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Program 1.1: Promotion of Australia's export and other international economic interests

Austrade's international network

Austrade provides information, advice and services to Australian businesses, education institutions, tourism operators, governments and citizens. Across its purposes, Austrade contributes to Australia's economic prosperity through its trade promotion and investment attraction activities, promotion of Australia as an international study destination, and by connecting tourism attraction and tourism policy advice and advocacy with its wider spectrum of work.

At 30 June 2018, Austrade’s network comprised 122 physical locations, including 10 offices in major Australian centres, which are complemented by 28 TradeStart offices. Overseas, Austrade operates in 49 markets with 84 points of presence, 14 of which also provide consular services. In addition to these locations, Austrade has established Landing Pads in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Singapore and Berlin, which are in separate locations to Austrade offices.

As part of its organisational restructure during 2017–18, Austrade’s international network now consists of seven regional groupings: Americas, ASEAN and Pacific, Europe, Greater China, Middle East and Africa, North East Asia, and South Asia.


During the year, Austrade restructured its activities in the Americas, combining North and South American posts under a single leadership. This ‘pole to pole’ approach has allowed skills and knowledge to be shared more easily across the region, while maintaining a focus on market diversity and specialisation, which remains critically important to individual markets. Posts in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil now deliver a combined presence in the region that better reflects the activities of transnational clients, creating benefits for both trade and investment outcomes.

The combined economic strength of this region, which approaches one billion people, ranges from developing economies that offer significant inbound trade and education opportunities for Australia, to substantial foreign direct investment (FDI) initiatives in North America.

With the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) in Santiago in March 2018, Australia joins with Canada, Chile, Mexico and Peru in the Americas—alongside Asian partners and New Zealand—in continuing its support for free trade in the face of protectionist pressures.

In addition, the signing of the Peru–Australia Free Trade Agreement in February 2018, against the backdrop of Australia’s ongoing free trade agreement negotiations with the members of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru), will provide Australian businesses with an opportunity to expand their trade with this emerging market.

Significant FDI outcomes in the North American market included Austrade assisting Medline, the world-leading manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies, to open a major distribution centre in Western Sydney, employing up to 500 people. Austrade also worked closely with Yamaha Motor Ventures in establishing a significant global venture capital fund managed out of Australia.

In Colombia, education outcomes were strong, with over 14,000 Colombian students enrolled in Australia in 2017, a 26 per cent year-on-year improvement.1

In Brazil, Austrade facilitated close cooperation between the Australian Digital Health Agency and the Brazilian Ministry of Health on advancing digital health.

With the release of its Defence Export Strategy, the Australian Government will provide additional funding from 2018–19 to achieve greater export success for Australian defence industries. Austrade intensified its efforts to identify and build relations with potential partners in the United States in the military and law enforcement, and in defence and dual-use technology companies, working closely with the Department of Defence and other Australian Government agencies.

Business missions and exchanges

In February 2018, Austrade once again partnered with Australian Cyber Security Growth Network Limited—AustCyber—to deliver a mission of some 65 participants from 44 Australian companies to the world-leading RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco.

Austrade New York successfully sponsored the Australian Blockchain Mission to the Consensus conference in May 2018 in partnership with the Australian Digital Commerce Association, CSIRO’s Data 61 and the NSW Government.

In March 2018, Austrade partnered with Tourism Australia and Sounds Australia, under the G’Day USA banner, to participate in the South by Southwest creative and digital technology conference in Austin, Texas.

Also in March 2018, Austrade led a 25-member agtech delegation to San Francisco and the mid-west, while the first-ever Australian business mission to Ecuador took place in November 2017.

With an improving business environment and a return to growth in Chile, Austrade successfully curated Australian participation at Chile’s international mining convention, Expomin 2018, with 41 companies in attendance.

In November 2017, Austrade—in partnership with the Argentinian and Chilean governments— announced the winners of the Agtech Passport exchange program and launched the METStech Passport exchange program. These startup programs are designed to fuel the commercialisation of technology and ideas between Australia and Latin America in agriculture and mining equipment, technology and services.

ASEAN and Pacific

In 2017, Australia’s trade with ASEAN countries grew by 9 per cent compared to 2016, reaching $105 billion.

During the year, Austrade provided advice and assistance to over 1,500 Australian companies across this diverse and complex region. Exports of food and agricultural products; education and training; and equipment, technology and services for the resources sector all grew strongly.

At present, 20.5 per cent of Australian food and agricultural exports go to ASEAN. These are growing at around 7 per cent per annum, especially into large emerging middle-class markets in the region. In partnership with the Victorian Government, Horticulture Innovation Australia and industry peak bodies, Austrade has been expanding the channels to market for Australian citrus and grapes in the Philippines, not only through retail and food service, but also by organising fresh produce pop-ups at major Australian and international company sites in Manila.

Austrade works with services and technology companies to capture opportunities as markets develop in this resource-rich region. In Malaysia, the Global Value Chain program with the national oil company is opening doors for Australian exporters’ innovative solutions, services and technologies in the oil and gas sector. During 2017–18, Austrade supported Digatex, a digital asset engineering company, to connect with these opportunities. Through close Austrade engagement, Digatex undertook virtual meetings, culminating in a workshop to showcase its digital technologies, laying the groundwork for future commercial engagement.

Austrade runs programs that broaden and deepen Australia’s recruitment pool for international education. In Indonesia, Austrade ran a ‘Science Your Future’ campaign across key urban areas to increase interest in studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in Australia. Partnering with the Australian Technology Network of universities, Qantas and BlueScope Steel, the campaign linked technical skills to Australian education expertise, aiming to increase recruitment into STEM courses in Australia.

In Singapore, Austrade supported more than 22 Australian scaleups through its Landing Pad initiative, including Anatomics and CEC Systems, who were able to finalise commercial agreements in Singapore during their three months in the program. Austrade’s Landing Pad also organised an agtech ‘boot camp’ for SproutX, Australia’s largest agtech accelerator and co-working space, in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. With this support, SproutX announced the formation of an Asia Pacific Agtech Alliance, based out of Singapore.

Austrade focuses on helping Australian businesses understand and capitalise on commercial opportunities in ASEAN. In December 2017, Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched the ASEAN Now report on key trends and opportunities in the region. This publication is part of Austrade’s commitment to share our commercial insights with Australian business, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to help them successfully expand into new international markets.

In March 2018, the then Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, hosted the first ever ASEAN–Australia Special Summit in Sydney. Austrade contributed to this major government priority by helping plan, support and deliver the summit’s business program. Austrade engaged with over 300 SME delegates and 120 leading ASEAN and Australian CEOs to ensure successful summit outcomes and enhanced business connections. ASEAN and Australian CEO leaders discussed regional challenges and opportunities across six important areas: agrifood supply chain logistics; advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0; digital transformation in services; future energy supply chains; infrastructure; and aviation and tourism.

As the region develops, leading local businesses are increasingly looking to diversify through investing outside their home markets. Austrade has a small specialist team targeting and facilitating investment from the region, with economic and tourism infrastructure, food and agriculture, and resources and energy sectors attracting most interest from ASEAN investors. In 2017, Austrade supported Dutch Mill, one of Thailand’s largest manufacturers and marketers of dairy products, through site visits and introductions to both Australian government and industry representatives. The company subsequently invested in the Edith Creek milk processing factory in Tasmania, saving the factory from closure and rescuing local jobs.

