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Trade and Investment at a glance 2021

Foreword

Trade and Investment at a Glance is a statistical snapshot of Australia’s trade and investment performance over 2019-20. 2020 was a challenging year. This publication captures the impact of the summer ’s bushfires as well as the early effects of COVID-19 and the Government ’s response.

The health and safety of all Australians is our Government’s number one priority. Australia’s economic and health response to COVID-19 has been among the best in the world.

The Government stepped up to support businesses to manage the economic impacts of COVID-19 through JobKeeper, the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) program, the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) and tourism industry support, among other support measures.

An extra $49.8 million was injected into the EMDG program in the 2019-20 financial year, supporting exporters and tourism businesses to market their products and services around the world. This bolstered the $60 million already assigned to the program. The Australian Government also established the $500 million COVID-19 Export Capital Facility to provide Australian exporters adversely impacted by the pandemic with business-saving loans.

Open and connected two-way supply chains continue to be supported with $110 million allocated to IFAM to keep vital trade links operating during the pandemic. IFAM has been extended to the end of September 2021. This temporary measure is focused on alleviating COVID-related supply chain pressures and reconnecting Australian companies with international markets.

Further, we are investing $72.7 million to help Australian farming, forestry and fishing exporters to expand and diversify their export markets in 2021, as part of the Agri-Business Expansion Initiative (ABEI). Key elements include rapidly scaling-up Austrade export services to increase the number of agri-business clients receiving services, greater access to agricultural market intelligence, enhancing scientific and technical capabilities to advance agricultural technical market access priorities, and short-term agricultural counsellor deployments.

Our Government has taken the next step in Australia’s National Economic Recovery Plan with a $1.2 billion tourism and aviation support package which will target businesses, workers and regions impacted by the loss of international tourists. Measures include a Tourism Aviation Network Support program that will offer 800,000 half price domestic airfares to Australian travellers, support for Australia’s international passenger airlines to maintain more than 8,000 core international aviation jobs, and support for aviation services such as airport security screening, training and certification.

These support measures come on top of the Government ’s work to expand and diversify our FTAs, which now includes 15 agreements and gives Australian exports preferred access to more than two billion consumers. With one in five jobs in Australia being trade-related, maintaining and expanding opportunities for Australian exporters is vital to Australia’s recovery. We will continue the negotiation of free trade agreements with the European Union and the United Kingdom, which will give Australian businesses additional opportunities in markets with more than 500 million consumers.

We also work with other countries through multilateral organisations to help find recovery solutions and strengthen the global rules-based trading system. The selection of Australia’s Mathias Cormann to lead the OECD as Secretary-General from June 2021 is a significant achievement for Australia. It reflects our commitment to multilateralism, liberal democratic values and best-practice market-based policies. Under Mr Cormann ’s leadership, the OECD will work to promote stronger, cleaner, fairer economic growth, raise employment and living standards, and strengthen its outreach into the Indo-Pacific region.

As the global economy recovers from COVID-19, we continue to take a proactive, principled and patient approach as we create new opportunities for Australian businesses and producers to diversify their markets and get to the other side of COVID-19.

The Hon Dan Tehan, MP
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment

Dan Tehan
The Hon Dan Tehan, MP Minister for Trade Tourism and Investment

Australia’s economic activities in COVID-19 compared to other economies

Graph of Australia's economic activities during COVID-19. Historical data is frequently revised. Daily activity index is an experimental index constructed by Bloomberg Economics from mobility data (Google, Moovit), toll mileage, electricity demand, equity indices and retail footfall.
Note: Historical data is frequently revised. Daily activity index is an experimental index constructed by Bloomberg Economics from mobility data (Google, Moovit), toll mileage, elecdtricity demand, equity indices and retail footfall. Source: Bloomberg Ecconomics and DFAT.

Australia’s key economic indicators 2017-18 to 2019-20

  2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
GDP and Trade (a)
Gross domestic product(b) % change 3 2.2 -0.3
Exports of goods & services(b) % change 4.1 4 -1.9
Imports of goods & services(b) % change 7.3 0.2 -7.4
Net exports contribution to GDP % points -0.6 0.9 1.1
Labour force
Population(c) ‘000 24,983 25,366 25,687
Labour force(d) ‘000 13,159 13,421 13,554
Employed persons(d) ‘000 12,437 12,734 12,793
- Annual growth % 3 2.4 0.5
Unemployment rate(d) % 5.5 5.1 5.6
Prices and interest rates
Consumer prices % change 2.1 1.6 -0.3
Interest rates - 90 day bills(d) % pa 1.8 1.9 0.7
(a) Reference year 2018-19.
(b) Derived from annual movements in original data.
(c) At end June.
(d) Derived from original data on an annual average.
Based on ABS and Reserve Bank, various catalogues.

Australia’s industry structure 2019-20

  Gross value added(a) Employed persons(b)
  $m % share(c) '000 % share
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 37,683 2 333.6 2.6
Mining 206,796 11.1 238.6 1.9
Manufacturing 113,561 6.1 886.7 6.9
Services 1,336,304 71.9 11,312.50 88.6
Electricity, gas, water & waste 47,333 2.5 155.8 1.2
Construction 142,331 7.7 1,179.00 9.2
Wholesale trade 75,152 4 391.9 3.1
Retail trade 81,473 4.4 1,235.60 9.7
Accommodation & food services 39,623 2.1 851.6 6.7
Transport, postal & warehousing 89,284 4.8 641 5
Information, media & telecommunications 43,716 2.4 205 1.6
Financial & insurance services 165,278 8.9 466.9 3.7
Rental, hiring & real estate 53,685 2.9 214.4 1.7
Professional, scientific & technical 141,431 7.6 1,147.80 9
Administrative & support 66,184 3.6 438 3.4
Public administration & safety 106,553 5.7 827.5 6.5
Education & training 94,776 5.1 1,084.90 8.5
Health care & social assistance 143,730 7.7 1,762.40 13.8
Arts & recreation 15,270 0.8 225.8 1.8
Other services 30,485 1.6 484.9 3.8
Ownership of dwellings 164,547 8.9    
Gross value added at basic prices(d) 1,819,368 100.0    
Taxes less subsidies on products and statistical discrepancy 1,858,892      
Total (e) 1,985,438   12,771 100.0
(a) Based on current price GDP. Industry breakdown based on ANZSIC 2006.
(b) Derived from original data on an annual average. Year ended June 2019. 
(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 taxes on 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.

