 229 0.2
17 Precious metal ores & conc (excl gold) 132 0.1
18 Stone, sand & gravel 116 0.1
19 Natural abrasives 48 0.0
20 Residual petroleum products, nie 19 0.0
Total minerals and fuels exports(b) 120,526 100.0

(a) Recorded trade basis.
Sources: ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Manufacturing

  • About 65 per cent of Australia's manufactured exports are Elaborately transformed manufactures - worth $31 billion.
  • Australian exports of Simply transformed manufactures (mainly processed metals) were in demand in North Asia and were valued at $16 billion.
  • the manufacturing sector accounted for 17 per cent of Australia's total exports in 2008.
  • Australia's applied tariffs on manufactures are almost all either five per cent or zero, with the main exceptions being:
    • Passenger motor vehicles and automotive parts and components, for which tariffs are currently 10 per cent, but are scheduled to fall to five per cent in 2010.
    • Textiles, clothing and footwear, which currently range from five percent to 17.5 per cent and are scheduled to fall to five per cent (by either 2010 or 2015 depending on the product).
A graph showing the value of Australia's manufactures exports from 1998 to 2008.
Australia's top manufactures exports 2008
Rank Commodity(a) $ million % share
1 Aluminium 5,794 12.3
2 Passenger motor vehicles 3,716 7.9
3 Medicaments (incl veterinary) 3,578 7.6
4 Copper 3,506 7.4
5 Lead 1,129 2.4
6 Medical instruments (incl veterinary) 1,109 2.3
7 Zinc 1,045 2.2
8 Aircraft, spacecraft & parts 1,010 2.1
9 Uncoated flat-rolled iron & steel 991 2.1
10 Measuring & analysing instruments 913 1.9
11 Telecom equipment & parts 898 1.9
12 Civil engineering equipment & parts 791 1.7
13 Specialised machinery & parts 752 1.6
14 Vehicle parts & accessories 677 1.4
15 Fertilisers (excl crude) 649 1.4
16 Internal combustion piston engines 618 1.3
17 Nickel 605 1.3
18 Pigments, paints & varnishes 563 1.2
19 Starches, inulin & wheat gluten 558 1.2
20 Paper & paperboard 554 1.2
Total manufactures exports(b) 47,260 100.0

(a) Recorded trade basis.
(b)Total manufactures exports on a BOP basis.
Source: ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.

Services

  • Services accounted for 19.1 per cent of Australia's total exports in 2008 at $53 billion.
  • Education was Australia's largest services export, more than 543,898 international students were enrolled in Australia in 2008.
  • the United States, the United Kingdom and China are Australia's top export markets for services.
A graph showing the value of Australia's services exports from 1998 to 2008.

The details of Australia's services exports are set out here.

Trade Policy at a Glance

Australia's Trade Policy

A Strong, Prosperous and Outward Looking Nation

Trade is vital to Australia's economy and the prosperity of its people.

Australia's trade policy aims to open new markets, reduce barriers to trade and improve market access for Australian goods and services. The Government is also working to improve competition, innovation and productivity behind the border. Australia is committed to full participation in the global economy and supports an open, transparent and rules-based global trading system.

The Government is pursuing improved market access for Australian exporters in global markets through multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

At a regional level, the Government actively engages with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Australian Government also undertakes bilateral negotiations with key trading partners through comprehensive Free Trade Agreements.

The international trading regime of the WTO is open, equitable and enforceable. the WTO’s dispute settlement system is central to that regime. It gives member countries and exporters confidence that the commitments and obligations contained in the WTO agreements will be respected. Regional fora (APEC and ASEAN) and comprehensive bilateral agreements provide exporters with further rules-based systems and a more open, fair and predictable trading environment in which to operate.

For more information on Australia's trade policy visit: www.dfat.gov.au/trade

Trade and the Global Recession

World trade has been adversely affected by the global recession, with trade volumes experiencing the largest falls since the end of WWII. East Asian economies have been particularly affected by the fall in trade flows because exports make up a large proportion of their economies.

the Government considers that keeping trade flows open by resisting protectionism and continuing to liberalise international trade are important parts of the solution to the economic downturn.

At the G20 Leaders’ meeting in London in April 2009, governments from the twenty largest economies in the world agreed not to engage in protectionist measures until the end of 2010. G20 Leaders also agreed to promptly notify the WTO of protectionist measures taken. they endorsed the WTO’s recent initiative to monitor and report on the impact of the financial crisis on the trade policies and trade finance of its members. the Australian Government supports the WTO in this important monitoring role.

the G20 Leaders also re-committed to reaching an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations (see over). In addition, a new $250 billion trade finance facility will be established to assist the restoration of normal trade flows involving developing countries.

Australia and the WTO

As a founding member of both the WTO in 1995 and its predecessor, the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947, Australia has a longstanding commitment to the multilateral trading system operated by the WTO. This system provides the legal framework governing world trade. WTO Members agree on legally binding rules governing trade providing important legal certainty for their exporters.

The Australian Government’s key trade policy priority is a successful conclusion to the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations, launched in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001. It seeks real improvements in market access for Australian exports across all negotiating sectors – agriculture, industrials and services.

