Trade at a Glance 2012

Trade at a Glance 2012

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

October 2012

ISSN 1839-1842 (Online)

ISBN 978-1-74322-062-7 (Web page)

ISBN 978-1-74322-061-0 (PDF document)

Trade at a Glance 2013 is due for release in October 2013

Trade Performance at a Glance

Profile of Australia's Trade in 2011

Australia's two-way trade reached a record $608.2 billion in 2011.

Minerals and fuels, especially iron ore and coal, played a vital role in Australia's economic success, making up over half of the nation's exports. Australia's total goods and services exports reached $313.3 billion.

Other leading exports included services such as education and tourism, manufactured goods (including pharmaceuticals and cars) and agricultural produce.

Imports are also integral to the success of the Australian economy, providing crucial inputs to domestic industries. Some key imports in 2011 included crude and refined petroleum, telecom equipment and computers.

China, Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea were the nation's top four trading partners once again in 2011. Trade largely focused on the Asia-Pacific region, with over 70 per cent taking place with member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group.

Exports of goods and services 2011(a) Share of exports by sector

Exports of goods and services 2011(a) Share of exports by sector

(a) Balance of payments basis. Based on ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's Trade Performance in 2011

Australia's trade in goods and services reached a new high in 2011. Two-way trade grew by 9.9 per cent to $608.2 billion in 2011, up from $553.2 billion in 2010.

The value of Australia's exports grew 10.2 per cent to a new record of $313.3 billion. This was driven by strong demand and high prices received for Australia's metal ores, minerals and coal. Over the past year, the value of minerals exports increased by almost 25 per cent to $86.7 billion.

Australia's manufacturing exports also performed well in 2011, growing by three per cent to $41.7 billion, despite the challenges posed by the continuing strength of the Australian dollar.

Australia's record export performance resulted in an $18.3 billion trade surplus in 2011. This is an increase of $3.1 billion on the surplus recorded in 2010.

Exports of goods and services ($ billion) (a)

Exports of goods and services ($ billion)

(a) Balance of payments basis. Based on ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's Trade and Economic Statistics

Australia's leading exports (goods & services) 2011(a)
$ Billion
Iron ore & concentrates 64.1
Coal 46.8
Gold(b) 16.0
Education-related travel services 15.1
Personal travel (excl education) services 11.8
Crude petroleum 11.5
Natural gas 11.1
Wheat 6.1
Aluminium ores & concentrates (incl alumina) 5.4
Copper ores & concentrates 5.4
Beef 4.7
Aluminium 4.7
Copper 3.9
Business travel services 3.6
Technical & other business services 3.4
Medicaments (incl veterinary) 3.3
Professional services 3.2
Refined petroleum 2.9
Wool & other animal hair (incl tops) 2.8
Passenger transport services(c) 2.6
Total exports(b) 313.3
  • (a) Goods trade is on a recorded trade basis. Services trade is on a balance of payments basis.
  • (b) Balance of payments basis.
  • (c) Includes related agency fees and commissions.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's top 10 two-way trading partners 2011 ($ billion)
Goods(a) Services(b) Total(c)(d) % Share
1 China 113.6 7.4 121.1 19.9
2 Japan 68.4 4.0 72.5 11.9
3 United States(e) 38.1 16.1 54.2 8.9
4 Republic of Korea 30.4 2.2 32.7 5.4
5 Singapore 20.5 7.1 27.7 4.6
6 United Kingdom 14.3 8.7 23.0 3.8
7 New Zealand 15.3 6.3 21.6 3.5
8 India 17.5 2.9 20.3 3.3
9 Thailand 15.2 3.3 18.5 3.0
10 Malaysia 13.1 3.0 16.0 2.6
Total two-way trade(b) 499.1 109.1 608.2 100.0
of which: APEC(e) 367.7 63.9 431.6 71.0
ASEAN10 68.4 19.9 88.4 14.5
EU27(c) 60.0 21.3 81.4 13.4
OECD(c)(e) 225.9 55.0 280.9 46.2
  • (a) Recorded trade basis.
  • (b) Balance of payments basis.
  • (c) Excludes imports of aircraft from regional import total from Sep-08 onwards (excl the United States - see footnote (e)). This has a significant impact on import totals for France.
  • (d) Total may not sum due to rounding.
  • (e) Based on unpublished ABS data and includes confidential aircraft imports for the US only.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database, ABS catalogues 5302.0. & 5368.0.55.004 and ABS unpublished data.