The Pacific continues to be a strong market for Australian exporters. Austrade is focused on identifying new opportunities emerging in the region, particularly in tropical infrastructure in the Pacific, and oil and gas opportunities within the resources sector in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In 2017–18, Austrade assisted Bunnings to develop a Pacific strategy to supply major infrastructure projects, and Saunders International to supply bulk storage tanks to large mining projects in PNG.

The internal restructure resulting in the creation of Austrade’s ASEAN and Pacific regional grouping has also enabled regionally coordinated initiatives for 2018–19. Activity will be directed towards promoting the emerging growth sectors: medtech and digital health; cybersecurity and fintech; and smart cities and infrastructure, in addition to continuing to support growing business opportunities in core sectors of food and agriculture, resources and energy, and education and training.

Power Ledger and Thai partners launch energy trading trial in Bangkok

Perth-based blockchain developer Power Ledger has partnered with Thai renewable energy company BCPG and property developer Sansiri to launch an exciting new peer-to-peer renewable energy trading trial in Bangkok.

This first-of-its-kind project in an ASEAN country will see solar power being traded among four participating entities at Bangkok’s T77 precinct—a shopping centre, an international school, serviced apartments and a dental hospital. Rooftop solar systems with a capacity of 635 kilowatts and a co-located battery storage system are expected to provide 20 per cent of the community’s overall electricity needs.

As the world looks for cheaper, cleaner and more cost-effective sources of energy, the T77 precinct trial shows how renewable energy can be harnessed to benefit communities. End users won’t notice anything different about their power supply, but the advantages to them will be cheaper and more reliable electricity. The benefit to the environment is that the power generated will be 100 per cent carbon free.

The project was realised in collaboration with Thailand’s Metropolitan Electricity Authority, which allowed access to its network for the physical transaction of energy between participants. This initiative is not only aligned with Thailand’s Industry 4.0 ambitions, but will also position the country as a global leader in providing better, cleaner and more locally generated energy for communities.

BCPG was responsible for designing and installing the connections, meters and solar PV system, while Power Ledger provided its blockchain technology as the transactive layer across the 18 meter points to monitor energy transactions between participants, enable peer-to-peer trading, generate invoicing and evaluate the trading position of individual participants.

‘Austrade was instrumental in supporting Power Ledger’s efforts in Thailand by facilitating early-stage discussions with electricity generation and transmission authorities and through its export market development grants program,’ said David Martin, Power Ledger’s co-founder and managing director.

Power Ledger’s blockchain technology has enabled this environmentally friendly microgrid, peer-to-peer energy trading system to revolutionise the way we consume and share utilities.

On successful completion of the trial, Power Ledger and BCPG will be looking to deploy the solution across 31 new projects throughout Thailand, with total power generation capacity of 2 megawatts over a three-year period.

L–R: Bundit Sapianchai, President and Chief Executive Officer of BCPG; Uthai Uthaisangsuk, Chief Operating Officer of Sansiri; and David Martin, Managing Director and Founder of Power Ledger, in Bangkok.

L–R: Bundit Sapianchai, President and Chief Executive Officer of BCPG; Uthai Uthaisangsuk, Chief Operating Officer of Sansiri; and David Martin, Managing Director and Founder of Power Ledger, in Bangkok.


Austrade’s Europe group covers all the markets within the European Union (EU), as well as non-EU countries in Europe, Israel, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (including Russia).

Within this region, Austrade focuses on the delivery of services relating to a range of trade, investment and education programs across a total of 13 offices in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Russia, Czech Republic, Israel, Switzerland and Sweden.

The European Union includes four of the world’s largest economies and, as a whole, accounts for 16.5 per cent of global trade. The already strong relationship between Australia and the European Union will be enhanced by the successful conclusion of free trade agreement negotiations, which began in June 2018.

The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union is scheduled to take effect at the end of March 2019, with the process being completed at the end of 2020. While the future UK–EU trade relationship remains uncertain, the United Kingdom’s stated intention of leaving the EU customs union and single market will create new barriers for trade and investment between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which could give rise to shifts in commercial operations, presenting both opportunities and frictions for Australian companies.

Within the established markets of the European Union, Austrade’s principal focus of operations during 2017–18 was on the delivery of FDI flows into targeted areas of the Australian economy. During the year, a total of 49 inward investment projects were concluded, which will contribute more than $2.7 billion in FDI flows to the Australian economy, creating or safeguarding nearly 15,000 jobs.

Concluded projects involved FDI into a number of priority sectors, with the largest investment flows attracted into the agribusiness and food, resources and energy, and major infrastructure sectors. The majority of ongoing FDI projects and new activities in 2018–19 will be focused on attraction and facilitation of digital and transformative technology–focused investment.

During the year, Austrade also continued to support Australian exporters by coordinating participation in major industry conferences and exhibitions, and through targeted engagement with major customer groups across a range of industries (see case study on this page).

The Government’s defence procurement and export strategies expanded the platform for continued engagement between European prime contractors and Australian industry during the year, through commercial linkages stimulated by the awarding of more than $130 billion in major long-term contracts to European companies, including Naval Group for the Future Submarine Program, BAE Systems for the Future Frigate Program, Lürssen for the Offshore Patrol Vessels project, and Rheinmetall for the delivery of the new Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle.

Austrade worked closely with the Department of Defence, state and territory representatives, and members of the Australian defence industry to identify and connect Australian defence capability and capacity with these and other major European prime contractors and defence suppliers.

This work will continue as Austrade’s European posts play a role in the ongoing rollout of the Government’s Defence Export Strategy, with posts in the United Kingdom, France and Germany enhancing their focus and resourcing to the sector.

Beyond these markets, Austrade is also active in supporting Australian defence exporters and is providing ongoing support to more than 20 Australian exporters as they pursue opportunities associated with the $45 billion Polish defence modernisation program.

Barcelona smart cities mission

The Barcelona Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) is one of the peak global events for the smart city industry. More than 18,000 participants, 675 exhibitors, speakers, technical experts and political representatives from more than 700 cities and 120 countries attended this flagship industry event in 2017. The congress hosts world-leading innovative smart city thought leaders, and the Expo Area showcases projects and solutions to countries, cities, universities, investors and businesses from around the world.

The 2017 SCEWC was held from 14–16 November and offered Australian companies the opportunity to connect with global smart city leaders across governance, economy, society, sustainability, mobility, safety, and information and communications technology. Austrade led a mission of 26 Australian companies to the congress, and was acknowledged as a key event partner by the event organisers.

In addition to three-day access to the conference, the Austrade-led mission included exclusive networking opportunities throughout the week with major-market commercial leaders and smart city influencers, and an additional program of business activities in Barcelona.

A highlight was an event hosted by the City of Lyon, the City of Munich and Austrade and moderated by the Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand.