For more information on Australia's participation in the WTO visit: www.dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations

The Doha Round has a strong development focus. It aims to improve developing countries’ market access, reduce agricultural subsidies and increase global Aid for Trade. Aid for Trade refers to development assistance that addresses trade-related needs (such as policy, infrastructure and productive capacity) to help increase developing country participation in trade and support economic growth. Australia's Aid for Trade represents a large component of the overall aid program – about 10% – and is expected to reach around $400 million in 2009-10. Aid for Trade is part of the Government’s support for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

For more information on Australia's development assistance visit:
www.ausaid.gov.au

Agricultural Trade

The Australian Government’s goal in the agriculture negotiations of the Doha Round is to reform agricultural trade, which is one of the most distorted and highly protected sectors of international trade.

As Chair of the Cairns Group, the Australian Government is pushing for agricultural trade reform through the WTO. In particular, Australia is pursuing significant reductions in agricultural tariffs, deep cuts to domestic support and tight disciplines on export competition.

  • The Cairns Group is a coalition of 19 agricultural exporting countries, bringing together a diverse range of developed and developing countries from Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.
  • The Cairns Group has been an influential voice in the agricultural reform debate since its formation in 1986 and continues to play a major role in pressing the WTO membership to meet the Doha Round’s far-reaching mandate.

Members of the Cairns Group

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Guatemala
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • South Africa
  • Thailand
  • Uruguay

Non-Agricultural Trade

In the Doha Round, the Government is pushing for reductions in tariffs and other barriers to trade in non-agricultural goods (which include industrial, forestry and seafood products). these reforms would expand potential markets for Australian industry.

Non-agricultural trade accounts for around 90 per cent of global trade in goods. A strong Doha Round outcome would provide a significant boost to the world economy, with flow-on benefits to Australia.

Services Trade

The Government is working hard to achieve better access for Australia's services exports which accounted for approximately one fifth of Australia's total exports in 2008, at $53 billion. In coming years, the services sector is predicted to be the most strongly growing sector in global trade. Education and tourism services are Australia's top services exports.

The Doha Round negotiations aim to reduce barriers that services exporters face in overseas markets by recognising qualifications and standards and investment rules and regulations relating to the temporary entry of business people. Given the importance of this sector to the Australian economy, Australia takes a prominent role in the services negotiations. Australia also promotes improved services exports through APEC and the negotiation of comprehensive Free Trade Agreements.

Trade with our region: APEC

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is the pre-eminent economic forum in our region and has delivered major gains to Australia and regional trading partners through trade liberalisation, business facilitation, and economic cooperation and technical assistance – the three pillars of APEC.

  • APEC has 21 member economies which account for 48 per cent of world trade and 68 per cent of Australia's total trade.
  • Together, APEC economies account for 57 per cent of world GDP, and 40 per cent of the world’s population.
  • Eight of Australia's 10 largest export markets are within APEC, including our top three export markets – Japan, China and the United States.
  • APEC is driving an extensive trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation agenda, working towards a future Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.
  • APEC is increasingly focused on structural economic reform as a means of strengthening economies’ competitiveness and trade and investment flows.

Members of APEC

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Indonesia
  • Republic of Korea
  • Mexico
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Chile
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • Russia
  • Chinese Taipei
  • United States

Australia hosted APEC in 2007, with the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting held in Sydney in September 2007. Singapore is the 2009 host. The United States will be the host in 2010.

For more information on Australia's role in APEC visit:

Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

Comprehensive bilateral and regional FTAs can enhance the trading relationship if they are truly liberalising across all sectors and consistent with WTO rules and complement the multilateral trading system.

Australia has negotiated six FTAs:

  • ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand (AANZFTA) 2009
  • Australia-Chile Free Trade Agreement (AClFTA) 2009
  • Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) 2005
  • Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) 2005
  • Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) 2003
  • Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA) 1983

Australia is undertaking FTA negotiations with:

  • China
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • The Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates)
  • Republic of Korea
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

FTAs

In addition, Australia is considering a number of FTAs:

  • Australia – India joint FTA feasibility study, due for completion in 2009
  • Australia – Indonesia joint FTA feasibility study, completed February 2009
  • Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations – PACER Plus

Australia's FTAs aim to:

  • Be fully consistent with WTO principles and rules, deliver WTO-plus outcomes and reinforce the multilateral trading system
  • Comprehensively and substantially liberalise goods and services trade and investment
  • Deliver substantial commercial and wider economic benefits to Australia more quickly than would be possible through multilateral or regional processes
  • Promote stronger trade and commercial ties between participating countries, and open up opportunities for Australian exporters and investors to expand their business into key markets
  • Secure Australia's competitiveness with key trading partners
  • Significantly enhance Australia's broader economic, foreign policy and strategic interests

More information on Australia's FTAs and negotiations

Information and contacts

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - More information on trade policy and statistics.

Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) - For information on the range of services available to new and existing exporters visit: www.austrade.gov.au or contact 13 28 78

Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) - To find out about EFIC’s export credit and insurance services visit: www.efic.gov.au or call 1800 887 588

Further contacts

For information about the Australian Government visit www.australia.gov.au

DFAT has a network of offices around the country
State Office Phone Fax
Adelaide, South Australia 08 8403 4899 08 8403 4873
Brisbane, Queensland 07 3405 4795 07 3405 4782
Canberra, (Head Office) Australian Capital Territory 02 6261 1111 02 6261 3111
Darwin, Northern Territory 08 8982 4199 08 8982 4155
Hobart, Tasmania 03 6238 4099 03 6238 4024
Melbourne, Victoria 03 9221 5555 03 9221 5455
Perth, Western Australia 08 9231 4499 08 9221 2827
Sydney, New South Wales 02 9356 6222 02 9356 4238