Australia's major goods Imports 2011
Goods (a) $ Million % Share
Crude petroleum 20,830 8.8
Refined petroleum 14,305 6.1
Passenger motor vehicles 14,159 6.0
Medicaments (incl veterinary) 8,530 3.6
Telecom equipment & parts 8,322 3.5
Computers 6,634 2.8
Goods vehicles 6,153 2.6
Gold(b) 5,954 2.5
Civil engineering equipment & parts 4,257 1.8
Furniture, mattresses & cushions 2,780 1.2
Rubber tyres, treads & tubes 2,672 1.1
Vehicle parts & accessories 2,641 1.1
Measuring & analysing instruments 2,634 1.1
Electrical machinery & parts 2,508 1.1
Prams, toys, games & sporting goods 2,352 1.0
Monitors, projectors & TVs 2,290 1.0
Heating & cooling equipment & parts 2,173 0.9
Electronic integrated circuits 2,096 0.9
Ships & boats (incl hovercraft) 2,056 0.9
Plastic articles 2,042 0.9
Total goods imports(c) 235,932 100.0
  • (a) Recorded trade basis.
  • (b) Balance of payments basis.
  • (c) Total goods imports on a balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's major goods exports 2011
Goods(a) $ million % share
Iron ores & concentrates 64,107 24.4
Coal 46,762 17.8
Gold(b) 15,971 6.1
Crude petroleum 11,451 4.4
Natural gas 11,084 4.2
Wheat 6,076 2.3
Aluminium ores & concentrates (incl alumina) 5,443 2.1
Copper ores & concentrates 5,441 2.1
Beef 4,684 1.8
Aluminium 4,656 1.8
Copper 3,853 1.5
Medicaments (incl veterinary) 3,278 1.2
Refined petroleum 2,938 1.1
Wool & other animal hair (incl tops) 2,837 1.1
Cotton 2,537 1.0
Confidential mineral ores 2,497 0.9
Meat (excl beef) 2,375 0.9
Alcoholic beverages 2,033 0.8
Zinc ores & concentrates 1,461 0.6
Barley 1,378 0.5
Total goods exports(c) 263,151 100.0
  • (a) Recorded trade basis.
  • (b) Balance of payments basis.
  • (c) Total goods exports on a balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's services imports 2011(a)
Services $ Million % Share
Manufactured services on physical inputs owned by others 1 0.0
Maintenance & repair 412 0.7
Transport
Passenger(b) 6,389 10.8
Freight 8,354 14.2
Other(c) 313 0.5
Postal & courier services 108 0.2
Total transport 15,164 25.7
Travel
Business 3,020 5.1
Personal 23,072 39.1
> Education-related 910 1.5
> Other personal travel(d) 22,162 37.6
Total travel 26,092 44.2
Other
Construction 0 0.0
Insurance & pension 577 1.0
Financial 867 1.5
Intellectual property charges 3,949 6.7
Telecom, computer & information services 1,902 3.2
Other business services 7,570 12.8
Personal, cultural and recreational 1,579 2.7
Government services 888 1.5
Total other 17,332 29.4
Total services imports 59,001 100.0
  • (a) Balance of payments basis.
  • (b) Passenger services include air transport-related agency fees & commissions.
  • (c) Transportation operation lease fees are included.
  • (d) Outbound tourism for mainly recreational purposes.