Elizabeth Zealand, CEO, Spot Parking; Carolyn Abela, Austrade Paris; Johanna Pitman, Program Director of BlueChilli’s CityConnect; and Rick Wylie, CEO, KeyOptions, test the Keolis–Navya fully electric, autonomous shuttle in action during the 2017 SCEWC in Barcelona.

L–R: Elizabeth Zealand, CEO, Spot Parking; Carolyn Abela, Austrade Paris; Johanna Pitman, Program Director of BlueChilli’s CityConnect; and Rick Wylie, CEO, KeyOptions, test the Keolis–Navya fully electric, autonomous shuttle in action during the 2017 SCEWC in Barcelona.

Greater China

In 2017–18, Greater China continued to provide Australian businesses with significant commercial opportunities across trade, investment, international education and the tourism sector.

Australia’s bilateral trade with mainland China reached $183 billion in 2017, an increase of 16.1 per cent over the previous year.2

Now in its third year, the China–Australia Free Trade Agreement continues to deliver outcomes for Australian exporters, with some products experiencing significant growth in volumes to the China market. For example, Australian wine exports to China reached $1.12 billion in 2017–18, an increase of 55 per cent year on year.3

Austrade’s priority sectors in China include food and beverage, agribusiness, health and medical, financial services, education, and infrastructure.

Austrade is also enabling greater collaboration in innovation and entrepreneurship, assisting startup firms to understand the China market through a program of mentoring and market entry information via the Shanghai Landing Pad.

Week-long intensive ‘boot camp’ programs are also being delivered to some of Australia’s best up-and-coming innovative firms.

In Hong Kong, Austrade is partnering with major corporates such as MTR on the Australia – Hong Kong Tech Bridge program, enabling Australian technology scaleups to embed teams into Hong Kong corporates to develop innovative solutions.

Services sector initiatives included inbound and outbound blockchain missions and the signing of cooperation agreements between Austrade and two key industry partners, the Australian Digital Commerce Association and the Blockchain Centre.

Austrade also supported health and aged care inbound missions to the AusBiotech National Conference 2017, and the Ageing Well Revolution international conference in November 2017.

Austrade continues to support the presence of Australian health and medical companies in China, such as Cochlear and CSL. Cochlear laid the foundation stone at its new research and development and manufacturing hub in Chengdu in February 2018.

Education initiatives to support returned Chinese students included careers fairs in Beijing and Shanghai, an employability forum, and the launch of the Australia China Career Success campaign by the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, the then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. The campaign leveraged China’s key social media vehicle WeChat to profile graduates of Australian institutions working in areas of future skills demand in China, such as e-commerce, data analytics and the creative industries.

Significant investment opportunities in northern Australia were showcased to 40 leading Chinese investor companies at the second Northern Australia Investment Forum in Cairns. Representatives from China made up the largest overseas delegation represented at the forum.

The signing of a landmark agreement between Austrade and the China Development Bank focused on financing infrastructure, agriculture, energy, tourism and innovation projects in northern Australia. The signing was witnessed by Mr Ciobo and China’s National Development and Reform Commission Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe.

Strong interest from the Taiwan banking sector saw Austrade assist seven Taiwanese banks to establish Australian operations. Austrade also partnered with Taiwan industry stakeholders to promote Australian vocational education and training expertise focused on tourism training.

Throughout Greater China, Austrade continued to support the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other federal and state government departments with ministerial visits, including several visits by Mr Ciobo.

Middle East and Africa

Austrade has 12 points of presence across 67 countries in the Middle East and Africa region. Although each country has its own geopolitical and economic complexions, economic growth is relatively uniform, with both the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, predicted to grow at 3.1 per cent in 2018, up from 1.8 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively in 2017.

Key trends and developments in the region that are generating opportunities for Australian business include food security and safety; transnational education; economic diversification through creating new industries and reform of underperforming industry sectors to drive sustainable economic growth and employment; and government-led economic development plans and projects, such as Expo 2020 Dubai, Saudi Vision 2030, and New Kuwait 2035.

Geopolitical developments in the Middle East and North Africa are presenting particular challenges for Australian companies, mitigated by Austrade’s assistance in key markets. The dispute between Qatar and three other Gulf Cooperation Council countries—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain— impacted on Australian companies servicing Qatar from the region, due to logistics and commercial constraints.

The US withdrawal in May 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, and its proposed sanctions on Iran, may affect Australian companies’ ability to transact with the market. Most of Australia’s trade relationship with Iran is in sectors that were not subject to previous US sanctions, such as health, education, agrifood and mining. The level of interest in this market from Australian firms and education institutions remains relatively strong, though many are seeking advice from Austrade on the potential impact of reintroduced US sanctions.

Sectoral engagement in the region is also critical to Australia’s success, with an emphasis on education, agrifood, mining, services, health and infrastructure.

The quality of Australian premium food and beverages is recognised across the region. Austrade supported Australian businesses at events such as Gulfood, and hosted the first Gourmet Australia in Africa events in Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.

Dubai is a globally significant logistics and air services hub and the key distribution hub for the broader Middle East and Africa region, which has enabled the development of the Australian premium food and beverage market in the UAE and facilitated re-export to the broader region, as well as the development of a significant Australian business presence. The importance of logistics to the UAE economy has stimulated collaboration between Australia and dnata, the world’s leading aviation ground services equipment operator. Austrade worked with dnata and an Australian consortium comprising CSIRO’s Data61, University of Technology Sydney, University of Melbourne and University of Sydney to stimulate research and development collaboration in vehicle automation and robotics, and to increase efficiencies in dnata’s operating systems and processes.

In addition to traditional international student recruitment, transnational education models such as offshore campus establishment, curriculum sharing and distance learning models are becoming increasingly important in the region. The Curtin University campus in Dubai commenced its degree programs in January 2018 and joined the existing University of Wollongong Dubai and Murdoch University campuses.

Austrade has been active in the lead-up to a number of key events to be held in 2020 that will place a spotlight on the region. The UAE is Australia’s largest trade and investment partner in the Middle East and it is investing more than US$9.4 billion to host the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, which will provide a platform to promote and showcase Australian expertise, goods and services to the world.

The Middle East is home to seven of the fifteen largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. Australia has seen a steady flow of investments into major infrastructure, hotels, resources and agriculture from sovereign wealth funds and state-owned enterprises from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. Austrade works closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, state and territory governments and other agencies to nurture and stimulate continued investment into Australia.

Austrade is working to capture the growing interest from Africa in Australia as a high-quality study destination. In April 2018, Austrade organised a Future Unlimited West Africa Education Exhibition in Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria, and Accra in Ghana. More than 20 Australian institutions were represented and engaged with over 1,000 prospective students and key stakeholders.

Preeti Rekhari Senior Investment Manager, Dubai

Preeti Rekhari, Senior Investment Manager, Dubai.

With over six years of experience in the role of Senior Investment Manager, Dubai, Preeti Rekhari has developed Austrade’s investment strategy for the Middle East and Africa region. Sovereign wealth funds and state-owned enterprises from the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries form the cornerstone of the strategy.

Besides building an informed narrative about these investors, which aids engagement at senior government levels, Preeti also works closely with the Middle East and Africa region’s General Manager, trade commissioners, and two investment managers on an expanded regional strategy for corporates, family offices and high-net-worth individuals eligible for Austrade services.

