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Trade and Investment at a Glance 2019

ISBN: 978-1-74322-368-0

16 May 2019

Summary of publication

Trade and Investment at a Glance provides high level statistical data on Australia’s trade and investment profile on an annual basis. It covers our top trading partners, key exports, imports, sources and destinations for investment and how Australia compares with the rest of the world in global export, import and investment rankings.

Trade at a glance also includes a summary of Australia’s trade and investment framework and the international trade and investment fora we regularly engage in to progress Australia’s economic interests.

Foreword

Trade and Investment at a Glance 2019 highlights Australia’s strong trade and investment performance.

Exports have grown to $438.1 billion in 2018 and foreign investment is at record levels, demonstrating that Australian exporters are navigating challenging global economic conditions and foreign investors are confident about investing here.

Ever since Australia’s first free trade agreement, with New Zealand in 1983, trade agreements have reduced costs for Australian exporters and eased the pathway for Australian goods and services into foreign markets. When the agreements Australia is currently pursuing are finalised they will cover 88 per cent of Australian trade, up from around 70 per cent now.

Recent developments include: the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and signing of the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement in 2018; and the signature of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership and Hong Kong-Australia Free Trade Agreement in 2019.

With our World Trade Organization counterparts we are seeking feasible and practical reforms to the WTO to modernise and improve its ability to deliver real outcomes for business. The commitment in January 2019 by 76 members to commence WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce, an area of growing importance to businesses in Australia and around the world, was an important step forward. Australia leads the WTO discussions on e-commerce.

Trade continues to play a vital role in Australia’s continued economic success, with over one quarter of our economic growth over the past five years generated by trade and one in five jobs relating to trade.

This publication seeks to explain in simple statistical representations and in plain English the importance of trade and investment to Australia’s ongoing prosperity.

Frances Adamson
Secretary

The Australian economy

In 2017-18, the Australian economy continued to strengthen and completed 27 years of continuous annual economic growth.

Reflecting a robust domestic economy, almost one thousand jobs were created every day on average, and by early 2018, the Australian Bureau of Statistics had catalogued the longest period of jobs growth ever recorded in this country.

Additionally, over the financial year, the Reserve Bank of Australia maintained the official cash rate at a stable and historically low level, while the labour market remained strong with the unemployment rate at 5.5 per cent, and signs of a pick-up in wages growth.

Over the next five years, Australia’s GDP growth is forecast to exceed that of all major advanced economies in the world.

Australia is a top 20 country that performs strongly across a broad range of global measures.

Australia has:

  • the world’s 13th highest GDP (International Monetary Fund, 2017, US$)
  • the smallest population of the world’s 15 largest economies (International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook 2017)
  • completed 27 years of economic growth, one of the few economies since WWII to have done so (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017-18)
  • 8th place on a global scale of economic resilience (IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2018)
  • 12th ranking internationally for offering a positive business environment (2018-22 Economist Intelligence Unit).

Australia is:

  • the world’s largest exporter of iron ore, coal, unwrought lead and wool (UN Comtrade, 2017)
  • the world’s 2nd largest exporter of aluminium ores, beef, lentils and cotton (UN Comtrade, 2017)
  • the world’s 3rd largest provider of international education services (UNESCO, 2016)
  • the world’s 4th largest global exporter of liquefied natural gas (UN Comtrade, 2017)
  • the world’s 5th largest exporter of wine (UN Comtrade, 2017).
Australia's Key Economic Indicators 2015-16 to 2017-18
2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
GDP and Trade (a)
Gross domestic product (b) % change 2.8 2.3 2.8
Exports of goods & services (b) % change 6.8 5.5 3.4
Imports of goods & services (b) % change -0.1 4.7 6.6
Labour force
Population (c)  '000 24,191 24,602 24,992
Labour  force (d)  '000 12,633 12,799 13,158
Employed persons (d) '000 11,892 12,071 12,436
- Annual growth % 2.2 1.5 3.0
Unemployment rate  (d) % 5.9 5.7 5.5
Prices and interest rates
Consumer prices % change 1.0 1.9 2.1
Interest rates - 90 day bills (d) % pa 2.2 1.8 1.8

(a) Chain Volume Measures (CVM), reference year 2016-17.

(b) Derived from annual movements in original data.

(c) At end of period.

(d) Derived from original data on an annual average.

Based on ABS and Reserve Bank, various catalogues.

Australia's Industry Structure 2017-18
Gross value added(a) Employed persons(b)
$m % share(c) '000 % share
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 47,987 2.8 329.3 2.6
Mining 151,586 8.8 222.9 1.8
Manufacturing 106,749 6.2 906.4 7.3
Services 1,264,776 73.4 10,990.6 88.3
Electricity, gas, water & waste 46,191 2.7 148.8 1.2
Construction 139,313 8.1 1,171.0 9.4
Wholesale trade 71,278 4.1 365.5 2.9
Retail trade 79,888 4.6 1,286.7 10.3
Accommodation & food services 42,243 2.5 890.4 7.2
Transport, postal & warehousing 84,962 4.9 640.3 5.1
Information, media & telecommunications 43,680 2.5 221.0 1.8
Financial & insurance services 163,351 9.5 430.8 3.5
Rental, hiring & real estate 54,507 3.2 212.1 1.7
Professional, scientific & technical 125,639 7.3 1,028.0 8.3
Administrative & support 59,337 3.4 415.5 3.3
Public administration & safety 92,509 5.4 737.8 5.9
Education & training 87,683 5.1 1,025.0 8.2
Health care & social assistance 127,547 7.4 1,672.4 13.4
Arts & recreation 14,543 0.8 246.7 2.0
Other services 32,105 1.9 498.5 4.0
Ownership of dwellings 151,993 8.8
Gross value added at basic prices(d) 1,723,090 100.0
Taxes less subsidies on products and statistical discrepancy 124,585
Gross Domestic Product(e) 1,847,675 12,449 100.0

(a) Based on current price GDP. Industry breakdown based on ANZSIC 2006.

(b) Derived from original data on an annual average. Year ended June 2018. 

(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 taxeson products.

(e) GDP at purchasers' (market) prices is derived by adding Taxes less subsidies on products and Statistical discrepancy to Gross value added at basic prices.

Based on ABS catalogues 5206.0, 6202.0 and 6203.0.

Profile of Australia’s trade

Australia’s two way trade in goods and services grew at a strong but more moderate pace in 2017‑18, compared to 2016-17.

Two-way trade expanded by 8.4 per cent to $798.6 billion, up from $736.6 billion in 2016-17, to reach a new record high.

Australia’s top five trading partners were China, Japan, the United States, the Republic of Korea and India.

