24 May 2019

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is seeking to align its efforts with those of the business community to help promote Australia’s enduring prosperity.

In close collaboration with Austrade, we have launched a reinvigorated Economic and Commercial Diplomacy Agenda in response to issues raised by the business community during consultations for the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. We are improving our support for companies seeking global opportunities, and lifting the tempo and depth of our ongoing engagement with business.

Through the reinvigorated Agenda we are building stronger links across the Australian Government’s domestic and international networks to better help Australian businesses grasp export opportunities, while also promoting Australia as an attractive place to invest, study and visit.

This edition of Business Envoy provides a snapshot of some of the economic and commercial diplomacy activities currently underway, for instance:

  • Through a Non-Tariff Barrier Action Plan we have established an additional reporting mechanism for businesses experiencing trade barriers in overseas markets.
  • New ‘Market Insights’ reports, available online, draw on the knowledge and experience of our officials working in embassies and high commissions around the world and are designed to help inform Australian businesses of developments in overseas markets.
  • We are taking a key bilateral relationship to the next level with the Indonesia‑Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Indonesia is predicted to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2030, and is important to Australia strategically as well as economically.
  • We are taking steps to lift our economic partnership with India following the release last year of the India Economic Strategy to 2035 prepared by my predecessor, Mr Peter Varghese AO. We have also recently opened a new post in Kolkata.
  • We continue to work actively in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to advance Australia’s interests. APEC is a key incubator of new trade and economic policy approaches and an important safeguard against protectionist pressures that could affect the ability of our businesses to trade freely.
  • We are building relationships for the future through our Australia now program, which aims to strengthen and deepen bilateral ties, and raise Australia’s profile as an innovative, creative nation. This year the program is being rolled out across the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
  • The February visit to Australia by heads of the Irish Farmers’ Association and of Copa-Cogeca, Europe’s largest peak interest group for farmers, built greater understanding between the Australian and European agricultural sectors, and fostered a shared vision for the European Union-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

This edition also takes a step back into history to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Encounter Bay — the first purpose-built container ship to visit Australia (Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney) in March 1969. The shipping container has revolutionised international trade by making the movement of freight cheaper and faster. I highly commend to trade enthusiasts the Australian National Maritime Museum’s innovative touring exhibition ‘Container — The Box that Changed the World’ which celebrates this simple but remarkable invention.

You can find more information on the Australian Government’s new Economic and Commercial Diplomacy Agenda at

Frances Adamson

Photo of DFAT Secretary, Frances Adamson

Last Updated: 14 May 2019
Business Envoy cover photo