Skip to main content

Business Envoy February 2022

Inclusive trade: Ensuring Australia's Indigenous entrepreneurs benefit from the global trading system

How many Indigenous businesses are export ready and what impediments do they face in exporting into international markets or attracting foreign investment?

In an Australian first, DFAT commissioned Indigenous company i2i Global to survey the Australian Indigenous business sector to develop a picture of their export activities and aspirations.

The findings will inform government policy and programs to ensure access to trade and investment opportunities is equitable and inclusive. It will help inform work being undertaken under the Services Exports Action Plan (2020).

The report is a “first pass” snapshot showing an untapped export potential in Indigenous businesses. It shows there is a growing cohort of Indigenous companies ready to access export assistance programs, and that better data, such as a longitudinal approach, could provide a more rigorous basis that better captures the breadth of Indigenous investment and trade.

The findings have already fed into the Department's commitments to inclusive trade as outlined in the National Roadmap for Indigenous Jobs, Skills and Wealth Creation released in November 2021, and will inform the trade and economic pillar of DFAT's Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda.

We have a vision for a world where the rights and traditions of Indigenous people are respected; where open markets facilitate the free flow of trade, capital and ideas for Indigenous businesses; and where Indigenous peoples are participants and beneficiaries of the international system.

Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2021)

Led by the Hon Minister Ken Wyatt MP, Minister for Indigenous Australia, through the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), the Roadmap specifies how Commonwealth agencies will deliver inclusive trade policies with the aim of developing international market opportunities for Indigenous businesses, including by supporting:

  • export readiness training and mentoring
  • inclusion of Indigenous commercial and economic development issues in the work of multilateral organisations
  • participation of Indigenous businesses and economic organisations in the benefits of Free Trade Agreements and trade summits, and
  • engagement between Indigenous business and foreign companies investing in Australia.


Inclusive trade: Unlocking the Export Potential of Australia's Indigenous SMEs

Key Findings

Indigenous companies are already exporters

A cohort of 24 Indigenous companies are already exporting services and goods into overseas markets. They are joined by 50 additional Indigenous-owned companies that see exporting as a part of their pathway to growth.

Indigenous women are leading the sector

Of those surveyed, 54 per cent were owned and/or led by Indigenous businesswomen. This is a significant characteristic of the Indigenous export orientated business sector.

Indigenous businesses are located in remote and regional Australia

The profile of the respondent businesses mirrors the Indigenous population distribution across remote and regional Australia. This is a great advantage that links Indigenous business growth directly into remote and regional Indigenous interests in rural economies.

There is growth potential in the agriculture, food & beverage sectors

Indigenous botanicals and fauna will provide the basis for new multi-million-dollar Indigenous companies in the sectors of agriculture, foodstuffs and beverages, fishing and aquaculture. In parallels with Indigenous interests in New Zealand/Aotearoa and Canada, Australian Indigenous businesspeople have charted their ambition to boost Australian exports in these sectors above all others.

Indigenous businesses are exporting to the Indo-Pacific, Europe and North America

Half of all respondents that were already exporting were exporting into New Zealand. The next two largest markets were the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Emergent interest was shown for new markets clustered on Canada, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Singapore.

Trade and Economic Policy

Pillar 2: Maximise opportunities for Indigenous Australia and indigenous peoples in a globalised world

  • Grow the Australian and global economy through the promotion of indigenous commerce and investment.
  • Promote the excellence of Indigenous Australia to the world.
  • Support the global engagement of Indigenous Australia.
  • Enhance the global participation of indigenous peoples, particularly in international meetings on issues affecting them.

Indigenous Diplomacy Agenda: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2021)

Back to top