Australia’s Two-Way Trade by Region 2017-18

Chart showing China 194.6b, Japan 77.6b, Republic of Korea 52.3b, ASEAN 110.1b, Other Asia 91.8b, Europe 118.6b, Americas 90.9b, Oceania 38.4b, Africa 10.7b, Other (a) 13.5b, Asia 65.9%, Other 34.1%

Regional breakdowns:

  • Asia includes Central Asia; Middle East; North Asia; South East Asia and Southern Asia.
  • Europe includes Eastern Europe; Northern Europe; South Eastern Europe, Southern Europe and Western Europe.
  • Americas includes North America; Caribbean; Central America and South America.
  • Oceania includes Antarctica; Pacific Islands and Other Oceania.
  • Africa includes Central & West Africa; North Africa and Southern & East Africa.

(a) Includes confidential items of trade.

Based on ABS catalogues 5368.0 & 5368.0.55.003 and unpublished ABS data.

Australia's Top 10 Two-Way Trading Partners 2017-18 ($ billion)
Rank Trading partners(a)(b) Goods Services Total % share
1 China 174.5 20.2 194.6 24.4
2 Japan 71.3 6.2 77.6 9.7
3 United States 44.0 26.2 70.2 8.8
4 Republic of Korea 49.3 3.0 52.3 6.5
5 India 21.9 7.2 29.1 3.6
6 New Zealand 17.3 11.0 28.3 3.5
7 United Kingdom 13.8 14.0 27.8 3.5
8 Singapore 17.3 10.5 27.8 3.5
9 Thailand 20.4 4.3 24.7 3.1
10 Germany 17.2 5.1 22.4 2.8
Total top 10 trading partners 446.9 107.8 554.7 69.5
Total two-way trade (c) 617.6 181.1 798.6
 of which:
APEC 477.6 109.3 586.9 73.5
ASEAN 80.4 29.7 110.1 13.8
EU28 72.0 34.1 106.1 13.3
OECD 270.3 87.0 357.2 44.7

(a) All data is on a balance of payments basis, except for goods by country which are on a recorded trade basis.

(b) May exclude selected confidential export and import commodities. Refer to the Trade time series data for more information and a list of the excluded commodities. 

(c) Totals may not add due to rounding.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database, ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.003 and unpublished ABS data.

Australia’s exports

The value of Australian goods and services exports continued to rise in 2017-18. Exports reached a record $403.2 billion, up from $373.7 billion in 2016-17, an increase of nearly 8 per cent. Australia was the world’s twenty-third largest exporter in 2017.

Australia’s Exports(a)(b)

Chart shows: 2007-08 = 237b, 2008-09 = 290b, 2009-10 = 258b, 2010-11 = 304b, 2011-12 = 322b, 2012-13 = 307b, 2013-14 = 336b, 2014-15 = 325b, 2015-16 = 320b, 2016-17 = 374b, 2017-18 = 403b

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Australia’s top five export markets remained the same in 2017-18, compared to the previous year. China was Australia’s largest export destination, receiving 30.6 per cent of our total exports. A further 29.1 per cent of total exports went to Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States and India, collectively. More than 75 per cent of Australia’s exports went to Australia’s top ten export destinations in 2017-18.

Australia's Top 10 Export Markets 2017-18 ($ billion)
Rank Markets(a)(b) Goods Services Total % share
1 China 106.3 16.9 123.3 30.6
2 Japan 49.1 2.3 51.3 12.7
3 Republic of Korea 21.5 2.1 23.6 5.9
4 United States 12.3 9.2 21.4 5.3
5 India 16.3 4.8 21.1 5.2
6 Hong Kong (SAR of China) 11.4 3.1 14.5 3.6
7 New Zealand 9.3 5.0 14.4 3.6
8 Singapore 8.0 5.2 13.2 3.3
9 United Kingdom 6.5 5.3 11.8 2.9
10 Taiwan  9.4 1.5 11.0 2.7
Total top 10 markets 250.0 55.5 305.5 75.8
Total exports(d) 315.2 88.0 403.2
of which:
APEC 257.1 55.7 312.8 77.6
ASEAN 33.2 13.5 46.7 11.6
EU28 18.1 11.5 29.6 7.3
OECD 115.7 32.9 148.5 36.8

(a) All data is on a balance of payments basis, except for goods by country which are on a recorded trade basis.

(b) May exclude selected confidential export commodities. Refer to the Trade time series data for more information and a list of the excluded commodities.

(c) Special Administrative Region of China.

(d) Totals may not add due to rounding.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database, ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.003 and unpublished ABS data.

Australia's Global Export Ranking 2017
How we compare with the rest of the world (US$ billion)
Rank Country Goods(a)  Services(b) Total exports % share
1 China 2,263 228 2,491 10.8
2 United States 1,546 781 2,327 10.1
3 Germany 1,448 304 1,752 7.6
4 Japan 698 185 883 3.8
5 Netherlands 652 218 870 3.8
6 United Kingdom 441 351 792 3.4
7 France 535 249 785 3.4
8 Republic of Korea 574 87 661 2.9
9 Hong Kong(c) 550 104 654 2.8
10 Italy 506 111 617 2.7
11 Belgium 430 119 549 2.4
12 Singapore 373 165 538 2.3
13 Canada 421 87 508 2.2
14 India 299 184 483 2.1
15 Spain 320 139 459 2.0
23 Australia 232 65 297 1.3
Total exports 17,707 5,351 23,058

(a) Goods on recorded trade basis. 

(b) Services on balance of payments basis.

(c) Special Administrative Region of China.

Source: WTO online database.

Australia's Top 20 Exports 2017-18
Rank Commodity(a) $ million % share % change
1 Iron ores & concentrates 61,357 15.2 -2.0
2 Coal 60,356 15.0 11.3
3 Education-related travel services(b) 32,434 8.0 15.5
4 Natural gas 30,907 7.7 38.5
5 Personal travel (excl education) services 21,580 5.4 -0.2
6 Gold 19,293 4.8 1.7
7 Aluminium ores & concentrates (incl alumina) 9,448 2.3 25.5
8 Beef 7,963 2.0 11.9
9 Crude petroleum 6,507 1.6 26.3
10 Copper ores & concentrates 5,720 1.4 25.0
11 Professional services 5,211 1.3 5.4
12 Wheat 4,652 1.2 -23.4
13 Financial services 4,574 1.1 15.5
14 Meat (excl beef) 4,526 1.1 18.1
15 Technical & other business services 4,262 1.1 -5.5
16 Telecom, computer & information services 4,173 1.0 25.2
17 Aluminium 4,097 1.0 25.2
18 Wool & other animal hair (incl tops) 3,985 1.0 22.1
19 Other ores & concentrates 3,141 0.8 20.7
20 Alcoholic beverages 3,111 0.8 19.1
Total exports(c) 403,241 7.9

(a) Goods trade is on a recorded trade basis. Services trade is on a balance of  payments basis.

