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Trade and investment

First Nations Trade

The Government is committed to an inclusive international trade and investment agenda that drives economic growth for all Australians, including First Nations people and communities.

This agenda aims to amplify First Nations voices, representation and participation in trade and investment, including strengthening First Nations engagement, greater coordination with government agencies, and leveraging existing trade and economic programs, agreements, and regional and multilateral frameworks.


Australia's First Nations traders are our first exporters – from trading goods with Makassan seafarers in Indonesia for generations, to now exporting native botanicals, art, design, cyber and clean energy solutions to world markets. Australia's First Nations tourism experiences across the visitor economy provide the opportunity to highlight Australia's unique visitor experience and celebrate the world's oldest living continuous cultures, both domestically and internationally. First Nations businesses are succeeding across Australia's goods and services exports.

An inclusive First Nations trade and investment agenda has the potential to deliver economic growth and economic prosperity for First Nation businesses and their communities. It also has the potential to elevate and reaffirm First Nations perspectives in climate change, sustainable development, traditional knowledge, and protecting the integrity of First Nations arts and cultural products.

In addition, First Nations exporting businesses are role models and multipliers – they are more likely to train and employ Indigenous staff and channel profits back into their communities. The value of Indigenous trade is felt back along the supply chain and into communities on-country where jobs and wealth are created. In turn, this has the potential to contribute to a broad range of Closing the Gap targets and support improved family and community wellbeing.


This work is being led by the First Nations Trade Unit, which was established in Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2023. The Unit works closely with the Ambassador for First Nations People, Mr Justin Mohamed, and the Office for First Nations International Engagement, as well as government at both State and Commonwealth levels, to embed First Nations interests and perspectives across the Government's trade and investment activities.

To support this work, the Department convenes a First Nations Trade and Investment Reference Group (Reference Group), which consists of representatives from First Nations' peak bodies, academia, First Nations chambers of commerce, and First Nations businesses across Australia. The Reference Group provides the opportunity to connect with others in the First Nations trade and investment ecosystem, voice barriers faced, engage with emerging opportunities, showcase businesses, and receive trade updates, notification of upcoming events, and advice on procurement, grant and international trade opportunities.

Interested in joining the Reference Group? Reach out to the Unit via

Pilot First Nations Trade and Investment Advisory Group

In December 2023, the government announced that it will be supporting the establishment of a pilot First Nations Trade and Investment Advisory Group (Advisory Group). The Advisory Group will make sure First Nations views are part of the right conversations, at the right times, to help deliver trade and investment benefits for First Nations people and communities.

Throughout January and February we consulted on the best way we could support a First Nations-led approach to appointing the Advisory Group members.

There was strong support for the Advisory Group to be established in such a way to both ‘join up' conversations across existing national bodies that are heavily engaged in the trade and investment agenda, while also ensuring a balance of gender, sectoral expertise and geographic representation.

The Advisory Group will be appointed through an Expression of Interest process and will:

  • be made up of a maximum of 12 individuals, all Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples with trade and/or investment expertise or lived experience
  • include balanced representation across gender, geography and sectors
  • include representation from national-scale First Nations organisations or networks involved in trade and investment policy or programs.

The inaugural Advisory Group meeting is expected to be held in August 2024 in Canberra.

Applications to join the Advisory Group are now open.

Interested candidates are encouraged to submit their applications to DFAT's First Nations Trade Unit via The Expression of Interest information, including application requirements is available below.

Applications will close 11:55PM AEST Sunday, 9 June 2024. Unfortunately, late applications will not be accepted.

Contact Us

The First Nations Trade Unit can be contacted via email at

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