‘The most enjoyable aspect of my job is facilitating investor visits, as these showcase how Austrade works with state and territory governments, industry associations and businesses to win investment for Australia,’ Preeti said.

With a decade of experience in trade facilitation in food, ICT and financial services prior to taking on an investment role, over the past year Preeti has also spearheaded a multi-year initiative with colleagues to understand the UAE’s innovation agenda and identify opportunities for Australian clients in fintech, blockchain, agtech and medtech.

Preeti holds a Master of International Business from the University of Wollongong.

North East Asia

Austrade’s North East Asia regional grouping consists of Japan, Republic of Korea (Korea) and Mongolia. Japan and Korea represent Australia’s second- and third-largest export markets, while Japan is Australia’s second-largest investor. Both Japan and Korea are mature and dependable business partners, with a combined two-way bilateral trade value of $127 billion in 2017. 4


As Australia’s second-largest source of FDI, Japanese investment in Australia of over $219 billion continues to diversify from its traditional base of resources and energy. The majority of FDI outcomes were across the construction, infrastructure and agriculture sectors.

The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project has gathered pace, with Kawasaki Heavy Industries moving to coal-to-liquid hydrogen conversion in Victoria. The HESC pilot phase will test and demonstrate how an integrated hydrogen supply chain could operate between Australia and Japan by 2021, with the potential commercial phase around 2030.

Export successes continued across the traditional areas of food and agriculture, including growing sales of table grapes and other horticulture products. New markets were identified during the year, with Australia’s Austal signing a contract with JR Kyushu Jet Ferry to design, manufacture and deliver a $68 million, 83-metre, high-speed trimaran ferry with a 500-passenger capacity. This demonstrated Australia’s reputation for quality and innovative shipbuilding using advanced technologies.

South Korea

Australia and South Korea have a highly complementary trade relationship, reflecting the successful implementation of the Korea– Australia Free Trade Agreement, which enjoys utilisation rates above 80 per cent (by value of trade) following five rounds of tariff cuts since entry into force in 2014.

In 2017–18, Austrade assisted Cortical Dynamics to secure an international distribution agreement for its Brain Anaesthesia Response Monitor.

The agreement will see the device distributed to hospitals across Korea, where it will assist anaesthetists and intensive care staff to monitor patients under anaesthesia and to minimise the incidence of side effects.

With 90 per cent of bilateral trade being in goods, there is still plenty of scope to lift services trade. For example, during the year, Australian global fund manager IFM Investors formed a joint venture with Korean firm Samsung Asset Management to manage a global infrastructure debt fund worth $480 million. To further cultivate its Korean client base, IFM opened a Seoul office in November 2017.

The South Korean investment relationship also offers potential. While the stock of two-way investment has increased fourfold over the past decade to more than $40 billion, annual investment flows in both directions are low compared to the trading relationship. Highlights in the year included Samsung CT Corporation’s winning joint venture bid for the major M4–M5 motorway link in Sydney, due for completion in 2022. South Korean investment in new energy supply chains in Australia is set to make South Korea one of the world’s largest players in battery manufacturing and supply. POSCO, LG, Samsung and SK are also active in securing raw material supply, with POSCO taking the lead by making an $80 million direct investment in Pilbara Minerals to secure lithium. LG International and SK Innovation have closely followed, making strategic alliances with Australian mines to secure cobalt and nickel.


Austrade’s focus in Mongolia—an emerging economy dependent on resources—is on assisting Australian mining equipment, technology and services companies to provide services for the US$5.3 billion Oyu Tolgoi underground mine expansion. First production from the second stage is expected in 2020, and when fully operational the mine is expected to contribute even more to Mongolia’s GDP. Most of the 50 Australian companies with an active presence in Mongolia are contributing to the Oyu Tolgoi mine expansion through provision of professional and technical services and equipment.

South Asia

Austrade’s South Asia regional grouping covers India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Already Australia’s fourth-largest export destination, the trade and investment relationship with South Asia continues to grow and expand.


Within South Asia, India’s sheer size, growth trajectory, positive demographics, rising middle class and significant economic potential position it as the future market for Australian businesses.

In 2017–18, Austrade’s initiatives and activities in-market were focused around navigating trade headwinds, providing critical market insights, and successfully capturing commercial opportunities and outcomes for Australian businesses.

Austrade focused its work in India on the key sectors of agribusiness; education and training; innovation and technology infrastructure, especially in transport, rail and smart cities; and mining and resources, including mining equipment, technology and services. Austrade works to increase Australia’s global share of foreign direct investment from India through a focus on large Indian corporates and resource and innovation opportunities.

Some of Austrade’s key initiatives and activities in India during the year included Australia Business Week in India in 2017; the Australian Cyber Security Mission to India; Group of Eight Australian universities’ engagement with Indian universities and corporates for research collaborations; a digital schools video competition to profile Australian education; and creating linkages between the Indian dairy sector and Australian training, genetics and dairy service providers.

Austrade serviced Australian businesses through innovative delivery mechanisms that included webinars and virtual innovation showcases on the agrifood, health and renewable energy sectors to showcase the Indian market and its potential to Australian businesses, and to build engagements between Australian and Indian companies.


Pakistan, the second-largest economy in South Asia, has continued to grow as economic reform strengthens and the security situation improves. Australian commercial involvement has largely been in the commodity, agribusiness, dairy and education sectors.

Austrade focused on brand recognition and in-market delivery of education programs in Pakistan, as well as expanding exports of pulses to Pakistan and capacity development in Pakistan’s dairy sector through a dairy initiative.

Munish Sharma Trade Commissioner, Chennai

Munish Sharma, Trade Commissioner, Chennai.

Munish Sharma is based in Chennai, India, where he commenced his posting as Trade Commissioner for Southern India in January 2018.

Munish has held numerous positions with Austrade over the past 20 years, both in Australia and internationally. Prior to taking up his posting in India, he was manager of the Advisory Services and Consumer sector in Sydney. He was also the national manager for Infrastructure and ICT teams in Australia. Munish started his Austrade career in 1998 as a locally engaged Business Development Manager in Chennai, soon after we expanded our presence to Southern India.

Munish is also responsible for Austrade’s business development initiatives in smart infrastructure in South Asia, focusing on urban development and transport. Urbanisation in India, which has the world’s largest rural population, brings enormous challenges and opportunities. The Indian Government has allocated US$20 billion to improve basic services, such as water, sewerage, sanitation and housing, in 100 chosen cities. Similarly, private and public investment is being made in developing roads, airports, ports and heavy haul transport. The majority of this work will be carried out by locals firms, but significant consulting opportunities exist for Australian specialists.

Munish holds a Bachelor of Business from the University of South Australia and a Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management (UNSW). He is fluent in Hindi.

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

In Bangladesh, Austrade’s activities and initiatives during the year focused on education, food and beverages (particularly grains and processed food), agribusiness, and commodities such as cotton.