(b) Includes student expenditure on tuition fees and living expenses. 

(c) Total exports on a balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Australia’s Exports by Sector(a) 2017-18

Chart shows: Minerals and fuels = 189.4b, Services = 88.0b, Rural = 47.1b, Manufactures = 46.1b, Gold = 20.2b, Other goods = 12.4b, Total exports = 403.2b

(a) Balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 and 5368.0.

Minerals and Fuels accounted for 47 per cent of Australia’s total exports, with a value of $189.4 billion in 2017-18. Services accounted for a 21.8 per cent share of exports, worth $88 billion. Rural exports and manufactures accounted for 11.7 per cent and 11.4 per cent, or $47.1 billion and $46.1 billion respectively. Gold was Australia’s sixth-largest export, at 5 per cent or $20.2 billion.

Minerals and fuels

Minerals and Fuels exports grew by 12.6 per cent in 2017-18. Exports from this sector have more than doubled over the past ten years.

Australia’s Minerals and Fuels Exports(a)(b)

Chart shows: 2007-08 = 84800m, 2008-09 = 127716m, 2009-10 = 109413m, 2010-11 = 147177m, 2011-12 = 159333m, 2012-13 = 144436m, 2013-14 = 165853m, 2014-15 = 142782m, 2015-16 = 126506m, 2016-17 = 168174m, 2017-18 = 189359m

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

All bar two of Australia’s top ten Minerals and Fuels exports recorded a greater than ten per cent increase in 2017-18, with natural gas exports expanding by 38.5 per cent to $30.9 billion and crude petroleum growing by 26.3 per cent to $6.5 billion.

Australia’s Top 20 Minerals and Fuels Exports 2017-18
Rank Commodity(a)(b) $ million % share % change
1 Iron ores & concentrates 61,357 32.4 -2.0
2 Coal 60,376 31.9 11.3
3 Natural gas 30,907 16.3 38.5
4 Aluminium ores & concentrates (incl alumina) 9,448 5.0 25.5
5 Crude petroleum 6,507 3.4 26.3
6 Copper ores & concentrates 5,720 3.0 25.0
7 Other ores & concentrates (c) 3,141 1.7 20.7
8 Refined petroleum 2,626 1.4 11.9
9 Crude minerals 1,707 0.9 131.1
10 Precious metal ores & concentrates (excl gold) 1,535 0.8 -7.9
11 Non-ferrous waste & scrap 1,223 0.6 10.2
12 Ferrous waste & scrap 895 0.5 32.6
13 Liquefied propane & butane 798 0.4 26.6
14 Nickel ores & concentrates 263 0.1 8.2
15 Stone, sand & gravel 149 0.1 18.0
16 Natural abrasives 98 0.1 15.5
17 Residual petroleum products 41 0.0 110.5
18 Petroleum gases 14 0.0 -5.8
19 Crude fertilisers 13 0.0 11.1
20 Uranium or thorium ores & concentrates 2 0.0 -2.0
Total minerals & fuels exports(d) 189,359 12.6

(a) Recorded trade basis.

(b) Excludes confidential items of trade. 

(c) Mainly Zinc ores & concentrates, Manganese ores & concentrates and Lead ores & concentrates. 

(d) Total minerals and fuels exports on a balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Services

Services exports grew by 7 per cent to reach $88 billion in 2017-18. Over the past ten years, Australian exports of services have expanded by over 60 per cent. More than half of this growth occurred in the last five years.

Australia’s Services Exports(a)(b)

Chart shows: 2007-08 = 54,441b, 2008-09 = 58,272b, 2009-10 = 55,961b, 2010-11 = 56,652b, 2011-12 = 56,349b, 2012-13 = 57,708b, 2013-14 = 62,502b, 2014-15 = 69,210b, 2015-16 = 75,692b, 2016-17 = 82,276b, 2017-18 = 88,205b

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 and 5368.0.

Exports of travel and other services grew in 2017-18. Exports of transport services were unchanged from 2016-17. Education-related travel services, our top services export in 2017-18, grew by 15.5 per cent to reach $32.4 billion. Personal travel (excluding education-related services) was our second-largest services export, valued at $21.6 billion.

Royalties for intellectual property services reached $1.4 billion in exports and $6.3 billion in import royalties in 2017-18. Australia remained a net exporter of IP to non-OECD countries.

Australia’s Services Exports(a) 2017-18
$ million % share % change
Manufactured services on physical inputs owned by others 5 0.0 -76.2
Maintenance & repair 44 0.0 -27.9
Transport 7,530 8.6 -0.0
Passenger(b) 2,924 3.3 3.2
Freight 271 0.3 -8.4
Other transport 2,828 3.2 -1.9
Postal & courier services 1,507 1.7 -0.9
Travel 56,811 64.5 7.6
Business 2,797 3.2 -8.6
Personal 54,014 61.3 8.6
- Education-related 32,434 36.8 15.5
- Other personal(c) 21,580 24.5 -0.2
Other business services 23,658 26.9 8.1
Construction 726 0.8 84.7
Insurance & pension 553 0.6 6.6
Financial 4,574 5.2 15.5
Intellectual property charges 1,139 1.3 -9.4
Telecommunications, computer & information 4,173 4.7 25.2
Other business services 10,297 11.7 -0.5
Personal, cultural and recreational 1,065 1.2 11.1
Government services 1,131 1.3 1.9
Total services exports 88,048 7.0

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) Passenger services includes air transport-related agency fees & commissions.

(c) Inbound tourism for mainly recreational purposes.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Tourism

Tourism is Australia’s largest services export. In 2017-18, we welcomed the largest number of international visitors in any year to date. Over 9 million international visitors came to Australia, representing an increase of 6 per cent over 2016-17.

Over the year, international tourism expenditure grew by 4.5 per cent to a new record high of $42.5 billion, representing an additional $1.8 billion to the Australian economy compared to 2016-17.

Australia’s International Visitors 2017-18
Rank Economy Number of visitors (‘000) % change on 2017-18
1 China 1,422 12.9
2 New Zealand 1,371 1.4
3 United States 788 3.7
4 United Kingdom 742 2.1
5 Japan 442 3.2
6 Singapore 429 -0.6
7 Malaysia 389 -4
8 India 335 19.6
9 Republic of Korea 304 5.4
10 Hong Kong (a) 298 15.1

(a) Special Administrative Region of China

Source: Department of Home Affairs.

