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The Australian Trade and Investment Commission—Austrade—contributes to Australia's economic prosperity by helping Australian businesses, education institutions, tourism operators and governments as they develop international markets and promote international education; win productive foreign direct investment; and strengthen Australia's tourism industry. Austrade also helps Australian citizens with consular and passport services in certain locations overseas.
Austrade achieves its purposes by generating market information and insight, promoting Australian capabilities, providing policy advice, making connections through an extensive global network of contacts, leveraging the 'badge of government' offshore, and providing quality advice and services.
Austrade creates value for the business sector and operates in a way that represents a good investment for the taxpayer, and meets or exceeds all appropriate standards of ethical behaviour.
Promoting Australian trade internationally—Austrade helps Australian companies to grow their business in international markets, including through the administration of the Export Market Development Grants scheme and the TradeStart network.
Promoting Australian education internationally—Austrade promotes the Australian education and training sector in international markets and works with institutions and industry stakeholders to grow demand for Australian education and training.
Attracting foreign direct investment to Australia—Austrade provides coordinated government assistance at a national level to promote, attract and facilitate productive foreign direct investment into Australia.
Strengthening Australia's tourism industry—Austrade develops policy, manages programs and provides research to support Australia's tourism industry and to grow Australia's tourism market share.
Working across government—Austrade delivers advice to the Australian Government on its trade, tourism, international education and training, and investment policy agendas.
Promoting Australia through online channels, media and marketing—Austrade's objectives are supported by its marketing activities, including management of the nation branding program, Brand Australia, administration of Austrade's websites and business communications, as well as related market research and major events.
Delivering consular services—Austrade provides Australian consular, passport and other government services in designated overseas locations in support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's consular network.
An extensive network
At 30 June 2017, Austrade's network comprised 121 locations, including 10 offices in major Australian centres, complemented by 28 TradeStart offices, and 83 locations overseas in 49 different markets. Fifteen of the locations overseas also provided consular services in locations where the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not have a presence. In May 2017, consular and passport responsibilities for Bogota, Colombia, transferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. During the transition, Austrade continued to provide assistance with the delivery of consular services, and will continue to operate an office there.
During the year, Austrade also established Landing Pads in Shanghai, Berlin and Singapore, adding to the Landing Pads established in San Francisco and Tel Aviv in 2015–16. Landing Pads are designed to provide market-ready Australian startups with a short-term operational base in global innovation hotspots. For more information on Austrade's Landing Pads, see page 88. Austrade's Australian and overseas locations are shown in Figure 2 on pages 6–7.
Austrade was established by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission Act 1985. It is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, and a statutory agency under the Public Service Act 1999. Austrade is part of the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio.
Austrade's CEO reports to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, with the Hon Steven Ciobo MP holding the position for the duration of the reporting year.
In July 2016, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, announced the appointment of the Hon Keith Pitt MP to the position of Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Mr Pitt was sworn into the position on 19 July 2016. Up until 19 July 2016, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck held the position of Minister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment.
A professional workforce
Austrade has a highly educated, culturally diverse workforce, with a mix of private and public sector experience. A selection of staff profiles highlighting this diversity and experience are featured throughout this report.
At 30 June 2017, Austrade employed 1,095 staff, 70 per cent of whom were employed in client-focused operations in Australia and overseas. For more information on Austrade's staffing, see page 145.
In 2016–17, Austrade continued to maintain an effective financial management framework and achieved improvements in practices and processes. In the independent auditor's report, which can be found on pages 170–1, the Australian National Audit Office has provided its opinion that Austrade's 2016–17 financial statements fairly present the agency's financial position and financial performance, and are free from material misstatement.
Further analysis of Austrade's financial position is provided in the Chief Finance Officer's review on page 12, and in the financial statements in Part 4 of this report.
Maintaining high levels of service
Each year, Austrade undertakes a comprehensive Service Improvement Study to assess service delivery and identify areas for improvement in its services to Australian organisations. The study is conducted independently and results are delivered quarterly.
In 2016–17, the Service Improvement Study found 89 per cent of Austrade's clients were satisfied with their dealings with the agency during the past 12 months. This result reflects the strong client service culture that exists within Austrade. For more information, see page 60.
Austrade also conducts regular surveys of seminar and minister-led business mission participants to improve service delivery in these areas.