Sri Lanka is growing in economic importance in the South Asia region. The Sri Lankan Government’s Vision 2025 economic strategy, which aims to raise Sri Lanka’s per capita income to US$5,000 by 2025, is expected to be a key driver of growth. Sri Lanka is already the largest market for Australian wines in South Asia and also a significant market for premium foods and education. Austrade’s activities and initiatives in Sri Lanka have been focused on higher education, premium food and beverages, dairy, and resources.

Promoting Australian trade internationally


As the national trade and investment promotion agency, Austrade helps exporters identify and assess appropriate markets, overcome market challenges and develop their international presence. Austrade’s 2017–18 trade activity responded to, or was shaped by:

  • significant demand generated by global demographic and technological trends
  • economic, political and/or regional factors providing new market opportunities
  • Australian businesses’ competitive advantages and their capability, capacity and preparedness to internationalise.

Austrade’s global footprint, networks and connections facilitate a clear understanding of current and emerging regional and market opportunities. They allow the organisation to provide on-the-ground and strategic support to Australian businesses in responding to global trends, capturing commercial opportunities and undertaking long-term market development.

Global trade environment

After several challenging years for world trade, recent results have been more positive. Although volumes of world trade in goods and services grew by just 2.2 per cent in 2016 in what was the weakest outcome since the global financial crisis, a synchronised recovery in global economic growth contributed to a rebound in trade volumes, with growth picking up to a much stronger 5.1 per cent rate in 2017. As of July 2018, the International Monetary Fund was forecasting 4.8 per cent growth for goods and services trade volumes in 2018, followed by a predicted modest slowdown to 4.5 per cent in 2019.5

Looking further ahead, the outlook for international trade reflects a familiar mix of challenges and opportunities. On the challenging side of the ledger is what continues to be a problematic international political and policy environment for trade policy, some of which has taken the form of a trend rise in the prevalence of non-tariff barriers to trade, and some of which has shown up in an apparent decline in the international appetite for further trade liberalisation. More worryingly, at the time of writing, a series of high-profile trade disputes had also started to unfold. As well as representing an important headwind for global trade growth, these developments entail several significant risks, including an adverse demonstration effect (the danger that they encourage other economies to turn to protectionism), the possibility of existing measures triggering cascading trade disputes that would be large enough to upset world growth, and the prospect of damaging interactions within the geopolitical environment.

Another headwind for international trade is that the expansion of global value chains, previously a major driver of global trade growth, has shown signs of stalling in recent years. Many commentators see the current political environment as hostile to businesses continuing to pursue this model, while the outlook for global value chains is also being influenced by technological change that may be reducing the relative importance of international labour cost arbitrage, as well as by structural changes in the Chinese economy.

More optimistically, the decline in trade costs triggered by technological innovation continues to lower the barriers to access international markets for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, and at the same time innovation has also helped encourage the growing importance of cross-border trade in services and data. Both trends should provide important support for trade growth in the medium term, although the latter in particular raises some important measurement issues around the ability of our current trade statistics to accurately capture new modes of international exchange.

Another important stimulus to trade flows is the continued expansion of an emerging global middle class, representing a rise in global prosperity that creates an important ongoing opportunity for new market growth, particularly in emerging Asia.

Australia’s exporter community

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there were 51,992 goods exporters in Australia in 2016–17.6 The 2016–17 figures showed a modest rise of 700 in the number of exporters, following three consecutive years of increases running in the thousands. Those three years had marked a significant break with previous experience: for the seven years between 2006–07 and 2012–13, the overall exporter count had been relatively stable (although this had disguised quite a lot of churn at the smaller end of the exporter size distribution), but the latest result suggests the surge in numbers has slowed.

Exporters can broadly be classified into three groups:

  • Large (or ‘mega’) exporters generate individual export revenues of $50 million or more, and account for most of Australia’s export value. The composition of exporters within this group is relatively stable, with modest numbers of entries and exits from year to year. In 2016–17, this group comprised just 437 goods exporters, which together accounted for more than 88 per cent of the value of all goods exports that year.
  • Small to medium-sized exporters (or SMEx) generate individual export revenues between $250,000 and $50 million. This group comprised 10,462 goods exporters in 2016–17. As with large exporters, the composition of this group is relatively stable across each year, although there is more churn than in the mega-exporter category. The SMEx category accounted for about 11 per cent of goods export value in 2016–17.
  • Micro-exporters generate individual export revenues of less than $250,000 and account for the majority of Australian exporters. Despite their weight of numbers, micro-exporters account for a very low share of total exports by value, and membership of this group exhibits a large amount of churn. In 2016–17, for example, this category accounted for about 79 per cent of goods exporters (or more than 41,000 individual businesses), but generated less than 1 per cent of goods exports by value.

Australia’s exports, by composition and direction

International trade continues to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy. As of March 2018, trade in goods and services was equivalent to more than 44 per cent of nominal GDP, while the ratio of exports of goods and services to GDP stood at 22.7 per cent.7

The better global backdrop in 2017 described above was also reflected in our national trade results, as Australia saw the total value of our exports of goods and services jump by almost 15 per cent last year, reaching a total of $386.7 billion.8

Total export growth in 2017 was boosted by stronger commodity prices and higher volumes of resource exports, with exports of iron ore (up more than 17 per cent in dollar terms), coal (up 35 per cent), aluminium ores (up more than 30 per cent) and natural gas (jumping by 43 per cent) all enjoying marked increases last year.

After a good 2016, the services sector, especially the education sector, put in another decent performance in 2017, with the value of services exports up by almost 9 per cent. The value of education-related travel services rose by more than 17 per cent over the year, although personal travel services (excluding education) were almost flat, growing by just 0.4 per cent. Exports of telecommunications, computer and information services also posted another year of healthy growth in 2017, expanding by more than 11 per cent, while exports of financial services rose by more than 17 per cent.

The overall value of manufacturing exports rose by almost 3 per cent last year, while the value of exports of rural goods rebounded, growing by nearly 14 per cent.

By market, China continued to be the most important destination for Australian exports in 2017, accounting for 30 per cent of total exports, and experiencing an increase in export values of more than 21 per cent. Other key markets to see large export growth included Japan (our second-largest export market with a 12 per cent share, and with exports up nearly 23 per cent in dollar terms), India (up almost 33 per cent), Hong Kong (up 17 per cent) and Korea (up more than 14 per cent). Exports to ASEAN were up by almost 14 per cent in value terms, with very rapid growth to Thailand and Vietnam in particular.

After dramatic growth in 2016 (when exports surged thanks to a strong increase in the value of gold exports), exports to the United Kingdom dropped by more than 25 per cent last year, which in turn contributed to a drop in overall exports to the European Union by 9 per cent.

Figure 8: Australia’s top 15 exports of goods and services, 2017

Figure 8: Australia’s top 15 exports of goods and services, 2017

(a) Includes student expenditure on tuition fees and living expenses.
(b) Fresh, chilled or frozen.
Source: DFAT and Austrade.

Figure 9: Australia’s top 15 export destinations for goods and services, 2017

Figure 9: Australia’s top 15 export destinations for goods and services, 2017

Source: DFAT and Austrade.

Australia’s internationally active businesses

Australia’s International Business Survey (AIBS) is the largest undertaking of its kind in Australia, capturing current conditions and future outlooks of internationally engaged businesses in Australia. The survey is conducted by the Export Council of Australia with the support of Austrade and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation.