Based on ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's services exports 2011(a)
Services $ million % share
Manufactured services on physical inputs owned by others 26 0.1
Maintenance & repair 40 0.1
Transport
Passenger(b) 2,636 5.3
Freight 390 0.8
Other(c) 2,231 4.5
Postal & courier services 990 2.0
Total transport 6,247 12.5
Travel
Business 3,561 7.1
Personal 26,922 53.7
> Education-related 15,127 30.2
> Other personal(d) 11,795 23.5
Total travel 30,483 60.8
Other
Construction 74 0.1
Insurance & pension 405 0.8
Financial 1,356 2.7
Intellectual property charges 893 1.8
Telecom, computer & information services 1,686 3.4
Other business services 7,183 14.3
Personal, cultural and recreational 859 1.7
Government services 852 1.7
Total other 13,308 26.6
Total services exports 50,104 100.0
  • (a) Balance of payments basis.
  • (b) Passenger services include air transport-related agency fees & commissions.
  • (c) Transportation operation lease fees are included.
  • (d) Inbound tourism for mainly recreational purposes.

Based on ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's global export position

How we compare to the rest of the world 2011 (US $ billion)

Rank Country Goods(a) Services(b) Total exports % share
1 China 1,899 183 2,081 9.3
2 United States 1,481 600 2,081 9.3
3 Germany 1,474 258 1,731 7.7
4 Japan 823 146 969 4.3
5 Netherlands 660 131 791 3.5
6 France 597 162 759 3.4
7 United Kingdom 473 278 751 3.4
8 Republic of Korea 555 95 650 2.9
9 Italy 523 108 631 2.8
10 Russian Federation 522 55 577 2.6
11 Hong Kong(c) 456 121 576 2.6
12 Belgium 476 88 564 2.5
13 Singapore 410 125 535 2.4
14 Canada 452 76 528 2.4
15 India 297 149 446 2.0
16 Spain 297 142 439 2.0
17 Saudi Arabia 365 13 377 1.7
18 Mexico 350 15 365 1.6
19 Taiwan 308 46 354 1.6
20 Switzerland 235 98 333 1.5
21 Australia 271 51 322 1.4
22 United Arab Emirates 285 14 299 1.3
23 Brazil 256 38 294 1.3
24 Thailand 229 41 270 1.2
25 Sweden 187 76 264 1.2
26 Malaysia 227 36 263 1.2
27 Austria 179 60 240 1.1
28 Ireland 127 108 235 1.0
29 Poland 187 37 224 1.0
30 Indonesia 201 21 222 1.0
Total exports 18,217 4,150 22,367  
  • (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 10 export markets 2011 ($ billion)(a)

Australia's top 10 export markets 2011 ($ billion)

(a) Goods figures recorded trade basis; services figures balance of payments basis. Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogues 5302.0. and 5368.0.55.004.

Australia's global import position

How we compare to the rest of the world 2011 (US $ billion)

Rank Country Goods(a) Services(b) Total imports % share
1 United States 2,265 412 2,677 12.0
2 China 1,743 238 1,981 8.9
3 Germany 1,254 285 1,539 6.9
4 Japan 854 167 1,021 4.6
5 France 715 142 856 3.8
6 United Kingdom 636 178 814 3.6
7 Netherlands 597 119 716 3.2
8 Italy 557 116 673 3.0
9 Republic of Korea 524 99 624 2.8
10 India 451 131 582 2.6
11 Hong Kong(c) 511 56 567 2.5
12 Canada 462 101 563 2.5
13 Belgium 461 82 543 2.4
14 Singapore 366 111 476 2.1
15 Spain 362 92 454 2.0
16 Russian Federation 323 92 415 1.9
17 Mexico 361 30 391 1.7
18 Taiwan 281 42 323 1.4
19 Brazil 237 76 313 1.4
20 Australia 244 60 304 1.4
21 Thailand 228 51 279 1.2
22 Turkey 241 21 262 1.2
23 Switzerland 208 47 255 1.1
24 United Arab Emirates 205 45 250 1.1
25 Poland 208 30 238 1.1
26 Austria 192 45 236 1.1
27 Sweden 175 56 231 1.0
28 Malaysia 188 38 225 1.0
29 Indonesia 176 32 209 0.9
30 Saudi Arabia 112 78 190 0.9
Total imports 18,381 3,974 22,355
  • (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 10 import sources 2011 ($ billion)(a)

Australia's top 10 import sources 2011 ($ billion)

(a) Goods figures recorded trade basis; services figures balance of payments basis.