Top 10 Economies by Expenditure, year ending June 2018
Rank Economy Total trip spend ($ million) % change on 2016-17
1 China 11,269 15.20%
2 United States 3,672 -2.80%
3 United Kingdom 3,495 -1.00%
4 New Zealand 2,548 -4.40%
5 Japan 1,762 0.60%
6 Republic of Korea 1,651 9.80%
7 India 1,502 5.00%
8 Singapore 1,415 -3.20%
9 Malaysia 1,335 0.00%
10 Hong Kong (a) 1,301 -1.30%

(a) Special Administrative Region of China

Source: Tourism Research Australia: International Visitor Survey

Manufactures

Manufactures exports grew by 4.3 per cent to reach $46.1 billion in 2017-18. The sector is rebounding following a sustained dip in exports from 2009 following the global financial crisis.

Australia’s Manufactures Exports(a)(b)

Chart shows: 2007-08 = 45477b, 2008-09 = 43985b, 2009-10 = 39160b, 2010-11 = 41322b, 2011-12 = 41641b, 2012-13 = 39552b, 2013-14 = 42081b, 2014-15 = 243499b, 015-16 = 44651b, 2016-17 = 44237b, 2017-18 = 46118b

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Australia’s manufacturing export industry is broad-based. The difference in the share of exports generated by the first and twentieth-largest export in the sector was just 7.5 percentage points. In 2017-18, the strongest performers included aluminium, our top export in this sector, which grew 25.2 per cent over 2016-17 to $4.1 billion, and zinc exports which expanded by 34.9 per cent to reach $1.7 billion.

Australia’s Top 20 Manufactures Exports 2017-18
Rank Commodity(a)(b) $ million % share % change
1 Aluminium 4,097 8.9 25.2
2 Copper 2,891 6.3 -7.6
3 Medicaments (incl veterinary) 2,343 5.1 7.3
4 Aircraft, spacecraft & parts 2,043 4.4 13.5
5 Telecom equipment & parts 1,813 3.9 3.6
6 Zinc 1,709 3.7 34.9
7 Pharmaceutical products (excl medicaments) 1,583 3.4 20.2
8 Medical instruments (incl veterinary) 1,476 3.2 -7.8
9 Miscellaneous manufactured articles 1,094 2.4 9.2
10 Measuring & analysing instruments 1,059 2.3 13.2
11 Pigments, paints & varnishes 995 2.2 16.3
12 Lead 977 2.1 -22.3
13 Paper & paperboard 947 2.1 6.5
14 Perfumery & cosmetics (excl soap) 881 1.9 27.0
15 Specialised machinery & parts 869 1.9 7.9
16 Vehicle parts & accessories 863 1.9 14.5
17 Computers 847 1.8 9.6
18 Inorganic chemical elements 725 1.6 50.9
19 Civil engineering equipment & parts 667 1.4 -7.7
20 Pearls & gems 665 1.4 -9.2
Total manufactures exports(c) 46,118 4.3

(a) Recorded trade basis.

(b) Excludes confidential items of trade.

(c) Total manufactures exports on a balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Agriculture

Australia’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries exports increased by 0.6 per cent to $52.2 billion in 2017-18. Beef was Australia’s largest agricultural export at $8 billion, accounting for 15.3 per cent of the sector’s total exports. Other strong export performers include meat (excluding beef), which grew by 18.1 per cent to reach $4.5 billion, and wool which grew by 22.1 per cent to $4 billion. The sector has grown by more than 75 per cent over the past decade.

Australia’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Exports(a)(b)

Chart shows: 2007-08 = $29550951, 2008-09 = $33568941, 2009-10 = $29993885, 2010-11 = $34259707, 2011-12 = $38549644, 2012-13 = $39919545, 2013-14 = $43431593, 2014-15 = $46667134, 2015-16 = $47599720, 2016-17 = $51869818, 2017-18 = $52187602

(a) Definition of agriculture, forestry and fisheries includes alcoholic beverages as set out in the WTO International Trade Statistics publication.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalgoue 5368.0 and ABS special data services.

Australia’s Top 20 Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Exports 2017-18
Rank Commodity(a)(b) $ million % share % change
1 Beef 7,963 15.3 11.9
2 Wheat 4,652 8.9 -23.4
3 Meat (excl beef) 4,526 8.7 18.1
4 Wool & other animal hair (incl tops) 3,985 7.6 22.1
5 Alcoholic beverages 2,825 5.4 19.5
6 Edible products & preparations 3,007 5.8 19.1
7 Cotton 2,131 4.1 19.1
8 Vegetables 2,032 3.9 -37.9
9 Barley 1,975 3.8 -6.2
10 Fruit & nuts 1,880 3.6 6.3
11 Sugars, molasses & honey 1,837 3.5 -29.1
12 Live animals (excl seafood) 1,720 3.3 6.3
13 Oil-seeds & oleaginous fruits, soft 1,407 2.7 -38.2
14 Wood in chips or particles 1,343 2.6 19.7
15 Milk, cream, whey & yoghurt 1,326 2.5 7.0
16 Animal feed 1,249 2.4 4.9
17 Crustaceans 1,061 2.0 7.4
18 Cheese & curd 947 1.8 11.8
19 Hides & skins, raw (excl furskins) 815 1.6 4.9
20 Cereal preparations 782 1.5 7.4
Total agriculture, forestry & fisheries exports(c) 52,188 0.6

(a) Recorded trade basis. 

(b) Excludes confidential items of trade except sugar.

(c) Definition of agriculture, forestry and fisheries includes alcoholic beverages as set out in the WTO International Trade Statistics publication.

Based on ABS catalogue 5368.0 and ABS special data services.

Australia’s imports

The value of goods and services imported into Australia continued to rise in 2017-18. Imports reached $395.4 billion after increasing by 9 per cent over the year. Australia’s top import, worth $42.5 billion, was the provision of travel services for Australians travelling overseas for personal tourism (excluding education-related travel). This category grew by 12.6 per cent over the year and represented more than ten per cent of Australia’s total imports. According to World Trade Organization data, Australia was the twenty-first largest importer in the world in 2017.

Australia’s Imports(a)(b)

Chart shows: 2007-08 = $267b, 2008-09 = $287b, 2009-10 = $271b, 2010-11 = $290b, 2011-12 = $326b, 2012-13 = $327b, 2013-14 = $343b, 2014-15 = $349b, 2015-16 = $357b, 2016-17 = $363b, 2017-18 = $395b

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Australia’s top import source in 2017-18 was China, accounting for 18 per cent of total imports worth $71.3 billion. These imports were overwhelmingly dominated by goods, worth $68.1 billion, with services at $3.2 billion. Of Australia’s top ten import sources, the United Kingdom was the only country from which Australian importers sourced more services than goods imports.