Australia’s trade and investment framework

Australia takes an active and ambitious multilateral, regional and bilateral Australia will is an outward-looking, open, and sovereign trading nation. Australia’s prosperity is underpinned through enhanced competitiveness, open, diverse and resilient markets, and a rules-based trading system. In the COVID-19 recovery phase, the Australian Government’s focus is ensuring we obtain the full benefits of open trade and investment settings. This is achieved by expanding the options for our exporters in key markets; strengthening and modernising the rules-based international trading system; and promoting the high quality of Australian goods and services overseas.

Our continued engagement with other countries on a bilateral, regional and multilateral basis, including through the World Trade Organization (WTO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and G20, aims to protect and advance Australia’s trade and investment interests.

We are also identifying and seeking to address measures introduced by other countries that create unnecessary trade barriers for Australian traders, including COVID-19 measures. Businesses can report export barriers at tradebarriers.gov.au.

Free trade agreements

On 15 November 2020, Ministers from Australia and 14 other countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This is a regional free trade agreement that will complement and build upon Australia’s other agreements with 14 other Indo-Pacific countries. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a modern and comprehensive FTA covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation. It also contains trade rules relating to electronic commerce, intellectual property, government procurement, competition, and small and medium sized enterprises. Australia will work towards ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in 2021.

The Australian Government will continue to expand and strengthen our network of free trade agreements. In 2021, Australia will negotiate new free trade agreements, including separate negotiations with the United Kingdom and European Union. Work is also underway on an upgrade to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA).

For more information on Australia’s free trade agreements, including those agreements under negotiation, visit: fta.gov.au

The FTA Portal is a free website providing easy-to-access information that helps Australians import and export using free trade agreements. Find it at: ftaportal.dfat.gov.au

Graphic of the Trade Agreements in force timeline. Alt text below image.

Alternative text for timeline graph

1983

  • Australia - New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement

2003

  • Singapore - Australia Free Trade Agreement

2005

  • Thailand - Australia Free Trade Agreement
  • Australia - United States Free Trade Agreement

2009

  • Australia - Chile Free Trade Agreement

2010

  • ASEAN - Australia - New Zealand Free Trade Agreement

2013

  • Malaysia - Australia Free Trade Agreement

2014

  • Korea - Australia Free Trade Agreement

2015

  • China - Australia Free Trade Agreement
  • Japan - Australia Economic Partnership Agreement

2018

  • Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership

2020

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

Australia’s trade balance

Australia’s trade balance is the difference between what we export and what we import.
It is calculated by subtracting the value of the goods and services Australia buys from overseas from the value of the goods and services we sell to other countries.

As of December 2020, Australia had a positive trade balance of $6,785 million (seasonally adjusted).

Australia’s trade balance over time

The graph below shows the variation in Australia’s monthly trade balance over the past few years and reflects the minimal impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on trade during 2020.

Bar graph of Australia’s Trade Balance over time. Alt text in table below.
Australia’s Trade Balance over time. Credit: DFAT.

Alternative text for Australia’s trade balance over time graph

Date $ million
1/01/2017 1328
1/02/2017 3244
1/03/2017 2267
1/04/2017 -376
1/05/2017 1893
1/06/2017 1007
1/07/2017 144
1/08/2017 403
1/09/2017 854
1/10/2017 238
1/11/2017 263
1/12/2017 -1600
1/01/2018 915
1/02/2018 1279
1/03/2018 767
1/04/2018 953
1/05/2018 865
1/06/2018 1544
1/07/2018 1890
1/08/2018 2004
1/09/2018 2844
1/10/2018 2450
1/11/2018 2960
1/12/2018 4280
1/01/2019 4509
1/02/2019 5117
1/03/2019 4460
1/04/2019 4460
1/05/2019 6074
1/06/2019 7828
1/07/2019 8646
1/08/2019 6789
1/09/2019 6538
1/10/2019 4372
1/11/2019 6050
1/12/2019 5535
1/01/2020 4728
1/02/2020 2886
1/03/2020 9636
1/04/2020 7798
1/05/2020 7098
1/06/2020 7484
1/07/2020 4723
1/08/2020 3110
1/09/2020 5829
1/10/2020 6737
1/11/2020 5707
1/12/2020 7133
1/01/2021 10142

Source: www.dfat.gov.au/trade/resources/trade-statistics/Pages/australias-trade-balance

Two-way trade

Asia continues to dominate Australia’s two-way trade flows with 65.2 per cent of the market. China remains our major two-way trading partner. Japan, Republic of Korea and ASEAN also offer significant market opportunities for Australian businesses especially as these economies rebound from COVID-19.

Australia’s two-way trade by region 2019-20

Pie Graph of Australia’s Two-Way Trade by Region 2019-20. Alt text in table below.
Australia’s Two-Way Trade by Region 2019-20. Credit: DFAT.

Alternative text for Australia’s two-way trade by region 2019-20 graph

Region $Billion %Percentage
China 251.1 Asia - 65.2%
Japan 79.1
Republic of Korea 38.9
ASEAN 113.9
Other Asia 86.6
Europe 128 Other - 34.8%
Americas 101.6
Oceania 39.5
Africa 9.8
Other (a) 24.6

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; the Caribbean; Central America and South America.
  • Oceania includes Antarctica and Pacific Island countries and territories.
  • Africa includes Central and West Africa; North Africa and Southern and East Africa.

(a) Includes confidential items of trade.

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

Australia’s top two-way trading partners 2019-20

Australia’s top ten trading partners in order were China, the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand, India, Germany and Malaysia.