(b) Based on unpublished ABS data and includes confidential aircraft imports for the US only.

(c) Excludes imports of aircraft from regional import totals from Sep-08 onwards (excl the US - see (b))

Foreign investment in Australia 2011 ($ million)(a)
Country Level of direct investment in Australia Level of total investment in Australia
United States 122,379 555,868
United Kingdom 69,747 470,846
Japan 52,334 123,410
Singapore 19,966 48,709
Netherlands 32,870 43,706
Switzerland 23,005 42,281
Hong Kong(b) 6,714 39,416
New Zealand 5,980 29,707
Canada 17,326 25,048
Luxembourg 2,344 23,542
Total all countries 507,360 2,030,032
Of which: APEC 249,764 891,925
ASEAN10 27,724 79,263
EU27 143,434 637,176
OECD 367,790 1,420,183
  • (a) Foreign investment in Australia: level of investment (stocks) as at 31 December 2011, by selected country and country group.
  • (b) Special Administrative Region of China.

Source: ABS catalogue 5352.0.

Australian investment abroad 2011 ($ million)(a)
Country Level of direct investment abroad Total Australian investment abroad
United States 97,854 410,612
United Kingdom 52,105 192,944
New Zealand 40,159 74,267
Canada 23,295 43,476
Germany 7,394 36,260
Japan 281 34,595
France 491 27,245
Netherlands 4,598 26,875
Singapore 7,061 21,350
Hong Kong (b) 3,865 20,386
Total all countries 338,934 1,175,380
Of which: APEC 209,176 676,904
ASEAN10 17,801 41,826
EU27 75,705 356,141
OECD 247,671 929,597
  • (a) Australian investment abroad: level of investment (stocks) as at 31 December 2011, by selected country and country group.
  • (b) Special Administrative Region of China.

Source: ABS catalogue 5352.0.

The Australian Economy

The Australian economy remains one of the strongest developed economies in the world. While most other advanced economies are struggling, Australia has grown by about 10 per cent since the start of the Global Financial Crisis. In 2011 Australia's economic growth was 2.2 per cent and the average unemployment rate was one of the lowest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at 5.1 per cent. Despite continuing international uncertainty, Australia's economic prospects remain positive, with low public debt, low unemployment, contained inflation and continuing strong business investment.

The strong performance of the Australian economy is due to a number of factors, including:

On 1 July 2012, the Government introduced two structural reforms to ensure continued economic success: the Mineral Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) and carbon pricing. The MRRT will help to spread the benefits of the Australian mining boom across the economy. Carbon pricing will create incentives for business to invest in clean technology or find less energy-intensive ways of operating. This will enable the economy to adapt to a clean energy future, while sustaining strong economic growth.