This year’s survey was implemented by market research company AMR between April and May 2018, and it captured responses from 629 internationally active businesses drawn from 19 industry sectors operating across more than 92 international markets.

Consistent with the results of previous surveys, AIBS 2018 presents a diversified and well-experienced business community involved in a diverse range of international activities (Figure 10). Eighty-two per cent of respondents earned international revenue from more than one country, with 30 per cent earning revenue from more than 11 countries. The top markets for international revenue for respondents were the were the United States, China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

Respondents had a very positive outlook for their businesses going forward (66 per cent said their future outlook was better than the previous two years), with 72 per cent planning to increase employee headcount by an average of 41 per cent.

AIBS 2018 captures the views of internationally experienced small and medium-sized enterprises. About 74 per cent of survey respondents had fewer than 40 employees, while 46 per cent have been earning international revenues for a decade or longer.

AIBS 2018 also surveyed companies not currently engaged in international activities. The main reasons for not engaging in international activities were a focus on domestic scalability (36 per cent), followed by lack of international leads or contacts (32 per cent).

More information about AIBS 2018 is available from the Austrade website at

Figure 10: International activities of AIBS 2018 respondents

Figure 10: International activities of AIBS 2018 respondents

How Austrade works with Australian businesses

Connecting Australian exporters and opportunities

Austrade provides exporters with relevant and commercially useful information and advice, and access to its in-market networks, including decision-makers, international customers and relevant contacts. These services help exporters deal with the language, culture, business practice and regulatory barriers to international expansion, reducing the time, cost and risk of doing business overseas. Clients are supported by onshore and offshore teams and through partnerships with stakeholders.

In 2017–18, Austrade provided 12,017 general and tailored services to 4,803 Australian organisations to help them access opportunities overseas. Austrade also provides quality referrals to third-party professionals and business service providers when they are better placed to assist Australian organisations with a specific need. In 2017–18, Austrade provided 596 referrals to 466 Australian organisations.

Austrade’s First-Tier Services team triages enquiries, and provides practical advice to help Australian companies assess their international readiness, and to guide them through their options as they pursue international markets for their products and services. In 2017–18, the team delivered export advice through 10,177 emails and 3,760 phone calls. This led to 210 new client contacts and 340 internal referrals for further assistance to Austrade’s global network.

Austrade's Advisory Services and Consumer team provides practical advice to help Australian companies assess their international readiness, and to guide them through their options as they pursue international markets for their products and services. In 2016–17, the Advisory Services and Consumer team delivered export advice through 9,669 emails and 4,652 phone calls. This led to 303 new client contacts and 463 internal referrals for further assistance to Austrade's global network.

Challenge: Strengthen export pathways and identify alternative markets

The international business landscape continues to change rapidly, driven by global megatrends. This provides opportunities for Australia to strengthen export pathways and identify alternative markets, including trade in services.

A growing and ageing global population is delivering healthcare opportunities in established markets. The Austrade-led Australian Life Sciences Mission to the United States in June 2018 connected Australian data analytics and clinical research capability, pharmaceutical and surgical technologies expertise, and broader medtech innovation to the US healthcare and biotech ecosystems in Boston, Philadelphia and Houston.

Growing global emphasis on environmental protection and social licence to operate, particularly in the mining community, provided Australian businesses with opportunities to showcase their world-class environmental technologies and standards, and education and training capabilities. Austrade has delivered to Colombia’s largest mine, Cerrejón Mine, productivity and operational efficiency gains through Australian technology solutions that include assisting with better utilisation and maintenance of its mining equipment. The mine has also drawn on Australian expertise in blasting improvement technologies, water and dust management equipment, and road resurfacing programs.

Austrade’s advice and in-market support in a changing economic landscape has never been more valuable.

Linking Australian and international ecosystems

Austrade sees significant opportunities to further develop strong innovation connections at many levels that link the Australian innovation ecosystem with other ecosystems to deliver long-term, sustainable and high-value results for the Australian economy.

Austrade’s Landing Pad program presence in five global innovation hub locations provides a cost-effective in-market option for high-potential startups and scaleups.

In March 2018, Austrade led a trade and investment mission to the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco, followed by a side visit to Chicago. The five-day mission showcased Australia’s agtech ecosystem and solutions to increase the productivity, sustainability and value of agricultural production. A broad range of engagements and activities included a CSIRO-sponsored Australian innovation breakfast, which brought together Australian businesses and an audience of potential investors, strategic partners and customers.

Achieving outcomes in global value chains

The January 2018 release of the Australian Government’s Defence Export Strategy presents substantial opportunities for Australian companies to enter international global value chains. The strategy will drive a more globally competitive, innovative and productive Australian defence industry and aims for Australia to become a top-tier defence exporting nation within the next decade.

Austrade contributed significantly to the strategy development and will continue to assist the growth of the Australian defence industry export sector, in accordance with Australia’s stringent export control requirements.

The signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Defence in May 2018 formalises Austrade’s partnership responsibilities, including:

  • supporting Defence’s procurement programs, Team Defence Australia activities and the global supply chain programs
  • sourcing commercial opportunities for Australian defence businesses across more diverse geographies and end-use industries
  • supporting the identification of capabilities from non-defence sectors, which may provide fundamental input to sovereign defence capability
  • supporting the efforts of prime contractors and their major suppliers to invest in Australia and establish operations, which will allow these investors to support key defence contracts, and other related commercial sectors
  • funding and collaborative staff arrangements to support these activities.

Delivering Austrade’s component of the agreement, including the appointment of defence business development managers in some Austrade posts, will be a key focus of 2018–19 export activity for the Advanced Manufacturing and Defence team.

In February 2018, Austrade led a delegation of 37 Australian aerospace and defence exporters to the Singapore Airshow, Asia’s largest aerospace and defence exhibition. The three-day program connected global aerospace buyers and sellers with key commercial, government and military delegations from more than 20 countries.

A networking reception introduced Australian businesses with 130 aviation and defence industry representatives from the region. Delegates met with Frost & Sullivan, ST Engineering, the Association of Aerospace Industries, and representatives from Lockheed Martin, and visited Hawker Pacific’s aviation and logistics facility.

The mission enhanced the strong relationship between Australia and the region’s aviation and defence sectors, continued to build business connections, and showcased Australian expertise to potential clients in the region.

Gavin Loo ASEAN Trade and Investment Analyst, Singapore

Gavin Loo, ASEAN Trade and Investment Analyst, Singapore.

Gavin Loo, in his role as ASEAN Trade and Investment Analyst based in Singapore, contributes to Austrade’s trade and investment efforts in the region by preparing research and analysis reports. He has worked on various publications, such as ASEAN Now and other insight reports.

Gavin has been with Austrade since the beginning of 2016, joining the Singapore post as an ASEAN investment analyst. Since then, his role has expanded to include trade as well.

He has over six years of investment banking and corporate finance experience across Europe and Asia with PwC, EY and ING Bank. Prior to joining Austrade, he was at a family office helping to source and execute investments for a venture capital fund. In addition, he was also running the research for an in-house global macro hedge fund.