Australia’s Top 10 Import Sources(a)(b) 2017-18 ($ billion)
Rank Sources(a)(b) Goods Services Total % share
1 China 68.1 3.2 71.3 18.0
2 United States 31.8 17.0 48.8 12.3
3 Republic of Korea 27.8 0.9 28.7 7.3
4 Japan 22.3 4.0 26.3 6.6
5 Germany 14.7 3.5 18.2 4.6
6 Thailand 15.0 3.1 18.1 4.6
7 United Kingdom 7.3 8.7 16.0 4.1
8 Singapore 9.4 5.3 14.6 3.7
9 New Zealand 7.9 6.0 13.9 3.5
10 Malaysia 11.5 1.0 12.6 3.2
Total top 10 sources 215.8 52.6 268.4 67.9
Total imports(c) 302.4 93.0 395.4
of which:
APEC 220.4 53.6 274.1 69.3
ASEAN 47.2 16.2 63.4 16.0
EU28 53.9 22.6 76.4 19.3
OECD 154.6 54.1 208.7 52.8

(a) All data is on a balance of payments basis, except for goods by country which are on a recorded trade basis.  

(b) May exclude selected confidential import commodities. Refer to the DFAT website Trade time series data for more information and a list of the excluded commodities.

(c) Totals may not add due to rounding.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database, ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.003 and unpublished ABS data.

Australia's Global Import Ranking 2017
How we compare with the rest of the world (US$ billion)
Rank Country Goods(a)  Services(b) Total imports % share
1 United States 2,408 538 2,947 12.7
2 China 1,844 468 2,311 9.9
3 Germany 1,167 324 1,490 6.4
4 France 624 240 864 3.7
5 Japan 672 191 863 3.7
6 United Kingdom 644 215 859 3.7
7 Netherlands 575 211 786 3.4
8 Hong Kong(c) 590 77 667 2.9
9 India 447 154 601 2.6
10 Republic of Korea 478 122 600 2.6
11 Italy 452 115 567 2.4
12 Canada 442 106 548 2.4
13 Belgium 406 117 523 2.3
14 Singapore 328 171 498 2.1
15 Mexico 432 37 469 2.0
21 Australia 221 68 289 1.2
Total imports 18,065 5,182 23,247

(a) Goods on recorded trade basis. 

(b) Services on balance of payments basis. 

(c) Special Administrative Region of China.

Source: WTO online database.

Australia's Top 20 Imports 2017-18
Rank Commodity(a)(b) $ million % share % change
1 Personal travel (excl education) services 42,496 10.7 12.6
2 Passenger motor vehicles 23,299 5.9 7.0
3 Refined petroleum 21,655 5.5 24.5
4 Ships, boats & floating structures(c) 14,897 3.8 210.3
5 Telecom equipment & parts 13,412 3.4 12.1
6 Crude petroleum 11,738 3.0 36.9
7 Goods vehicles 10,181 2.6 27.2
8 Freight transport services 9,431 2.4 11.9
9 Computers 8,836 2.2 12.5
10 Medicaments (incl veterinary) 7,169 1.8 -2.3
11 Passenger transport services(d) 7,167 1.8 5.6
12 Professional services 6,644 1.7 8.5
13 Gold 6,540 1.7 -9.7
14 Technical & other business services 5,177 1.3 9.2
15 Charges for intellectual property 4,613 1.2 7.3
16 Furniture, mattresses & cushions 4,497 1.1 7.0
17 Pharmaceutical products (excl medicaments) 4,283 1.1 9.0
18 Civil engineering equipment & parts 4,244 1.1 47.4
19 Telecom, computer & information services 4,233 1.1 18.9
20 Business travel services 4,215 1.1 0.9
Total imports(e) 395,400 9.0

(a) Goods trade is on a recorded trade basis. Services trade is on a balance of payments basis.

(b) Excludes imports of large aircraft which are treated confidentially by the ABS. DFAT estimatesaircraft imports would rank within Australia's top 20 imports with a value around $4.4 billion in 2017-18. 

(c) DFAT estimate for 2016-17 and 2017-18.

(d) Includes Related agency fees & commissions.

(e) Total imports on a balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Australia’s Imports by Sector(a) 2017-18 C09

Chart shows: Intermediate and other = $120.6b, Consumption goods = $101.9b, Services = $93.0b, Capital goods = $73.8b, Gold = $6.1b

(a) Balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Imports were fairly evenly spread among four of the five sectors in 2017-18, with just a twelve percentage point difference in the share of the sector between them. Intermediate and other goods remained Australia’s largest import sector and accounted for $120.6 billion in imports.

Consumption goods, services, and capital goods followed in order, with gold contributing the smallest share.

Australia’s foreign investment

Foreign investors had a total of $3.3 trillion invested in Australia at the end of 2017. A key benefit of foreign investment is employment, with foreign direct investment in Australia supporting the employment of 1.2 million Australians (or 1 in 10 jobs in Australia). Our world-leading minerals and energy sector, in particular, has long been powered by foreign investment.

The United States was Australia’s largest foreign investor by a wide margin, accounting for $896.9 billion in investments in Australia at the end of 2017. The United States also received the largest portion of Australian investment overseas, again by a wide margin, accounting for $664.5 billion at the end of 2017. The total amount of Australian money invested overseas was around $2.3 trillion at the end of 2017.

Australia’s Top 5 Two-Way Investment Partners at the end of 2017

  1. United States $1,561b
  2. United Kingdom $815b
  3. Japan $344b
  4. Belgium $310b
  5. Hong Kong (SAR of China) $164b

Source: ABS catalogue 5352.0

Australia’s Top 10 Investment Sources(a) 2017
($ million)
Rank(b) Country Direct investment Total investment(c)
1 United States 189,919 896,850
2 United Kingdom 83,174 481,387
3 Belgium (d) 2,445 305,323
4 Japan 92,520 219,236
5 Hong Kong (e) 25,972 116,602
6 Singapore 26,286 82,038
7 Luxembourg 9,570 80,985
8 Netherlands 53,502 79,025
9 China 40,688 64,954
10 Switzerland 9,224 53,693
Total all countries 849,098 3,266,431
of which:
APEC 437,747 1,541,982
ASEAN 41,991 110,044
EU28 188,746 1,087,933
  OECD 527,000 2,382,589

(a) Foreign investment in Australia: level of investment (stocks) as at 31 December 2017.

(b) Ranked on level of total investment in Australia.

(c) Includes portfolio investment.

(d) The majority of total investment from Belgium is portfolio investment liabilities in the form ofdebt securities (Belgium hosts a major clearing house and despository for euro-denominated bonds and other securities, Euroclear).

(e) Special Administrative Region of China.

Source: ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s Top 10 Investment Destinations(a) 2017
($ million)
Rank(b) Country Direct investment Total investment(c)
1 United States 127,291 664,512
2 United Kingdom 83,855 333,117
3 Japan 830 125,122
4 New Zealand 62,094 103,040
5 China 13,506 77,099
6 Germany np 73,643
7 Cayman Islands np 63,317
8 Singapore 20,221 59,418
9 France 2,432 50,983
10 Hong Kong (d) 4,079 47,407
Total all countries 590,566 2,280,237
of which:
APEC 274,991 1,217,323
ASEAN 40,259 98,321
EU28 117,797 612,121
  OECD 329,055 1,592,406

(a) Australian investment abroad: level of investment (stocks) as at 31 December 2017.