China remained our largest two-way trading partner with a 28 per cent share of our two-way trade valued at just over $250 billion. The United States moved up as our second two-way trading partner, replacing Japan, but with only nine per cent of the market valued at $80 billion. The United Kingdom moved up from seventh to become our fifth two-way trading partner replacing Singapore who moved to sixth.

Graph of Australia’s Top Two-Way Trading Partners 2019-20.
1 China. 2 United States. 3 Japan. 4 Republic of Korea. 5 United Kingdom.
Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database, ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.003 and unpublished ABS data.
Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database, ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.003 and unpublished ABS data.

Australia’s top 10 two-way trading partners 2019-20

($ billion)
Rank Trading partners(a)(b) Goods Services Total % share
1 China 232.4 18.7 251.1 28.8
2 United States 55.4 25.4 80.8 9.2
3 Japan 73 6.1 79.1 9.1
4 Republic of Korea 36.5 2.4 38.9 4.5
5 United Kingdom 22.8 13.9 36.7 4.2
6 Singapore 21.7 9.6 31.3 3.6
7 New Zealand 17.6 11.1 28.7 3.3
8 India 15.7 10.6 26.2 3
9 Germany 17.3 4.5 21.8 2.5
10 Malaysia 18.2 3.4 21.6 2.5
  Total top 10 trading partners 510.5 105.6 616.1 70.6
  Total two-way trade(c) 693.8 179.4 873.1 100
of which APEC 543.4 102 645.4 73.9
  ASEAN 87.1 26.7 113.8 13
  EU28  58.7 20 78.7 9
  OECD  281.3 86.7 368 42.1
(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 DFAT website 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.

Exports

Despite disruptions to supply chains due to COVID-19, including border closures and other responses by Australia and our trading partners, exports remained steady. Australians exported just under $475 billion worth of goods and services worldwide during the 2019-20 reporting period with China remaining our largest market.

Australia’s exports(a)(b)

Graph of Australia’s Exports. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s exports graph

Financial year 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
$ billion 257.8 303.7 322.1 306.6 336.3 324.7 319.7 373.7 403.4 470.8 475.2

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Australia’s top 10 export markets 2019-20

($ billion)
Rank Markets(a)(b) Goods Services Total % share
1 China 151.4 16.2 167.6 35.3
2 Japan 53.8 2.4 56.2 11.8
3 Republic of Korea 25.9 1.8 27.6 5.8
4 United States 17.9 9.5 27.4 5.8
5 United Kingdom 15.8 5.1 21 4.4
6 India 10.9 7.7 18.6 3.9
7 Singapore 12.5 4.5 17 3.6
8 New Zealand 10.1 5.6 15.7 3.3
9 Taiwan 11.8 1.1 13 2.7
10 Malaysia 8.2 2.3 10.5 2.2
  Total top 10 markets 318.3 56.3 374.6 78.8
  Total exports(c) 383 92.3 475.2 100
of which APEC 323.6 53.9 377.5 79.4
  ASEAN 39.8 12.8 52.7 11.1
  EU28  11.7 7.1 18.8 4
  OECD  140.8 35.1 175.9 37
(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 DFAT website (www.dfat.gov.au/trade/resources/trade-statistics/Pages/trade-time-seriesdata) 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 export ranking 2019

How we compare with the rest of the world (US$ billion)
Rank Economy Goods(a) Services(b) Total exports % share
1 China 2,499 283 2,783 11.1
2 United States 1,643 876 2,519 10
3 Germany 1,489 341 1,830 7.3
4 Netherlands 709 264 974 3.9
5 Japan 706 205 911 3.6
6 United Kingdom 470 416 886 3.5
7 France 571 288 859 3.4
8 Italy 533 122 655 2.6
9 Republic of Korea 542 102 645 2.6
10 Hong Kong(a) 535 101 636 2.5
11 Singapore 391 205 596 2.4
12 Belgium 445 121 566 2.3
13 Canada 447 100 547 2.2
14 India 324 214 539 2.1
15 Spain 334 158 492 2
22 Australia 272 71 343 1.4
  Total exports 18,933 6,144 25,077 100
(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 exports by sector (a) 2019-20

Pie graph of Australia’s Exports by Sector 2019-20. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s exports by sector 2019-20 graph

Sector $Billion
Minerals & Fuels 245.8
Services 92.3
Rural 46.7
Manufactures 52.3
Gold 25.7
Other Goods 12.4

(a) Balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Services and technology are embedded in all of Australia’s export sectors. Land transport and electricity services used in the mining and export of resources are reflected in trade on a ‘value added’ basis. On a ‘gross exports’ basis, which is the more common statistical practice, these values are not separately identified. However, using the value added measure, Australia’s domestic services industries account for over 45 per cent of the value of exports.

Australia’s top 20 exports 2019-20

Rank Commodity(a) $ million % share % change
1 Iron ores & concentrates 102,864 21.6 32.7
2 Coal 54,620 11.5 -21.5
3 Natural gas 47,525 10 -4.4
4 Education-related travel services(b) 39,661 8.3 4.9
5 Gold 24,394 5.1 29.3
6 Personal travel (excl education) services 16,368 3.4 -27.1
7 Beef 11,258 2.4 18.8
8 Aluminium ores & concentrates
(incl alumina)
8,875 1.9 -21.9
9 Crude petroleum 8,568 1.8 0.9
10 Copper ores & concentrates 6,854 1.4 14.8
11 Professional services 6,107 1.3 9.2
12 Telecom, computer & information services 5,909 1.2 17
13 Financial services 5,696 1.2 14.7
14 Meat (excl beef) 5,520 1.2 7.2
15 Technical & other business services 5,154 1.1 9.3
16 Wheat 3,847 0.8 5.2
17 Aluminium 3,761 0.8 -11.5
18 Other ores & concentrates(c) 3,678 0.8 4.4
19 Pharm products (excl medicaments) 3,631 0.8 22.9
20 Copper 3,433 0.7 -12.8
  Total exports(d) 475,240 100 0.9
(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) Mainly of Lead, Zinc and Manganese ores & concentrates.
(d) Total exports on a balance of payments basis.
Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Minerals and fuels sector

In 2019-20, minerals and fuels remained Australia’s largest export sectors. Australia’s exports of iron ore and concentrates, coal and natural gas remained as our top three exports overall. Whilst iron ore recorded an increase of 32.7 per cent, coal and natural gas declined 21.5 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively.