Gavin holds a Bachelor of Banking, Finance and Management from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom.

Optimising the client experience

In March 2018, the Client Experience team was established to deliver Austrade’s transformation priorities focused on strengthening client service delivery. The new team adopted agile and human-centred design techniques to deliver two priorities identified in Austrade’s transformation plan.

The team began mapping Austrade’s existing services and identified the major client groups that used these services: Australian businesses that export or seek to export, foreign businesses that buy or seek to buy goods or services from Australia, and foreign businesses that invest or seek to invest in Australia.

Over the course of several workshops, the team identified four major drivers that clients appeared to value most when growing their business internationally: networks, information, finance and advice. The team then collected and analysed service and client satisfaction data from across the organisation to support this hypothesis.

Austrade seeks to understand what clients value so it can design and implement services that maximise Austrade’s value-add and optimise clients’ experiences. In June 2018, the design team conducted its first wave of research with Australian exporters, comprising both clients and non-clients. Findings from the research were used to develop exporter ‘personas’ and ‘journey maps’ that identified ‘pain points’ and opportunities for exporters as they internationalise their business.

The first tranche of offshore research will take place in the United States and Malaysia in August 2018.

Based on the findings from the above projects, a roadmap will be developed to improve current services and design new offerings, helping to set the course for the next 18 months.

The Client Experience team synthesises research on what Austrade’s clients want.

The Client Experience team synthesises research on what Austrade’s clients want.

Facilitating business missions and events

Austrade develops targeted trade missions and uses ministerial overseas engagements to promote Australia’s capabilities, and introduce and match Australian companies where market opportunities align.

During 2017–18, Austrade extended its activity to a number of emerging opportunities and subsectors.

Austrade’s Australian Cyber Security Mission to India took place in November 2017. The five-day mission showcased Australian cybersecurity capability, profiling eight Australian organisations to large Indian multinational technology integrators and finance customers. The mission, led by Austrade, was the second to profile Australian capabilities in this emerging space.

In November 2017, Austrade organised the inaugural Beauty Products Mission to coincide with the region’s leading cosmetics show, Cosmoprof Asia.

Australia had one of the largest country pavilions with over 50 Australian exhibitors at Asia’s annual leading beauty trade show in Hong Kong. Austrade organised a number of activities for Australian skincare, cosmetic and beauty brands, and for visitors and regional buyers.

Maximising attendance at the event, Austrade hosted the first Australian Beauty Product Showcase, which enabled business engagement between 12 Australian exporters and approximately 70 buyers from across Asia. Austrade also facilitated one-on-one meetings between participating clients and buyers. Through rigorous client profiling and onshore and offshore collaboration, Austrade successfully delivered a program where Australian business solutions were matched with international beauty product demand.

In June 2018, the inaugural Austrade Fintech Masterclass—managed by Austrade’s Services and Technology team—saw Austrade and NSW Trade & Investment colleagues meet in Sydney to learn about Australia’s vibrant and rapidly expanding financial services and fintech ecosystem.

The masterclass provided participants with fintech insights, and information on key trends and forecasts, as well as introductions to Sydney’s key fintech entities through meetings, site visits and presentations at the Sydney Startup Hub.

In support of the masterclass, an ‘office hours’ session took place at independent fintech hub, Stone & Chalk, which provided opportunities for offshore colleagues to meet companies interested in internationalising. The masterclass learnings, coupled with engagement and exposure to important sector contacts, will assist with promoting Australian fintech capability offshore in the future.

Jack Lu E-Commerce Trade Advisor, Sydney

Jack Lu. E-Commerce Trade Advisor, Sydney

Jack Lu has over five years of experience in China cross-border e-commerce since China’s first free trade zone in Shanghai was established.

Jack has been working on the development of Austrade’s global e-commerce strategy. He played a major part in the development of Austrade’s guide to online exporting, which provides Australian exporters an overview of the ecosystem of cross-border e-commerce.

Jack also works with Austrade’s offshore network in Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea to facilitate market entry through e-commerce. He has a passion for helping Australian companies get started in exporting, and assisting brands of all sizes to use online channels to reach overseas customers who they may not be able to reach through a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ presence.

Jack holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Finance from the University of Melbourne.

Highlighting Australia's export capabilities

To promote expertise and capability to identified prospective overseas buyers, Austrade has developed industry capability reports (ICRs) that highlight Australia’s core strengths in priority industry sectors and subsectors.

Informed by trends observed in other markets, such as growing tourism numbers to Japan, and in response to more countries investing in tourism infrastructure, Austrade prepared an ICR outlining Australian expertise in developing tourism destinations. The ICR identified a sophisticated cluster of Australian businesses with world-leading expertise in tourism destinations planning, and delivering tourism-related products and training services. These entities are well positioned to actively deliver all aspects of destination management and development planning around the world.

The Australian Future and Mobility Transport Report, produced in collaboration with the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities and industry associations, provides an overview of Australia’s future transport and mobility industry, focusing on intelligent transport systems, continuous and autonomous vehicles, and the mobility-as-a-service subsector.

Examples of other reports developed and launched during 2017–18 include:

  • an Australian disruptive technologies ICR, identifying Australian export capability and technology solutions in additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, automation, big data and analytics, blockchain, cloud and cybersecurity
  • an education technology (edtech) ICR, identifying Australia as a highly regarded supplier of edtech and innovative solutions, with Australian companies offering education delivery via alternative user interfaces and teaching platforms
  • a clinical trials ICR that highlights Australia as a leading destination for clinical research of new therapeutic products and medical devices.

Connecting Australia through e-commerce

To supplement overseas market–focused e-commerce guides, Austrade launched its Guide to Online Exporting to help exporters understand the business models available to use e-commerce as a market entry channel. The guide is delivered on Austrade’s website and is regularly updated with new information as the rapidly changing online environment evolves.

Austrade also conducted ongoing research and produced written guides for a range of markets in Asia. In 2017–18, as part of Austrade’s strategic collaboration agreement, Alibaba launched a dedicated channel on their video-sharing platform to promote Australian products. In addition to developing relationships with major online platforms in China, Austrade began discussions with platforms in other markets, with a focus on Southeast Asia, to understand their operating models and educate Australian exporters on opportunities and direct-to-consumer supply chains.

Project approvals under section 23AF of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936

Supporting the work of the Australian Taxation Office, Austrade has the delegation to determine approved project status under section 23AF of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. This allows individuals who worked overseas on an approved project, for a continuous period of at least 91 days, to be exempt from Australian income tax. While Austrade approves project applications, the granting of the exemption rests with the Australian Taxation Office.

This exemption typically applies to projects in countries where individuals do not pay income tax, or where income tax is not levied on foreign workers because the project is funded by an international development agency (such as the World Bank). It can enhance the competitiveness of international tender bids by Australian organisations, as well as strengthen Australian companies’ capabilities, broaden employees’ skills, and raise the international profile of Australian industry.

In 2017–18, Austrade granted 37 new approvals in response to 57 applications from 18 applicants (20 applications were under assessment as at 30 June). This compares to 82 approvals, 83 applications and 21 applicants in 2016–17.