(b) Ranked on total Australian investment abroad.

(c) Includes portfolio investment.

(d) Special Administrative Region of China.

np = not published.

Source: ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s Top 5 Total Foreign Investment Sources at the end of 2017

Chart shows: United States = $896.9 billion, United Kingdom = $481.4 billion, Belgium = $305.3 billion, Japan = $219.2 billion, Hong Kong (a) = $116.6 billion

(a) Special Administrative Region of China.

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s Top 5 Total Investment Abroad Destinations at the end of 2017

Chart shows: United States = $664.5 billion, United Kingdom = $333.1 billion, Japan = $125.1 billion, New Zealand = $103.0 billion, China = $77.1 billion

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Foreign direct investment

Australia had the thirteenth-highest share of direct foreign inward investment in the world in 2017. Foreign direct investment takes place when an individual or entity from outside Australia establishes a new business or acquires ten per cent or more of a local enterprise and has some control over its operations. Foreign direct investment was Australia’s second-largest type of foreign investment at the end of 2017.

The most common type of investment in Australia at the end of 2017 was portfolio investment, which refers to the purchase of securities (such as stocks or bonds) or equity and debt transactions that do not offer the investor any control over the operation of the enterprise. This type of investment was worth $1.8 trillion, followed by direct investment at $849.1 billion, and other investment and financial derivatives at $494.8 billion and $153 billion, respectively.

Foreign Investment in Australia by Type at the end of 2017

Chart shows: Direct investment = $849.1 billion, Portfolio investment = $1,769.6 billion, Financial derivatives = $153.0 billion, Other investment (a) = $494.8 billion

(a) Includes loans, trade credit, currency, deposits and reserve assets.

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s Top 5 Foreign Direct Investment Sources at the end of 2017

Chart shows: United States = $189.9 billion, Japan = $92.5 billion, United Kingdom = $83.2 billion, Netherlands = $53.5 billion, China = $40.7 billion

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Economic activity of foreign-owned businesses in Australia

Foreign direct investment in Australia supports the employment of nearly 1.2 million people, or 1 in 10 jobs, a 2018 Australian Bureau of Statistics study commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade showed.

According to the study, foreign-owned businesses pay higher wages on average than Australian‑owned businesses.

The study gathered the most up-to-date data available, from 2014-15, on the impact of foreign investment in Australia.

See the investment section of the DFAT website for more information: Economic activity of foreign-owned businesses in Australia

Australia’s Inward Foreign Direct Investment Global Ranking 2017
How we compare with the rest of the world
Rank Country US$b % change % share
1 United States 7,807 19.1 24.8
2 Hong Kong(a) 1,969 21.1 6.2
3 United Kingdom 1,564 6.0 5.0
4 China 1,491 10.1 4.7
5 Singapore 1,285 14.4 4.1
6 Canada 1,084 11.3 3.4
7 Switzerland 1,060 7.3 3.4
8 Netherlands 975 17.1 3.1
9 Germany 931 18.5 3.0
10 Ireland 880 4.4 2.8
11 France 875 24.1 2.8
12 Brazil 778 10.7 2.5
13 Australia 662 14.8 2.1
World inward stock 31,524 14.0 100.0

(a) Special Administrative Region of China.

Source: UNCTADstat database.

Australia’s Foreign Direct Investment by Industry at the end of 2017

Chart shows: Mining = $315.3 billion, Manufacturing = $97.7 billion, Real estate activities = $91.0 billion, Financial and insurance = $74.8 billion, Wholesale and retail trade = $55.0 billion, Construction = $24.9 billion, Other = $190.4 billion

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s top sectors for foreign direct investment in 2017 were mining, with a 37.1 per cent share of the total worth $315.3 billion, followed by manufacturing with a 11.5 per cent share worth $97.7 billion, and real estate activities with a 10.7 per cent share worth $91 billion.

Australian direct investment abroad

Australia was the seventeenth-largest international direct investor in the world at the end of 2017. Australia’s top direct investment abroad destinations are English-speaking countries, however Australian investment in other regions, including in Asia, is increasing. Australia’s major direct investment destinations at the end of 2017 were the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore and Papua New Guinea.

Australia’s Top 5 Direct Investment Abroad Destinations at the end of 2017

Chart shows: United States = $127.3 billion, United Kingdom = $83.9 billion, New Zealand = $62.1 billion, Singapore = $20.2 billion, PNG = $16.3 billion

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s Direct Investment Abroad Global Ranking 2017
How we compare with the rest of the world
Rank Country US$b % change % share
1 United States 7,799 22.6 25.3
2 Hong Kong(a) 1,804 16.7 5.9
3 Germany 1,607 20.3 5.2
4 Netherlands 1,605 14.8 5.2
5 United Kingdom 1,532 2.7 5.0
6 Japan 1,520 15.6 4.9
7 Canada 1,487 18.8 4.8
8 China 1,482 9.2 4.8
9 France 1,452 13.4 4.7
10 Switzerland 1,272 6.1 4.1
11 Ireland 899 6.8 2.9
12 British Virgin Islands 880 8.7 2.9
13 Singapore 841 13.0 2.7
14 Belgium 691 17.0 2.2
15 Spain 597 13.3 1.9
17 Australia 461 14.8 1.5
World outward stock 30,838 15.0 100.0

(a) Special Administrative Region of China.

Source: UNCTADstat database.

Australia’s Direct Investment Abroad by Industry at the end of 2017

Chart shows: Financial and insurance activities = $175.7 billion, Manufacturing = $113.8 billion, Mining = $98.7 billion, Real estate activities = $18.9 billion, Construction = $9.9 billion, Unallocated and confidential items = $148.0 billion, Other = $25.5 billion

(a) Amounts either suppressed by confidentiality or not attributable to a specific category.

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

The largest share of Australian direct investment abroad went into financial and insurance activities at the end of 2017. Investment in this sector increased by 3.1 per cent to $175.7 billion at the end of 2017 to account for 29.8 per cent of the total. Investment in manufacturing grew by 19.4 per cent to reach $113.8 billion, accounting for 19.3 per cent of the total.

Australia’s trade and investment framework

Australia’s strong economy is the foundation of our international reputation and influence.

Australia is among the world’s top 20 largest economies and a member of the major international, multilateral and regional forums for cooperation on economic and trade issues.