Through its Critical Minerals Strategy, the Government is committed to realising Australia’s critical minerals potential and positioning Australia as a trusted and first-choice supplier of critical minerals. Work is well underway across government to attract investment and secure offtake of these minerals, including collaboration with key international partners.

Australia’s minerals and fuels exports (a) (b)

Graph of Australia’s Minerals and Fuels Exports. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s minerals and fuels exports graph

Financial year 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
$ billion 109.413 147.177 159.333 144.436 165.853 142.782 126.506 168.173 189.467 239.803 245.849

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Australia’s top 20 minerals and fuels exports 2019-20

Rank Commodity(a)(b) $ million % share % change
1 Iron ores & concentrates 102,864 41.8 32.7
2 Coal 54,620 22.2 -21.5
3 Natural gas 47,525 19.3 -4.4
4 Aluminium ores & concentrates (incl alumina) 8,875 3.6 -21.9
5 Crude petroleum 8,568 3.5 0.9
6 Copper ores & concentrates 6,854 2.8 14.8
7 Other ores & concentrates(c) 3,678 1.5 4.4
8 Refined petroleum 2,411 1 -19.8
9 Precious metal ores & conc (excl gold) 1,868 0.8 24.8
10 Liquefied propane & butane 1,623 0.7 54.7
11 Non-ferrous waste & scrap 1,321 0.5 -2.6
12 Crude minerals 1,237 0.5 -26.6
13 Ferrous waste & scrap 953 0.4 -11.3
14 Nickel ores & concentrates 478 0.2 39.8
15 Stone, sand & gravel 154 0.1 0.5
16 Natural abrasives 87 0 -15.8
17 Residual petroleum products 26 0 -28
18 Petroleum gases 17 0 -56.5
19 Crude fertilisers 12 0 15.3
20 Sulphur & iron pyrites 1 0 -38
  Total minerals and fuels exports(d) 245,849 100 2.5
(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 sector - modes of supply

Decorative image of person embellishing the food on a plate.

Services trade comprises four modes of supply for services

Decorative icon representing Cross Border Supply

Mode 1: Cross Border Supply – where the supplier provides services from one country to another with the use of telecommunications (digital technology) or through the post, but only the service crosses the border and neither the supplier nor the consumer moves. Examples include consultancies, tele-health, distance training or providing legal advice via the telephone.

Decorative icon representing Commercial Presence

Mode 2: Consumption Abroad – where the supplier provides services to customers who cross the border to consume them. Only the consumer moves. For example, students travelling overseas to attend university or school or as tourists.

Decorative icon representing Consumption Abroad.

Mode 3: Commercial Presence - where the services supplier sets up operations in another country to provide services there. Only the supplier moves but by establishing an on-the-ground presence in the consumer market as a locally established affiliate, subsidiary, or representative office. For example, branch offices established overseas by banks, hotels, construction companies, legal firms, etc.)

Decorative icon representing Movement of Natural Persons

Mode 4: Movement of Natural Persons – where the services supplier moves temporarily from one country to another to deliver services there. For Example, fly-in, fly-out mine workers and fruit pickers or a consultant, an architect, or health expert temporarily travelling overseas to provide services.

Impact of COVID-19

The graph below shows a drop in services exports in the March-June 2020 quarter which coincided with the beginnings of international travel restrictions. This drop can be largely attributed to the severe impact of those restrictions on Mode 2 (Tourism and International Student numbers) and Mode 4 where Australian providers travel abroad to deliver services (e.g. health professionals, architects, mining specialists etc). With continuation of international travel restrictions, we can expect to see a rise in mode 1 (Cross-border supply via digital technology) as businesses innovate and adapt their service delivery models to digital platforms.

Australia’s services exports (a)(b)

Graph of Australia’s Services sector impacted by COVID-19. Alt text in table below.
Alternative text for Australia’s services exports graph
Financial year 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
$ billion 55.961 56.652 56.349 57.708 62.502 69.210 75.676 82.318 88.049 97.301 92.261

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Services exports action plan

The Australian Government and the services industry have partnered to develop the first national strategy to boost Australia’s services exports – the Services Exports Action Plan. Over 80 ‘actions’ focussed on achieving five macro-level outcomes form the core of the Action Plan. Its aim is to build an internationally competitive services sector in Australia that underpins and boosts exports and the economy. The Action Plan will increase transparency of government initiatives and actions that are focused on enhancing services exports. For more information and to download the Action Plan: www.services-exports.gov.au

Australia’s Services Exports Action Plan cover photo.

Australia’s services exports(a) 2019-20

  $ million % share % change
Manufactured services on physical inputs owned by others 0 0 ..
Maintenance & repair 33 0 -26.7
Transport 6,886 7.5 -10.9
Passenger(b) 2,462 2.7 -19.9
Freight 283 0.3 2.2
Other transport 2,608 2.8 -10
Postal & courier services 1,533 1.7 3.7
Travel 55,665 60.3 -11.9
Business 1,984 2.2 -31.1
Personal 53,681 58.2 -10.9
- Education-related 37,338 40.5 -1.3
- Other personal (c) 16,343 17.7 -27.2
Other services 29,677 32.2 12.5
Construction 694 0.8 -28.5
Insurance & pension 667 0.7 6.5
Financial 5,346 5.8 7.6
Intellectual property charges 1,249 1.4 -3.7
Telecommunications, computer & information 5,315 5.8 12.6
Other business services 12,006 13 7.8
Personal, cultural and recreational 3,279 3.6 123.7
Government services 1,121 1.2 -5.8
Total services exports 92,261 100 -5.2
(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.

Top 10 country of origin, international students in Australia 2019

Pie Graph of Top 10 Country of Origin, International Students in Australia 2019.
Alt text in table below.
Source: Department of Education and Training International Student Data.

