Economic diplomacy: DFAT’s role in trade and investment

DFAT leads the implementation of Australia's economic diplomacy agenda to boost our global economic interests through four key pillars — trade, growth, investment and business.

Economic diplomacy uses our international diplomatic assets to advance Australian and global prosperity. The Australian Government's economic diplomacy agenda has four key pillars:

DFAT has over 100 posts across the world and offices in each state and territory capital (STOs). DFAT builds networks in host countries with ministers, government officials, businesspeople, media representatives, think tanks, universities and community groups. These networks enable us to advise Australian governments and businesses on key political, economic, commercial, regulatory and strategic developments.

DFAT's role includes:

Working together

DFAT works with portfolio partners, including:

Economic diplomacy and Australian business

Over 45,000 Australian businesses export goods or services. Australia's economic diplomacy is most effective when government and business work together to support our international economic and commercial interests.

Australian prosperity is closely connected to the global economy:

  • Our global trade is 42 per cent of our GDP — and hasn't dropped below 25 per cent since 1900.
  • Foreign investment in Australia is at record highs — $2.5 trillion and Australia's investments around the world total $1.6 trillion.
  • We're ranked 5th in the world for GDP per capita and have the 12th-largest economy.

Sustaining this level of economic performance requires strong international engagement. DFAT manages Australia's overall international engagement through bilateral, regional and multilateral relationships, including trade and investment negotiations and aid programs.

Building cooperation

Effective economic diplomacy takes a 'Team Australia' approach to international engagement: inclusive, coordinated and focused on outcomes.

The portfolio will:

  1. Promote Australia's reputation as an outstanding place to visit, invest and do business, including by engaging media, hosting events, and working with Australian exporters and industry associations.
  2. Assist Australian businesses to identify and access new markets where the opportunities are greatest, building productive commercial networks and relationships.
  3. Advocate on behalf of Australian business interests, including through international visits by Ministers and senior officials.
  4. Advance the interests of business in trade and investment negotiations and international economic forums.
  5. Support business in its engagement with foreign governments.
  6. Build upon existing pathways for two-way exchange of information, including through the Trade and Investment Minister's Trade and Investment Policy Advisory Council (TIPAC).
  7. Consult on relevant policy decisions and draw on the knowledge of business in developing policy.
  8. Support the establishment of Australian business groups in key global centres so businesses can share their experiences.
  9. Build awareness of the needs of business among our staff.
  10. Explain how business can interact with Australia's aid program and partner with government to improve economic and social outcomes in developing countries.
  11. Direct business to the most suitable government services — a 'no wrong door' approach.
  12. Inform business of international and domestic legal obligations, including on sanctions and anti-bribery, and voluntary international business principles and corporate social responsibility norms.
Last Updated: 8 November 2017