In each of these organisations we use our soft-power assets to promote Australia’s interests, including trade liberalisation and the promotion of the rules-based trading system.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organisation concerned with the rules of trade between nations. It has 164 members representing 98 per cent of world trade, and over 20 countries are seeking to join.

Australia is proud to be a founding member of both the WTO, as well as its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

The rules embodied in the WTO limit arbitrary and unfair trade restrictions and are of fundamental importance to Australia’s interests as a trading nation.

In the WTO, Australia is leading work to set international rules for e-commerce. These new rules for digital trade will aim to reduce barriers, remove red tape, and provide an enabling environment for Australian businesses and consumers.

These rules are critical in ensuring the future benefits of digital trade are maximised, and support our evolving economy. A 2018 report by the Hinrich Foundation estimates that digital trade accounts for $6 billion of Australian exports today, and could reach $19 billion by 2030.

Also in the WTO, in 2018 WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) parties unanimously agreed to Australia’s final offer to accede to the agreement, after three years of negotiations.

Once Australia completes its accession, the GPA will provide Australian businesses with the legal right to compete in government procurement markets the WTO estimates are worth US$1.7 trillion a year.

At the same time, we are pursuing multilateral outcomes to strengthen global rules governing trade in services, and supporting the extension of WTO rules into new areas such as investment and competition policy.

Australia also provides support for the WTO’s trade capacity building activities in developing countries.

Australia also works in the OECD, the World Customs Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and numerous other bodies to support policies, cooperation, and dialogue to enable economic growth and help facilitate trade and investment.

Our interests are advanced by our voice in the G20, the world’s premier forum for international economic cooperation. The G20 consists of 19 countries and the European Union, and represents over 85 per cent of global output, more than 75 per cent of global trade and almost two-thirds of the world’s population.

Under the 2018 Argentinian G20 Presidency, Australia continued to reaffirm our commitment to a rules-based multilateral trading system anchored in the WTO, and advocated its essential role in maintaining continued economic stability and global prosperity.

Our interests are also served by the G20’s continuing high-level support for institutions and policies that contribute to global prosperity and the integrity of the international financial and tax systems. Australia is cooperating closely with Japan, which has the G20 Presidency in 2019.

Australia is also able to support our trade and investment interests through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

APEC is the premier economic forum in the Asia-Pacific region, with an agenda focusing on trade and investment liberalisation, business facilitation and economic and technical cooperation.

APEC has delivered substantial benefits to businesses and consumers in the region, including through its work to address trade barriers at and behind the border, and build the capacity of developing economies to improve their participation in global trade networks.

Australia’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper recognises that Australia’s interests are served by our independent and global efforts to encourage sustainable development and reduce poverty.

In 2017-18, Australia’s two-way merchandise trade with our ongoing bilateral development partnership countries1 was valued at $37.2 billion.

Over the past decade since 2007-08, two-way trade with these countries has increased by 3.1 per cent per annum. Australia’s exports to these countries grew by 4.1 per cent per annum, while imports grew by 2.1 per cent per annum over the same period.

Australia has provided Least Developed Countries2 (LDC) full duty-free and quota-free access into Australia since 2003. LDC exports to Australia increased markedly from $151.4 million in 2007-08 to $1.3 billion in 2017-18, averaging 25.5 per cent growth every year.

An LDC Services Waiver allows WTO members to grant preferences to provide LDCs access to their markets with the objective of enhancing LDC participation in global services trade.

Australia’s notification of preferential treatment for LDC service suppliers covers tourism, transport (maritime, air, rail, road and auxiliary services) and business services (computer, professional and other business services).

1 Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Comoros, Cook Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Niue, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Vietnam.

2 Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Former Sudan, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia.

Free trade agreements

Recognising the slow movement of multilateral negotiations in the WTO, free trade agreements (FTAs) with a smaller number of participants can offer the best and fastest means to improve Australia’s competitive position and open up new commercial opportunities.

Australia’s FTAs aim to maximise tariff reductions for Australian exporters, open up services markets, set rules to enhance trade and investment, and reduce regulatory risk.

Australia will not enter into an FTA unless it is a high-quality agreement that supports global trade liberalisation, meets benchmarks set by the WTO, and advances rules in areas and ways not possible in the multilateral system.

Australia has eleven regional and bilateral FTAs in force. A further four are concluded but not yet in force, including the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement which was signed in Jakarta on 4 March, 2019. Seven FTAs are currently under negotiation and we would like to negotiate an FTA with the United Kingdom when the time is right.

Australia’s FTAs with Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) members, the ten ASEAN countries plus New Zealand and nine bilateral FTAs (Chile, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the United States) account for over 68 per cent of our total trade.

The Australian Government is committed to expanding our network of FTAs to account for over 80 per cent of our trade by 2020.

The CPTPP is an FTA between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. The CPTPP will eliminate more than 98 percent of tariffs in the free trade area and enhance the level of transparency and predictability for Australian services exporters.

The CPTPP entered into force for businesses in Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore on 30 December 2018, and Vietnam on 14 January 2019. It will enter into force for the other signatories 60 days after each country completes its domestic legal procedures.

Australia’s Free Trade Agreements

A Venn diagram of Australia's Free Trade Agreements
View larger image

FTA Portal

DFAT’s FTA Portal helps businesses explore the benefits of Australia’s FTAs. Goods and services exporters and importers can find comprehensive information on tariffs and services commitments and guidance on rules of origin and market data.

The Portal will be updated as new agreements come into force. For more information visit ftaportal.dfat.gov.au

Overview of Trade Negotiations

FTAs concluded but not yet in force:

  • Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement
  • Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus
  • Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
  • Hong Kong-Australia Free Trade Agreement

Australia and Peru signed the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) on 12 February 2018 and domestic treaty making processes are underway to bring the agreement into force. PAFTA will enable Australian businesses to access opportunities in Peru, one of Latin America’s fastest growing economies over the last decade.

The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus) opened for signature in Nuku’alofa in Tonga on 14 June 2017, and has been signed by Australia, New Zealand and nine Pacific Island countries — Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

PACER Plus is an important part of Australia’s engagement in the Pacific and provides commercial opportunities for Australian exporters and investors in a range of sectors. Australia ratified PACER Plus, notifying the Depositary in Tonga on 20 December 2018. Australia is the second country after New Zealand to ratify the agreement.

In March 2019, the Australian and Indonesian Governments signed the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Domestic treaty making process are underway to bring the agreement into force. The agreement will strengthen Australia’s commercial links and help stimulate increased two-way investment with one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Australia and Hong Kong announced the conclusion of negotiations on an FTA on 15 November 2018 and the agreement was signed on 26 March 2019. Through the FTA, Australia has secured the best commitments on services that Hong Kong has offered to any country to date, as well as permanently locked-in zero tariffs on all Australian exports to Hong Kong.