Alternative text for top 10 country of origin, international students in Australia 2019 graph

Country of Origin, No. of Students
China 212,264
India 115,607
Nepal 53,723
Brazil 27,366
Vietnam 26,050
Malaysia 24,361
Republic of Korea 21,175
Colombia 20,718
Indonesia 18,091
Thailand 17,498
Other 221,301
Total 758,154

International student numbers

Graph of Australia’s International Student Numbers. Alt text in table below.
Source: Department of Education and Training International Student Data.

Alternative text for student numbers graph

Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Total 491336 468718 425601 401726 410493 452909 497160 553057 622905 692506 758154

During 2019 demand for Australian education services was strong with 758,154 international student enrolments in Australian education institutions. China and India were the top two source countries with 212,264 and 115,607 enrolments respectively.

Australia’s international visitors, year ending June 2020

Rank Economy Number of visitors ('000) % change on 2018-19
1 New Zealand 1,028 -26.9
2 China 900 -37.2
3 United States 582 -28.4
4 United Kingdom 562 -21.8
5 Japan 375 -22.5
6 Singapore 316 -32.1
7 Malaysia 285 -23.4
8 India 259 -33.5
9 Hong Kong(a) 227 -26.6
10 Republic of Korea 192 -31.5
  Other economies 2,011 -24.8
  Total 6,737 -27.9
(a) Special Administrative Region of China.
Source: Department of Home Affairs.

The data above, reflects the immediate impact the closure of Australia’s international borders, from 17 March to 30 June 2020, has had on tourism, one of our largest export markets.

Top 10 economies by expenditure, year ended June 2020

Rank Economy Number of visitors ('000) % change on 2018-19
1 China 8,410 -29.4
2 United States 2,913 -27
3 United Kingdom 2,617 -22.8
4 New Zealand 1,914 -25.8
5 Japan 1,577 -23
6 India 1,380 -21.8
7 Republic of Korea 1,040 -28.7
8 Singapore 1,039 -32.9
9 Hong Kong (a) 1,000 -26.4
10 Germany 941 -18.4
  Other economies 10,500 -21.5
  Total 33,330 -25.2
(a) Special Administrative Region of China.
Source: Tourism Research Australia: International Visitor Survey.

Manufactures sector

Decorative image of a Jeweller polishing a ring

Australian manufacturing businesses employ around 900,000 Australians. As COVID-19 restrictions closed borders and disrupted established international supply chains , Australian businesses came up with solutions to meet demand. From gin to hand sanitiser, high fashion to personal protective equipment (PPE) there were many examples of innovative Australian businesses rising to the challenges raised by the pandemic.

Australia’s manufactures exports(a)(b)

Graph of Australia’s Manufactures Export. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s manufactures exports graph

Financial year 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
$ billion 39.160 41.322 41.641 39.552 42.081 43.499 44.651 44.237 46.117 53.985 52.329

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Australia’s top 20 manufactures exports 2019-20

Rank Commodity(a)(b) $ million % share % change
1 Aluminium 3,761 7.2 -11.5
2 Pharmaceutical products (excl medicaments) 3,631 6.9 22.9
3 Copper 3,433 6.6 -12.8
4 Medicaments (incl veterinary) 2,912 5.6 10.8
5 Telecom equipment & parts 2,499 4.8 13.8
6 Aircraft, spacecraft & parts 2,354 4.5 -7.6
7 Measuring & analysing instruments 2,043 3.9 35
8 Medical instruments (incl veterinary) 1,709 3.3 3.4
9 Zinc 1,302 2.5 -19
10 Nickel 1,142 2.2 -31.7
11 Perfumery & cosmetics (excl soap) 1,071 2 12.6
12 Pigments, paints & varnishes 987 1.9 0.3
13 Computers 975 1.9 7
14 Vehicle parts & accessories 920 1.8 4.4
15 Paper & paperboard 884 1.7 -13.8
16 Civil engineering equipment & parts 813 1.6 11.8
17 Lead 801 1.5 -13.8
18 Specialised machinery & parts 799 1.5 -0.5
19 Jewellery 680 1.3 19.4
20 Starches, inulin & wheat gluten 665 1.3 1.1
  Total manufactures exports(c) 52,329 100 -3.1
(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.

Rural sector

Australia’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries exports

Despite disruptions to major markets, beef remained our strongest agricultural export with a total value of $11,258 million in 2019-20, while other meat exports (excluding beef) and wheat increased by 7.2 and 5.2 per cent respectively.

Australia’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries exports (a) (b)

Graph of Australia’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Exports. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries exports graph

Financial year 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
$ billion 29.993900 34.259700 38.549600 39.919500 43.431600 46.667100 47.599700 51.869800 52.042800 52.986900 51.863700

(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 and fisheries exports 2019-20

Rank Commodity(a)(b) $ million % share % change
1 Beef 11,258 21.7 18.8
2 Meat (excl beef) 5,520 10.6 7.2
3 Wheat 3,847 7.4 5.2
4 Wine 2,897 5.6 -1.8
5 Edible products & preparations 2,757 5.3 -6.3
6 Fruit & nuts 2,523 4.9 4.2
7 Wool & other animal hair (incl tops) 2,516 4.9 -34.1
8 Live animals (excl seafood) 2,231 4.3 14
9 Sugars, molasses & honey 1,776 3.4 11.9
10 Vegetables 1,471 2.8 23.2
11 Milk, cream, whey & yoghurt 1,451 2.8 5.8
12 Animal feed 1,375 2.7 -2.1
13 Wood in chips or particles 1,238 2.4 -22.5
14 Oil-seeds & oleaginous fruits, soft 1,188 2.3 19.1
15 Barley 1,028 2 -25.6
16 Cheese & curd 985 1.9 -0.4
17 Cotton 964 1.9 -62.3
18 Cereal preparations 925 1.8 -0.5
19 Crustaceans 803 1.5 -21.4
20 Wood, rough 592 1.1 -9.5
  Total agriculture, forestry & fisheries exports(c) 51,864 100 -2.1
(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.

Imports

Decorative image of Decontamination to shipping containers.