Australia's industry structure 2011
Gross value added(a) Employed persons(b)
$m % share(c) '000 % share
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 29,901 2.4 328.1 2.9
Mining 98,666 7.9 222.7 1.9
Manufacturing 105,877 8.5 967.6 8.5
Services 906,554 72.6 9,880.5 86.4
Electricity, gas, water & waste 28,672 2.3 151.6 1.3
Construction 104,914 8.4 1,037.7 9.1
Wholesale trade 56,501 4.5 418.4 3.7
Retail trade 59,139 4.7 1,231.4 10.8
Accommodation & food services 30,663 2.5 785.2 6.9
Transport, postal & warehousing 68,478 5.5 585.4 5.1
Information, media & telecommunications 42,709 3.4 210.1 1.8
Finance & insurance 129,757 10.4 423.6 3.7
Rental, hiring & real estate 26,841 2.2 199.1 1.7
Professional, scientific & technical 87,769 7.0 870.3 7.6
Administrative & support 31,369 2.5 403.3 3.5
Public administration & safety 66,726 5.3 723.7 6.3
Education & training 59,516 4.8 858.9 7.5
Health care & social assistance 79,081 6.3 1,317.4 11.5
Arts & recreation 11,552 0.9 212.2 1.9
Other services 22,867 1.8 452.5 4.0
Ownership of dwellings 107,412 8.6    
Gross value added at basic prices(d) 1,248,413 100.0
Taxes less subsidies on products 91,295
Statistical discrepancy(e) -4,407
Total(d) 1,335,303   11,436 100.0
  • (a) The term is used to describe gross product by industry and by sector (Chain Volume Measures reference year 2009-10). Industry breakdown based on ANZSIC 2006.
  • (b) Derived from seasonally adjusted data on an annual average.
  • (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. GDP at purchasers' (market) prices is derived by adding taxes less subsidies on products to gross value added at basic prices.
  • (e) Production approach.

Based on ABS catalogues 5206.0, 6202.0 and 6203.0.

Key economic indicators Australia
2001 2009 2010 2011
Demand and production - chain volume measures, reference year 2009-10
Gross domestic product(a) % change 2.8 1.5 2.4 2.2
Exports of goods & services(a) % change 2.8 2.4 5.4 -1.3
Imports of goods & services(a) % change -4.5 -8.6 14.3 11.2
Labour force
Population(b) '000 19,534 21,929 22,183 22,485
Labour force '000 9,746 11,602 11,868 12,050
Employed persons '000 9,088 10,953 11,247 11,435
– Annual growth % 1.1 0.7 2.7 1.7
Unemployment rate % 6.8 5.6 5.2 5.1
Prices and interest rates
Consumer prices % change 3.1 2.1 2.7 3.1
Interest rates - 90 day bills(c) % pa 4.9 3.4 4.7 4.8
  • (a) Derived from annual movements in original data.
  • (b) At end of period.
  • (c) Annual average.

Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics and Reserve Bank, various catalogues.

Global Value Chains

Have you ever considered how a modern plane is constructed? The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is assembled in the United States using components built around the world. The centre fuselage is from Italy, the mid-forward fuselage is from Japan, the Rolls Royce engines are from the United Kingdom and a vital wing component - the moveable trailing edge - is designed and produced in Melbourne at Boeing Aerospace Australia. Bringing all these parts together to build a Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an example of a global value chain (GVC) in action.

A 'value chain' is the full range of activities involved in designing, producing and delivering a good or service. The nature of trade has transformed in recent decades with value chains becoming 'global' and activities divided across borders. The OECD estimates that more than half of the value of world exports today relates to products traded as part of GVCs.

Value chains have become 'global' for a number of reasons, including:

The Importance of GVCs in Trade Today

The growing importance of GVCs has further increased the incentive for countries to cut barriers to trade. This is because most industries now source their inputs to production from every corner of the globe, as part of GVCs. This means that tariffs and import restrictions will impact the competitiveness of a country's local industries, as this would make imported inputs more expensive.

Active involvement in GVCs brings great benefits to Australia, as seen in the example of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This is Australia's largest aerospace contract to date, worth approximately $4 billion over 20 years, and it has secured high-quality jobs for Australians. So that Australia can continue to be a successful trading nation into the future, we need to keep up our trade-related reform and efforts to enhance the competitiveness of our economy. This will allow Australia to integrate further with GVCs, leading to greater levels of economic growth and employment.

Partners Across the globe are bringing the 787 together

Partners Across the globe are bringing the 787 together

Trade Policy at a Glance

Australia's Trade Policy

Trading our way to more jobs and prosperity

The Government's vision for the nation is of a prosperous, innovative and sustainable Australia, providing opportunity for all. International trade contributes to the fulfilment of that vision by increasing productivity and international competitiveness, creating a high-skill, high-wage workforce and building national prosperity.