FTAs under negotiation:

  • Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement
  • Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement
  • Pacific Alliance Free Trade Agreement
  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
  • Environmental Goods Agreement
  • Trade In Services Agreement

Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement negotiations formally launched in June 2018 and our respective leaders agreed at the November 2018 G20 Summit to seek to accelerate progress on the FTA. We are committed to moving as quickly as possible to achieve comprehensive and ambitious outcomes in the negotiations to maximise tariff reductions for Australian exporters, open up services markets, and set rules to enhance two-way investment.

An Australia-EU FTA also signals our shared commitment to open markets, free trade and the rules based global trading system.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations were launched by leaders from ASEAN and ASEAN’s FTA partners in the margins of the East Asia Summit in 2012.

RCEP has the potential to deliver significant opportunities for Australian businesses, with the 16 RCEP participating countries accounting for almost half of the world’s population, over 30 per cent of global GDP, and over a quarter of world exports.

We are continuing to work to enhance economic ties with India, including through bilateral and regional FTA negotiations including RCEP. The Australian Government’s response, issued on 22 November 2018, to the independent report ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035: Navigating from Potential to Delivery’ will unlock opportunities that will help India and Australia grow together.

An FTA with the Pacific Alliance bloc involving Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru would enable Australian businesses to access the opportunities presented by those growing markets.

The Australian Government continues to support efforts to finalise the Environmental Goods Agreement with 17 WTO members (including the United States, China, the European Union and Japan). This is the largest goods market access negotiation underway in the WTO. Once completed, the agreement will result in significant trade liberalisation of an extensive array of goods with environmentally beneficial technologies.

The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is a services-only trade agreement with 23 negotiating parties, jointly led by Australia, the European Union and the United States. Accounting for around 70 per cent of global services trade, the TiSA will address barriers to international services trade and promote the expansion of Australia’s services exports.

TiSA negotiations have been on hold since December 2016. Only a small number of issues remained outstanding at the last round of negotiations, and parties agreed to discuss next steps when the positions of all parties were clear.

Australia will be ready to launch negotiations for a comprehensive FTA with the United Kingdom as soon as possible after it has left the European Union. Australia and the UK have been preparing for negotiations through a Trade Working Group established in September 2016.

Benefits of trade and investment

1. Trade promotes economic growth and raises household incomes.

  • As a result of trade liberalisation since 1986, Australia’s GDP is 5.4 per cent higher and the average real income of Australian households has been lifted by over $8,400 per annum, compared to a scenario where liberalisation had not occurred.

2. Trade and investment create and support Australian jobs.

  • 1 in 5 jobs in the Australian economy involve trade-related activities.
  • 1 in 4 businesses in Australia with 200 or more employees are more than 50 per cent foreign owned.

3. Trade makes products cheaper for Australian households and businesses.

  • Real prices for consumer products such as clothing, footwear, motor vehicles, household appliances and audio visual equipment have fallen over the past decade. Compared to a decade earlier:
    • Garments are over 13.7 per cent cheaper;
    • Small electrical appliances (including coffee machines, food processors and irons) are 11.5 per cent cheaper;
    • Prices for toys and games have fallen 17.6 per cent; and
    • Inflation has risen by 25.1 per cent over the same period.

4. Trade gives consumers and business greater choice.

  • Trade provides consumers and businesses more choice, by widening the export options for exporters and increasing the supplier options for importers.

5. Trade and investment open global markets for Australian products.

  • Access to global markets allows Australian businesses to grow and benefit from economies of scale.
  • Countries with high FDI stocks relative to the size of their economies tend to have a greater participation in global value chains (GVCs). The rate of Australia’s industry participation in GVCs rose from 30.3 per cent in the mid-90s to 43.6 per cent in 2011.

6. Trade allows us to earn income on commodities that are too plentiful for Australia to consume.

  • Australia exports approximately two thirds of our total agricultural production, around 95 per cent of iron ore, and almost all metallurgical coal production.

7. Trade and investment encourage innovation, which leads to productivity benefits.

  • Access to global markets encourages businesses to be more competitive, to innovate, and to adopt new technologies and methods.
  • Increasing foreign investment as a share of GDP is significantly and positively associated with productivity growth.

8. Foreign investment supports Australia’s economic development.

  • Since the 1960s, foreign investment from the US, the UK, Japan and elsewhere has provided the capital necessary to develop our largest export industry: minerals and resources.

9. Foreign investment has supported the growth of successful Australian industries.

  • Foreign investment in wool and other agriculture helped build our early export industries.
  • While FDI in mining increased 8 times, the number of Australians employed in the sector grew from 79,600 in 2001 to 226,700 in 2016.

10. Foreign investment encourages innovation.

  • FDI — particularly in the form of a multinational enterprise establishing a local R&D/manufacturing subsidiary — can substantially increase technology and knowledge transfers.
  • Australia’s world class R&D organisations — including the CSIRO, which ranks in the top 1 per cent of world scientific institutions across 14 of 22 research fields — have a strong tradition of partnering with foreign investors.

Data

Unless otherwise specified, all data is for the financial year 2017-18, for investment and international data the relevant time period is the calendar year 2017.

Currency

Unless otherwise specified, all amounts are in Australian dollars.

Enquiries

Enquiries regarding the licence and use of this booklet are welcome in writing to:

Assistant Secretary, Trade and Investment Advocacy Branch
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R. G. Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
Barton ACT 0221 Australia

Phone: 02 6261 1111

Our suite of trade and investment information includes:

Navigate through milestones in Australia’s trading history on an interactive timeline at Australia’s Trade through Time website: https://tradethroughtime.gov.au/

Trade Talk brings you a selection of the latest trade news from Australia and the world on a fortnightly basis: dfat.gov.au/tradetalk

Business envoy quarterly magazine connects DFAT’s diplomatic network to Australian business: dfat.gov.au/businessenvoy

Composition of Trade Australia analyses the composition, direction and commodity breakdown of Australia’s trade in goods and services, bi-annually on a calendar and financial year basis: https://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Pages/composition-of-trade.aspx

Trade in Services Australia details the composition and direction of Australia’s services trade, bi-annually on a calendar and financial year basis: https://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Pages/trade-in-services-australia.aspx

International Investment Australia provides a detailed snapshot of Australia’s inwards and outwards investment on a calendar year basis: https://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Pages/international-investment-australia.aspx

Australia’s trade by State and Territory gives a breakdown of each Australian state and territory’s goods and services trade on a financial year basis: https://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Pages/australias-trade-by-state-and-territory.aspx

Trade and investment articles aimed at enhancing understanding of trade trends: https://dfat.gov.au/trade/resources/publications/Pages/trade-and-investment-articles.aspx

Last Updated: 7 June 2019

Category: Trade and investment

Topic: Statistics, Investment

Cover page of Trade and Investment at a Glance 2019