Australia’s imports fell by over 5.7 per cent during 2019-20 due to travel related and other restrictions. Total value fell from $421.4 billion in 2018-2019 to $397.9 billion in 2019-2020.

Personal travel services received by Australians abroad was the largest hit with a decline of 28.1 per cent.

Australia’s imports (a)(b)

Graph of Australia’s Imports. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s imports graph

Financial year 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
$ billion 271.2 290 325.8 326.5 343.2 349.4 357.5 363.3 396.3 421.8 397.9

(a) Balance of payments basis.

(b) By value.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

Australia’s top 20 imports 2019-20

Rank Commodity(a)(b) $ million % share % change
1 Personal travel (excl education) services 33,288 8.4 -28.1
2 Refined petroleum 21,721 5.5 -13.4
3 Passenger motor vehicles 19,093 4.8 -11.5
4 Telecom equipment & parts 15,230 3.8 4.4
5 Computers 10,398 2.6 6.5
6 Freight services 10,363 2.6 2.5
7 Crude petroleum 9,474 2.4 -29.4
8 Gold 8,812 2.2 59.7
9 Professional services 8,291 2.1 7.4
10 Medicaments (incl veterinary) 8,124 2 8.6
11 Goods vehicles 8,075 2 -23.6
12 Pharmaceuticals products (excl medicaments) 6,075 1.5 25.5
13 Telecom, computer & information services 5,952 1.5 24.1
14 Technical & other business services 5,792 1.5 4.3
15 Passenger transport services(c) 5,242 1.3 -30.4
16 Charges for intellectual property 4,914 1.2 -2.1
17 Furniture, mattresses & cushions 4,828 1.2 -3.3
18 Civil engineering equipment & parts 4,453 1.1 -12.4
19 Plastic articles 4,099 1 6.1
20 Electrical machinery & parts 3,954 1 -0.2
  Total imports(d) 397,905 100 -5.7
(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 estimates aircraft imports would rank within Australia's top 20 imports with a value around $4.6 billion in 2018-19. .
(c) Includes Related agency fees & commissions.
(d) 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 top 10 import sources 2019-20

($ billion)
Rank Sources(a)(b) Goods Services Total % share
1 China 81 2.4 83.4 21
2 United States 37.4 15.9 53.4 13.4
3 Japan 19.2 3.7 23 5.8
4 Germany 13.7 3 16.7 4.2
5 Thailand 14.6 1.8 16.3 4.1
6 United Kingdom 7 8.8 15.7 4
7 Singapore 9.2 5.1 14.3 3.6
8 New Zealand 7.5 5.5 13 3.3
9 Republic of Korea 10.6 0.6 11.2 2.8
10 Malaysia 10.1 1.1 11.2 2.8
Total top 10 sources 210.3 47.8 258.1 64.9
Total imports(c) 310.8 87.1 397.9 100
of which: APEC 219.9 48.1 267.9 67.3
  ASEAN 47.3 13.8 61.1 15.4
  EU (excl UK) 47 12.9 59.9 15.1
  OECD 140.4 51.6 192.1 48.3
(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 (http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/trade-investment/Pages/dfat-adjustments-to-abs-official-trade-data) for more information and a list of the commodities excluded.
(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 imports by sector(a) 2019-20

Graph of Australia’s Imports by Sector 2019-20. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s imports by sector 2019-20 graph

Sector $Billion
Intermediate & other 125.4
Consumption goods 103.2
Services 87.1
Capital goods 73.3
Gold 8.9

(a) Balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS catalogues 5302.0 & 5368.0.

The largest share of Australia’s imports by sector were intermediate goods, comprising raw materials and components used by Australian firms to make goods for domestic and export markets.

Australia’s global import ranking 2019

How we compare with the rest of the world (US$ billion)
Rank Economy Goods(a) Services(b) Total imports % share
1 United States 2,567 588 3,156 12.6
2 China 2,078 501 2,579 10.3
3 Germany 1,234 365 1,599 6.4
4 United Kingdom 696 284 980 3.9
5 Japan 721 204 925 3.7
6 France 654 263 917 3.7
7 Netherlands 635 246 882 3.5
8 India 486 179 665 2.7
9 Hong Kong (c) 578 79 657 2.6
10 Republic of Korea 503 126 630 2.5
11 Italy 474 124 598 2.4
12 Canada 464 115 579 2.3
13 Singapore 359 199 558 2.2
14 Belgium 426 120 547 2.2
15 Mexico 467 36 504 2
23 Australia 224 72 296 1.2
  Total imports 19,263 5,826 25,090  
(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 investment landscape

Decorative image of Light rail network, active in Sydney.

Foreign investment plays an important role in the Australian economy by promoting economic activity.

There are several types of foreign investment: direct, portfolio (for example, purchase of shares and securities) and ’s investment (for example loans and reserve assets). Foreign direct investment (FDI) occurs when a foreign individual or entity establishes a new business or acquires 10 per cent or more share of a local enterprise and has some control over its operations.

FDI through both majority and minority ownership supports 1 in 10 jobs in Australia. Businesses with foreign investment generated around 40 per cent of Australia’s total exports, worth around $132 billion. FDI has given the Australian economy depth and resilience, it has stimulated growth, and it has added to prosperity by enabling jobs, services and opportunities for Australians.

Australia will continue to welcome foreign investment as we reshape Australia’s economy in the rebound from COVID. The global marketplace for foreign investment is competitive. Businesses seeking investment must show the potential for an attractive return. Austrade assists by engaging with investors to promote Australia’s long-term positive fundamentals and opportunities in priority sectors such as advanced manufacturing and the circular economy.

Australians expect investment in Australia to be on our terms. The Australian Government ensures that investments are not contrary to the national interest. Through a package of measures and reforms implemented in January 2021, we have strengthened our foreign investment regime to protect national security, streamline non-sensitive investments, and ensure investors comply with conditions they have signed up to.

Inbound investment

The United States and United Kingdom are the biggest investors in Australia, followed by Belgium, Japan and Hong Kong (SAR of China).

