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Business Envoy March 2020 Banner image

An industry and government partnership to drive services exports growth

Group photo of people in a Parliament house chamber.
Industry celebrates the release of its Action Plan to boost Australian services exports. Credit: Mark Graham.

Australia has a much more diversified economy than the ‘big quarry’ stereotype suggests. Three quarters of our GDP and four fifths of employment come from the services sector.

Yet, there is still considerable untapped potential to grow our services exports. In the past financial year, services made up just one fifth of our total exports by value.

Our services exports mostly come from two sectors: international education and tourism. Although generally consumed in Australia, these constitute key export industries.

We rightly celebrate the export successes of our resources, energy, tourism and education sectors. But boosting our services exports beyond traditional strengths is important in our evolution as a more complex exporting nation.

An industry plan to boost services exports

On 27 November 2019, senior representatives from across the services sector released the Industry Recommendations - An Action Plan to Boost Australia’s Services Exports.

To help break down barriers for Australian services exporters the Action Plan includes 44 recommendations in three pillars: addressing domestic regulatory complexity; making progress on barriers in overseas markets; and supporting firms as they internationalise.

The Government Response, released together with industry’s Action Plan, draws together the significant amount of work underway to remove ‘red tape’ export barriers, build a skilled workforce, attract investment through competitive tax settings, and connect Australian services firms to new and emerging global opportunities.

The work of DFAT – including on free trade agreements, addressing non-tariff barriers and facilitating mutual recognition agreements that provide for greater mobility of Australian professionals – is an important part of this ambitious agenda.

A new partnership between industry and government

The release of the industry’s Action Plan and the Government Response follows intensive DFAT and Austrade-led consultations with a range of services sub-sectors: financial, e-commerce and professional services, which represent the new frontier of Australian services exports.

While not all industry recommendations were agreed to, the response marks the beginning of a long-term dialogue between industry and government on services export competitiveness.

Consultations with industry are ongoing. A second tranche of consultations with the creative and health services sectors concluded in February 2020.

DFAT and Austrade are exploring options for a third tranche of sectors for consultation to begin shortly and conclude by May. This will be followed by an updated industry Action Plan and Government Response.

DFAT welcomes views and feedback from the business community and general public on opportunities and challenges for Australian services exporters. Feedback and enquiries can be emailed to: services.competitiveness@dfat.gov.au.

The Action Plan and Government Response can be found at Services Export Action Plan.

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