With these objectives in mind, the Government's trade policy statement, Trading our way to more jobs and prosperity, released by the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness Dr Craig Emerson on 12 April 2011, sets out five guiding principles:

Consistent with these principles the Government will continue to pursue improved market access for Australian exporters in global markets. The number one priority is to achieve multilateral trade outcomes through the World Trade Organization (WTO). At the regional level, the Government will continue to pursue trade liberalisation through APEC and other regional trade arrangements. The Government will also pursue high-quality, comprehensive bilateral free trade agreements, where these will benefit both Australia and our trading partners.

Australia and the WTO

As a founding member of both the WTO in 1995 and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, Australia has a longstanding commitment to the multilateral trading system operated by the WTO. This system provides the framework governing world trade. Members agree on legally binding rules that provide important certainty for their exporters. Members can use the WTO's dispute settlement system to uphold these rules.

Australia also works actively to maintain these rules through participation in WTO committees. The committees provide the opportunity to discuss trade issues amongst WTO members. They also enhance transparency by requiring WTO members to notify them of measures they intend introducing that could affect trade.

Australia is deeply committed to opening markets through multilateral trade negotiations in the WTO. Through such negotiations – including the current Doha Round of trade negotiations – Australia seeks market access for Australian exports across various negotiating sectors, including agriculture, industrial goods and services.

Agricultural Trade

The Australian Government is committed to the WTO agriculture negotiations, as this sector remains one of the most highly protected. Positive outcomes in these negotiations will be of great benefit as Australia exports around 60 per cent of its agricultural production. In the WTO agriculture negotiations, Australia's key objectives are to achieve a substantial improvement in market access; deep cuts to trade-distorting farm subsidies; and the elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies. Our active engagement in the WTO committee process, together with our involvement in WTO disputes, helps ensure that other countries are abiding by the existing trade rules for agriculture.

Australia is chair of the WTO Cairns Group coalition of 19 agricultural exporting countries. The Cairns Group brings together a diverse range of developed and developing countries from Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, and has been an influential voice in the agricultural reform debate since its formation in 1986.

Members of the Cairns Group

Australia's agricultural exports ($ billion)

Australia's agricultural exports ($ billion)
Australia's top agricultural exports(a) 2011
Rank Commodity (b) $ million % share
1 Wheat 6,076 16.3
2 Beef 4,684 12.6
3 Wool & other animal hair (incl tops) 2,837 7.6
4 Cotton 2,537 6.8
5 Meat (excl beef) 2,375 6.4
6 Wine 1,922 5.2
7 Sugars, molasses & honey 1,428 3.8
8 Barley 1,378 3.7
9 Oil-seeds & oleaginous fruits, soft 1,287 3.4
10 Milk, cream, whey & yoghurt 1,210 3.2
11 Animal feed 1,074 2.9
12 Live animals (excl seafood) 1,071 2.9
13 Vegetables 959 2.6
14 Hides & skins, raw (excl furskins) 850 2.3
15 Edible products & preparations 788 2.1
16 Wood in chips or particles 775 2.1
17 Cheese & curd 754 2.0
18 Crustaceans 683 1.8
19 Cereal preparations 640 1.7
20 Fruit & nuts 534 1.4
Total agricultural exports 37,319 100.0
  • (a) Based on the WTO definition of agriculture, which includes alcoholic beverages.
  • (b) Recorded trade basis.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database; ABS Special Data Service.

Non-Agricultural Trade

Non-agricultural trade (which includes industrial, forestry and seafood products) accounts for around 90 per cent of global trade in goods.

The Australian Government is actively involved in relevant WTO committees, such as the Technical Barriers to Trade Committee and the Import Licensing Committee, to address non-tariff barriers to trade in non-agricultural goods.

