A Charter: Economic Diplomacy and Australian Business

Australia's prosperity is more connected than ever to developments in the global economy. Our trade with the world is equivalent to 42 per cent of our GDP—a number that hasn't dropped below 25 per cent since 1900. The stock of foreign investment in Australia is at record highs—$2.5 trillion and Australia's investments around the world total $1.6 trillion. Australia is ranked 5th in the world for GDP per capita and has the 12th largest economy. To sustain this performance requires strong international engagement. That's why the government is prioritising Australia's economic diplomacy: to support Australia's prosperity, and to help build global prosperity.

Economic Diplomacy

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

  • promoting trade,
  • encouraging growth,
  • attracting investment and
  • supporting Australian business.

More information on economic diplomacy

The economic diplomacy agenda will enhance cooperation between the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio and business, assisting those businesses which seek to work in international markets.

Australia's economic diplomacy will be most effective when government and business work collaboratively to support Australia's international economic and commercial interests.

Australia's international representatives are well qualified to assist you. DFAT's 95 heads of mission (Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Consuls General) have 830 years accumulated international service, and speak 23 languages.

Austrade's 72 Trade Commissioners combine commercial acumen with deep knowledge of international markets.

What the portfolio offers

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio delivers a range of high-quality services to Australian business. DFAT manages Australia's overall international engagement through Australia's bilateral, regional and multilateral relationships, including trade and investment negotiations and aid programs. Austrade assists Australian business, matching Australian capability with overseas demand and identifying new commercial opportunities. Austrade leads on investment promotion, attraction and facilitation. Tourism Australia leads on promotion of Australia as a tourism destination. EFIC supports Australian business through specialist finance solutions, and ACIAR builds Australia's international agricultural research collaboration. All are committed to enhancing Australia's economic diplomacy, and through it, Australia's prosperity and global prosperity.

Complementary skills and networks

The skills and experience of Australian business play an important role in advancing Australia's international economic interests.

Many Australian businesses have significant international footprints.

  • Over 45,000 Australian businesses export goods or services.

Australian businesses manage their own commercial interests and networks in key markets and have unique perspectives on political and economic conditions.

Australia's cultural diversity ensures Australian business has strong language skills and personal links into international markets.

Building cooperation

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

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.

The Minister for Trade and Investment has established a 20-member Trade and Investment Policy Advisory Council (TIPAC) to contribute a commercial perspective to trade and investment policy. The Council, which convened for the first time in June 2014, includes expertise across key sectors for the Australian economy: resources and energy, food and agribusiness, banking and finance, international education, tourism and hospitality and health and medical research.


DFAT has 95 posts across the world and offices in each state and territory capital (STOs). DFAT builds strong networks in host countries with ministers, government officials, business people, media representatives, think tanks, universities and community groups. Drawing on these networks, DFAT can advise business on the latest political, economic, commercial, regulatory and strategic developments that matter for Australia's prosperity.

DFAT leads Australia's international trade and investment negotiations, including FTAs, and regularly consults State and Territory Governments and the business community on current negotiations. DFAT works closely with Austrade on investment opportunities. DFAT manages Australia's $5 billion aid program which focuses on economic development across our region.

The contact point for business in DFAT is the Business & Government Liaison Section. Contact business@dfat.gov.au

More information on DFAT and business


Austrade, with a network of 82 offices in 48 international markets, is a key player in Australia's economic diplomacy.

Austrade supports Australian exporters by identifying commercial opportunities, including those created through free trade agreements, and promotes Australian industry capability to overseas buyers, particularly in sectors where Australia has a comparative advantage.

Austrade promotes Australia as a place to do business, as a high-quality education destination, and as a place to invest, working in partnership with industry associations and State and Territory Governments.

More information on Austrade's services can be found at www.austrade.gov.au

Tourism Australia

Tourism is Australia's number one services export industry.

Tourism Australia leads the promotion of Australian tourism internationally, with activities in 18 markets around the world. Tourism Australia works closely with Australian tourism businesses to identify target markets and develop tourism products.

More information on Tourism Australia's services can be found at www.tourism.australia.com


The Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) is Australia's export credit agency. It helps Australian businesses realise opportunities in international markets and export supply chains by facilitating access to finance.

More information about EFIC can be found at www.efic.gov.au


Agriculture is an important Australian industry, as it is in many developing countries. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) leads Australia's international collaboration in research and related activities towards more productive and sustainable agriculture.

More information about ACIAR can be found at www.aciar.gov.au


Portfolio agencies work across federal government to ensure Australia's economic diplomacy is well coordinated. Through our overseas posts, and in Australia, the portfolio coordinates closely with the international economic activities of the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Industry, Treasury and others.

Last Updated: 18 September 2014