China is our ninth largest foreign investor, with 2.0 per cent of the total. However, the levels of Hong Kong (SAR of China) and Chinese investment in Australia have grown significantly over the past decade.

The United States was Australia’s largest foreign investor by a wide margin, accounting for $983.7 billion in investments in Australia at the end of 2019, up 3.6 per cent on 2018.

Australia’s Top 10 investment sources(a) 2019

($ million)
Rank(b) Country Direct investment Total investment(c)
1 United States 205,163 983,742
2 United Kingdom 127,121 686,115
3 Belgium(d) 3,543 348,133
4 Japan 116,102 241,091
5 Hong Kong(e) 16,119 140,726
6 Singapore 36,065 99,916
7 Netherlands 54,788 86,714
8 Luxembourg 8,065 85,464
9 China 45,992 78,152
10 New Zealand 5,591 64,360
Total all economies 1,019,483 3,844,537
of which: APEC 500,732 1,745,910
  ASEAN 56,596 134,653
  EU (excl UK) 110,959 683,868
  OECD 630,754 2,815,945
(a) Foreign investment in Australia: level of investment (stocks) as at 31 December 2018.
(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 of debt 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 inward foreign rirect investment global ranking 2019

How we compare with the rest of the world
Rank Country US$b % change % share
1 United States 9,466 27.4 26
2 United Kingdom 2,075 7.5 5.7
3 Hong Kong(a) 1,868 -4.9 5.1
4 China 1,769 8.7 4.9
5 Netherlands 1,750 3.8 4.8
6 Singapore 1,698 10.5 4.7
7 Switzerland 1,351 -0.3 3.7
8 Ireland 1,120 12 3.1
9 Canada 1,037 21.7 2.8
10 Germany 953 2 2.6
11 France 869 5.9 2.4
12 British Virgin Islands 826 7.6 2.3
13 Spain 752 2.2 2.1
14 Australia 714 1.8 2
15 Brazil 641 12.7 1.8
  World inward stock 36,470 22.9  
Special Administrative Region of China.
Source: UNCTADstat database.

Australia’s top 5 total foreign investment sources 2019(a)

Total foreign investment includes all types of investment: direct, portfolio, financial derivatives, reserve assets and other investment.

Graph of Australia’s Top 5 Total Foreign Investment Sources 2019. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s top 5 total foreign investment sources 2019 graph

Country United States United Kingdom Belgium(a) Japan Hong Kong(b)
$ billion 983.7 686.1 348.1 241.1 140.7

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

(b) Special Administrative Region of China.

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s top 5 foreign direct investment sources 2019(a)

Foreign Direct investment is where an investor acquires 10 per cent or more ownership in a business or asset.

Graph of Australia’s Top 5 Foreign Direct Investment Sources 2019. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s top 5 foreign direct investment sources 2019 graph

Country United States United Kingdom Japan Netherlands Canada
$ billion 205.2 127.1 116.1 54.8 47.1

(a) Data at year end.

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s foreign direct investment by industry 2019(a)

Australia’s Foreign Direct Investment by Industry 2019. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for australia’s foreign direct investment by industry 2019 graph

Industry $Billion
Mining & Quarrying 360.1
Manufacturing 131.4
Financial & Insurance activities 113.2
Real Estate activities 110.9
Wholesale & Retail trade 60.3
Information & Communication 30.5
Other 213.1

(a) Data at year end.

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Foreign investment in Australia by type 2019(a)

Graph of Foreign Investment in Australia by Type 2019. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for foreign investment in Australia by type 2019 graph

Type Direct investment Portfolio investment Financial derivatives Other investment (a)
$ billion 1019.5 1996.4 285.8 542.8

(a) Data at year end.

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

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Outbound investment

Australian businesses invest huge amounts of money in other economies. At the end of 2019, the total amount of Australian money invested overseas was around $3.0 trillion.

The United States and the United Kingdom were the top two destinations for Australian investment, followed by Japan and New Zealand as our third and fourth largest destinations.

At the end of 2019, Australian investments in the US totalled $837 billion and our investment in the UK was $507 billion.

Australian investment in Asia has increased dramatically over the past decade. Between 2009 and 2019, our investments to major Asian economies (China, Hong Kong (SAR of China), India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan and all ASEAN members) has increased from $120 billion to $472 billion.

Australia’s top 5 total investment abroad destinations 2019(a)

Graph of Australia’s Top 5 Total Investment Abroad Destinations 2019. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s top 5 total investment abroad destinations 2019 graph

Country United States United Kingdom Japan New Zealand Germany
$ billion 837.4 507.4 139.6 130.5 97.1

(a) Data at year end.

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s top 10 investment destinations(a) 2019

($ million)
Rank(b) Country Direct investment Total investment(c)
1 United States 145,818 837,359
2 United Kingdom 143,461 507,440
3 Japan 1,653 139,567
4 New Zealand 83,608 130,451
5 Germany np 97,057
6 China 15,511 85,268
7 Singapore 28,112 84,077
8 Canada 35,096 83,400
9 Cayman Islands np 82,381
10 Hong Kong(d) 7,631 63,426
Total all countries 826,804 2,953,056
of which: APEC 352,815 1,530,987
  ASEAN 45,448 124,683
  EU (excl UK) 60,003 327,428
  OECD 476,026 2,062,249
(a) Australian investment abroad: level of investment (stocks) as at 31 December 2019.
(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 direct investment abroad by industry 2019(a)(b)

Graph of Australia’s Direct Investment Abroad by Industry 2019 (Data at year end.)
Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s direct investment abroad by industry 2019 graph

Industry $Billion
Manufacturing 197.4
Financial & Insurance activities 192.9
Mining & Quarrying 173.6
Real estate activities 19.1
Human Health & Social Work activites 9.9
Wholesale & Retail trade 9.5
Other 114.3

(a) Data at year end.

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

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s top 5 direct investment abroad destinations 2019(a)

Graph of Australia’s Top 5 Foreign Direct Investment Sources 2019. Alt text in table below.

Alternative text for Australia’s top 5 direct investment abroad destinations 2019 graph

Country United States United Kingdom New Zealand Canada Bermuda
$ billion 145.8 143.5 83.6 35.1 np

(a) Data at year end.