Australia is committed to playing a leadership role in launching negotiations to expand the product coverage and membership of the WTO Information Technology Agreement, in order to build on the contribution this Agreement has made to promoting trade and investment and driving innovation.

Trade Facilitation

The Australian Government is working towards the early conclusion of an ambitious WTO trade facilitation agreement. Trade facilitation negotiations are directed at expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.

Studies by the OECD, World Bank and European Union have shown there would be significant gains to world trade from a trade facilitation agreement, with the majority of these benefits accruing to developing and least developed countries.

Intellectual Property

Australia is a trading nation with a strong research tradition and a need for access to new technologies. Trade in royalties for intellectual property for Australia in 2011 was $1.1 billion (exports) and $5.2 billion (imports). The Government supports Australia's innovative industries and exporters by negotiating balanced international arrangements for the protection and use of intellectual property.

Services Trade

The Government is working hard to achieve better access for Australia's services exports. Australia is playing a leading role in promoting services trade through the WTO as well as by expanding market access for our services exports through comprehensive free trade agreements. The Government continues to look for ways to broaden existing liberalisation efforts and build on those efforts in a multilateral setting.

In particular, the Government is aiming to liberalise foreign equity caps on overseas investments, improve regulatory transparency, and make it easier for business people to pursue opportunities in foreign markets through improved business mobility.

Priority sectors include financial services, telecommunications, professional services, education, mining-related services and environmental services.

Australia is also active in promoting regulatory reform and services market access through APEC. In 2011 Australia led efforts to facilitate services trade through the APEC Accounting Services Initiative. Australia also sponsored the APEC Services Trade Access Requirements (STAR) Database. This business-friendly online resource has become a vital tool for services exporters in Australia and across the APEC region.

Australia's Services exports ($ billion)

Australia's Services exports ($ billion)

Based on ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's top minerals and fuels exports 2011
Rank Commodity(a) $ million % share
1 Iron ores & concentrates 64,107 40.4
2 Coal 46,762 29.5
3 Crude petroleum 11,451 7.2
4 Natural gas 11,084 7.0
5 Aluminium ores & conc (incl alumina) 5,443 3.4
6 Copper ores & concentrates 5,441 3.4
7 Other ores & concentrates 4,556 2.9
8 Refined petroleum 2,938 1.9
9 Confidential mineral ores 2,497 1.6
10 Nickel ores & concentrates 1,241 0.8
11 Precious metal ores & conc (excl gold) 1,194 0.8
12 Liquefied propane & butane 962 0.6
13 Non-ferrous waste & scrap 926 0.6
14 Ferrous waste & scrap 867 0.5
15 Crude minerals 271 0.2
16 Coke & semi-coke 255 0.2
17 Stone, sand & gravel 102 0.1
18 Natural abrasives 38 0.0
19 Residual petroleum products 9 0.0
20 Crude fertilisers 4 0.0
Total minerals & fuels exports(b) 158,657 100.0

(a) Recorded trade basis.

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

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's minerals and fuels exports ($ billion)

Australia's minerals and fuels exports ($ billion)

Based on ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's top manufactures exports 2011
Rank Commodity(a) $ million % share
1 Aluminium 4,656 11.2
2 Copper 3,853 9.2
3 Medicaments (incl veterinary) 3,278 7.9
4 Passenger motor vehicles 1,352 3.2
5 Aircraft, spacecraft & parts 1,099 2.6
6 Measuring & analysing instruments 993 2.4
7 Zinc 968 2.3
8 Lead 929 2.2
9 Medical instruments (incl veterinary) 908 2.2
10 Telecom equipment & parts 892 2.1
11 Civil engineering equipment & parts 858 2.1
12 Specialised machinery & parts 812 1.9
13 Uncoated flat-rolled iron & steel 775 1.9
14 Pigments, paints & varnishes 757 1.8
15 Vehicle parts & accessories 732 1.8
16 Paper & paperboard 685 1.6
17 Nickel 647 1.6
18 Jewellery 615 1.5
19 Misc manufactured articles 613 1.5
20 Computer parts & accessories 608 1.5
Total manufactures exports(b) 41,663 100.0
  • (a) Recorded trade basis.
  • (b) Total manufactures exports on a balance of payments basis.