Based on ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australia’s outward direct investment abroad global ranking 2019

($ million)
Rank Country US$b % change % share
1 United States 7,722 19.7 22.3
2 Netherlands 2,565 7.8 7.4
3 China 2,099 5.9 6.1
4 United Kingdom 1,949 9 5.6
5 Japan 1,818 16 5.3
6 Hong Kong(a) 1,794 -1.9 5.2
7 Germany 1,719 4.1 5
8 Canada 1,652 21 4.8
9 France 1,533 2.2 4.4
10 Switzerland 1,526 2.1 4.4
11 Singapore 1,106 7.8 3.2
12 Ireland 1,085 15.1 3.1
13 British Virgin Islands 911 4.7 2.6
14 Belgium 656 10.6 1.9
15 Spain 607 4 1.8
16 Australia 579 16.5 1.7
  World outward stock 34,571 9.7  
(a) Special Administrative Region of China.
Source: UNCTADstat database.

Two-way investment

At the end of 2019 two-way Australian investment of all types amounted to $6.8 trillion dollars. Of that total, $3.8 trillion was invested in Australia by foreign entities or persons, while Australians or Australian entities invested $3.0 trillion overseas.

Australia’s top 5 two-way investment partners 2019

Map of the world highlighting Australia’s Top 5 Two-Way Investment Partners for 2019. Alt text in table below.
Source: ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Alternative text for Australia’s top 5 two-way investment partners 2019 infographic

Rank Country $Billion
1 USA 1,821
2 United Kindom 1,194
3 Japan 381
4 Belgium 356
5 Hong Kong (SAR of China) 204
Decorative image of a physiotherapist helping a young man with prosthetic leg.

In September 2020, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a new dataset: Australian Outward Foreign Affiliates Trade 2018-19. This data is the first time since 2002-03 that the ABS has measured the overseas economic activity of Australia’s 5,176 majority-owned foreign affiliates (i.e. subsidiaries, branches and joint ventures where Australian ownership is at least 50 per cent).

In 2018-19 these entities posted sales of $213 billion in their host economies, employed 412,000 people at an average wage of $79,784 per annum, and added $160 billion in value to those economies. They also remitted $15 billion back to Australia in that year.

This dataset also highlights the importance of foreign affiliates in the delivery of particular Australian services, especially in financial and insurance, construction, engineering and other technical and health services. For example, nearly all health services provided abroad in 2018-19 were delivered via foreign affiliates: $6.4 billion in affiliates sales abroad compared with just $34 million in exports identified in the annual balance-of-payments figures.

Multilateral and regional organisations

Australia is one of 164 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the body that is responsible for negotiating global trade rules and resolving trade disputes. The WTO has also been vital for maintaining a stable global trading environment during the pandemic and will play a key role in economic recovery. We want to see the WTO reinvigorated with a more effective dispute settlement mechanism.  This will make it stronger and more relevant to today’s trade environment.

To this end, we are leading an initiative to develop international rules for e-commerce, and pushing for global agricultural reforms to address trade-distorting agricultural subsidies. At the same time, we are working to strengthen global trade in services rules.

Australia is an active and effective member of the Group of Twenty or G20, the world’s premier forum for international economic cooperation. The G20’s geographically dispersed membership of 19 countries and the European Union represent over 85 per cent of the world economy, more than 75 per cent of global trade and almost two-thirds of the world’s population. Australia hosted the G20 in 2014. We are working with Italy as it has the 2021 Presidency.

We promote our regional trade and investment interests through our membership of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. APEC is the premier economic organisation in a region with 2.9 billion people that generates around 60 per cent of world GDP. The collaborative approach to breaking down barriers to trade across our region has yielded a wide range of reforms since APEC was founded in 1989. These reforms have directly benefitted Australian businesses and consumers and added to the region’s prosperity.

In 2021, Australia celebrates 50 years of membership in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD is the world’s premier economic policy development and standard setting body. Its 37 member countries, from Europe, the Americas and the Indo-Pacific, represent around 50 per cent of global GDP and are committed to developing and delivering better policies for better lives. Founded on a shared commitment to liberal democratic values, human rights and a rules-based international order, the OECD is a trusted and credible source of data, analysis and policy advice.The Hon Mathias Cormann commences as the OECD Secretary-General on 1 June 2021, the first time an Australian will lead the organisation – a significant opportunity to strengthen the links between OECD members and the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia also supports global cooperation, policies and dialogue to facilitate trade and investment through our membership of a range of other bodies, including the World Intellectual Organization and World Customs Organization.

World Trade Organization logo
G20 Italia 2021 logo
APEC logo
Australia celebrates 50 years of OECD membership logo

Australia in value chains

A Global Value Chain (GVC) is a network of interlinked stages of production in the manufacture of goods and services that cross international borders.

GVCs are becoming an increasingly important feature of international trade and investment, particularly in Asia. The benefits to industry, business, exporters and consumers from participation in GVCs are manifold. GVCs provide scope for firms to enter markets by specialising in niche intermediate activities within a chain and allow suppliers to upgrade production into higher-value segments of their industries.

As an example of a GVC a mining technology business in Queensland, that designs and produces drilling machinery could import vehicles from Japan and engines from Canada. The Australian business could then combine the imported inputs with parts supplied domestically to produce a drilling rig for export.

Info-graphic of Australian’s jobs and resources benefit through global value chains.

More information

Department of Foreign affairs and trade Australian office network

Head Office

Canberra
Ph: 02 6261 1111

Australian offices

New South Wales state office
Sydney (DFAT switchboard)
Ph: 02 6261 1111

Northern Territory office
Darwin
Ph: 08 8982 4199

Queensland state office
Brisbane
Ph: 07 3405 4799

South Australia state office
Adelaide (DFAT switchboard)
Ph: 02 6261 1111

Tasmania state office
Hobart
Ph: 03 6238 4099

Victoria state office
Melbourne
Ph: 03 9221 5444

Western Australia state office
Perth
Ph: 08 9231 4499

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