Based on ABS trade data on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Australia's manufactures exports ($ billion)

Australia's manufactures exports ($ billion)

Based on ABS catalogue 5302.0.

Free Trade Agreements

The Government is pursuing WTO-consistent, high-quality, comprehensive free trade agreements (FTAs) with key trading partners, where they offer net benefits to Australia and are supportive of global trade liberalisation.

Australia has concluded seven FTAs:

Australia is undertaking FTA negotiations with:

Australia's Free Trade Agreements should:

For more information on Australia's FTAs visit: www.fta.gov.au

Australia and the G20

Australia is a founding member of the Group of Twenty (G20), the premier forum for international economic cooperation. The G20 consists of 19 countries and the European Union.

The G20 played a key role in responding to the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, helping to avert a global depression. The decisive and coordinated actions of the G20 boosted consumer and business confidence and supported the first signs of economic recovery.

Recently, the focus of the G20 has shifted towards addressing new vulnerabilities to the global economy arising from the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Mexico is the current chair of the G20, and hosted the G20 Leaders' Summit in Los Cabos in June 2012.

Following Russia's host year in 2013, Australia will host the G20 in 2014. This will give Australia the opportunity to continue to pursue its agenda of restoring global economic growth and jobs, pressing for further trade liberalisation and achieving global sustainable development. Australia is committed to consulting non-G20 members so that their views are considered and G20 decisions can benefit all economies.

G20 members

G20 countries make up:

Trade with our region: APEC

As the leading economic forum in the Asia-Pacific, APEC has delivered substantial gains for businesses and consumers alike both in Australia and throughout the region. APEC is pursuing an ambitious agenda of trade liberalisation, business facilitation, and economic cooperation and technical assistance. The private sector engages closely with the APEC process, particularly through the APEC Business Advisory Council.

The Russian Federation is the current APEC host, with Indonesia to take over the role in 2013 and China in 2014.

Members of APEC

For more information on APEC: www.apec.org

The Benefits of Foreign Investment

Foreign investment has allowed Australians to enjoy higher rates of economic growth, employment and living standards than could have been achieved from domestic savings alone. This is because it:

A number of studies have examined the impact of foreign investment. In 2010 a study by Access Economics found that a 10 per cent increase in foreign investment in Australia would lead to a more than one per cent increase in GDP by 2020. An OECD study found that increasing foreign investment as a share of GDP is significantly and positively associated with productivity growth.

Trade Liberalisation and Jobs

Trade liberalisation has been at the heart of Australian Government policy for the past 30 years. Australia now has limited tariff and import restrictions on most of our traded goods sectors and low barriers to most services trade - initiatives that have bolstered the strength of our economy.

This process has opened the economy to greater volumes of trade, increasing productivity, accelerating economic growth and making the economy more flexible and dynamic. Australia's economic strength and resilience during the recent global economic turbulence was in part a result of Australia's trade liberalisation reforms.

The OECD's International Collaborative Initiative on Trade and Employment (ICITE) recently published a report on the relationship between trade and jobs. It found that trade creates jobs, increases real incomes and enhances productivity.

The ICITE determined that more liberalised economies most notably out-performed closed economies in terms of pay. Workers in the manufacturing sector of liberal economies benefitted from pay rates that were between three and nine times greater (depending on the region) than in closed economies. Besides driving wages up, trade also positively affects incomes by lowering prices of goods and services because of increased competitive pressures.

These benefits of liberalisation have occurred in Australia. A Centre for International Economics study determined that there has been an increase in real income of up to $3,900 per year for the average Australian family due to the trade liberalisation agenda since 1988. The study also found that, in Australia alone, over 2 million jobs in today's workforce are related to trade, further illustrating the importance of trade liberalisation for Australia.