Approved projects were located in the following regions:

  • Middle East—10 (17 per cent)
  • Indo-Pacific—16 (28 per cent)
  • Africa—7 (12 per cent)
  • Americas—1 (2 per cent)
  • Central Asia—3 (5 per cent).

In 2017–18, 13 approved projects (35 per cent) were commercially funded, while the remaining 24 (65 per cent) were funded by international development agencies.

ECO.’s e-commerce strategy delivers export success

Based on the Gold Coast, Queensland, ECO. Modern Essentials is a wellbeing brand with a multi-strategy approach. The health and wellness company produces a wide range of oil-based aromatherapy products. According to founder and chief executive Claire Mitchell, a mixed e-commerce export strategy has been part of the company’s growth plan from day one.

‘We export to 14 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia,’ said Claire. ‘We have just 20 full-time employees so this is a major achievement. Our export success is due to flexibility: sometimes we use distributors; sometimes we sell direct to the consumer online. We pick the e-commerce strategy to suit the market.’

But one market proved not so straightforward. In 2016, ECO. exhibited in the Australian pavilion at Cosmoprof Asia in Hong Kong. Claire saw that being Australian-made was a potential source of competitive advantage in China, but there were big barriers.

‘To succeed in China, we needed a partner‒ distributor who understood our brand, industry and product registrations,’ she said. ‘But to find a partner, we had to show we were serious. For us, this meant building an online presence in China and learning to connect with customers. Our strategy was to engage with multiple online and e-commerce platforms until we found the ideal partner.’

The breakthrough came in November 2017. Claire attended an e-commerce trade show in Melbourne hosted by Alibaba and met three distributors. One of the distributors is proving instrumental in gaining access to the Chinese e-commerce site, Tmall, which along with Taobao is part of the Alibaba Group.

For Claire, the partner–distributor route to market is essential because of the highly complicated way that cross-border e-commerce in China works. Today, this distributor markets ECO. products, purchases the stock and monitors the click-throughs. The partner also targets niche apps, and direct marketing companies, which are growing ECO.’s sales.

Claire says the key to ECO.’s export growth is the flexibility to adapt to each market, and the willingness to use e-commerce analytics to build customer connections.

‘The help we get from TradeStart and Austrade is phenomenal,’ she said. ‘TradeStart and Austrade experts have great contacts in e-commerce who have helped us find the best e-commerce platforms for our business. We always benefit from their excellent tradeshow pavilions. Their help has been crucial to our success.’

Claire Mitchell of ECO. (second from left) provides a hands-on experience for potential customers to understand the brand’s aromatherapy products

Claire Mitchell of ECO. (second from left) provides a hands-on experience for potential customers to understand the brand’s aromatherapy products.

Austrade's TradeStart network

With a focus on regional Australia, Austrade’s network of 28 TradeStart offices broadens the reach of the agency’s trade promotion services.

The network is jointly delivered by state, territory and local governments, industry associations and chambers of commerce, with each partner carefully selected through a tender process. The planned tender process for 2017–18 was moved to 2018–19 in order to ensure TradeStart aligns with any changes resulting from Austrade’s transformation process.

In addition to delivering Austrade services via a local adviser who can help exporters navigate overseas markets, and provide direct access to Austrade’s overseas network, each TradeStart partner organisation offers complementary assistance for exporters. TradeStart exemplifies the partnering model Austrade is currently embracing.

Rob Harrison TradeStart Adviser, Tamworth

Rob Harrison, TradeStart Adviser, Tamworth.

Rob Harrison is a TradeStart Adviser based in Tamworth, working for the NSW Department of Industry and providing export support to local businesses in the New England – North West region of New South Wales through Austrade’s TradeStart network.

The New England – North West region has a premium agribusiness economy with a focus on beef, grains, cotton and wool. There is also mining, an emerging renewable energy sector, and the recently created New England Agtech Cluster in Armidale that is backed by the NSW Government and the University of New England.

Prior to joining TradeStart four years ago, Rob spent 20 years working in the Scottish wool industry, exporting luxury garments, accessories and fabrics to over 30 countries. He was concurrently a director of the industry peak body in the United Kingdom, the National Wool Textile Export Corporation. After migrating to Australia in 2005, he spent four years as Export Manager for Sydney-based confectionery company Darrell Lea before moving to Tamworth to take up the role of Executive Director at Tamworth Regional Development Corporation.

Rob delivers the NSW Government’s Export Capability Building Program across the region through a series of workshops and other activities to help companies become export ready, thus creating a continuous pipeline of new Austrade clients.

Rob holds a degree in Economics from University College London.

Delivering valued service

Each year, Austrade undertakes a comprehensive Service Improvement Study to evaluate service delivery and identify areas to improve. The study is conducted independently and results are delivered quarterly. A brief follow-up survey is also conducted to measure the ongoing benefit of Austrade services, including commercial outcomes achieved 12 months after an interaction with Austrade.

Figure 11 shows clients’ ratings of Austrade’s services over the past five years.

Figure 11: Client ratings of Austrade’s services, 2013–14 to 2017–18

Figure 11: Client ratings of Austrade’s services, 2013–14 to 2017–18

Note: Due to rounding, totals may not add up to 100 per cent. Figures for the Service Improvement Study are collected quarterly over the financial year and released annually.

In Austrade’s 2015–16 and 2016–17 annual reports, the figures for the sample size (n) for 2013–14 and 2014–15 were erroneously provided as 1,380 and 1,012, respectively.


In 2017–18, Austrade’s Service Improvement Study found that 89 per cent of its clients were satisfied with their recent dealings with Austrade, consistent with 2016–17. Austrade’s net promoter score is +43, up from +40 in 2016–17. These results show that our clients continue to show a high level of satisfaction with the services they receive from Austrade.

The survey also collected detailed feedback on Austrade’s performance, including the following results:

  • 87 per cent of all clients said they expected to achieve a commercial outcome as a result of working with Austrade.
  • 85 per cent of all clients confirmed commercial outcomes were achieved within 12 months of working with Austrade (the figure was 84 per cent for the subgroup of exporting clients).
  • 77 per cent of all clients rated the contribution that Austrade made to their international business activities over the past 12 months as either positive, significant or critical (the figure was 75 per cent for the subgroup of exporting clients).
  • 88 per cent of clients said engaging the services of Austrade was a very big, big, or of some advantage for their business.
  • 76 per cent of all clients who were charged for Austrade services thought the services represented value for money.

Australia Business Week in India took place in August and September 2017 and was evaluated through an independently run survey. Participants’ overall satisfaction with the mission was very high, with 96 per cent rating Austrade positively, 84 per cent expecting to achieve a commercial outcome from the mission, and 98 per cent rating that it was an advantage for their organisation to participate. For more information on the business mission, see pages 68–69.

In addition to formal surveys, Austrade closely monitors compliments and complaints received from clients and other stakeholders. In 2017–18, Austrade received nine formal complaints about its services (compared to 17 in 2016–17). A complaints handling procedure ensures all complaints are addressed by the relevant area or raised with senior management in Australia for timely resolution.

A capability training program highlighting advanced features of Austrade’s client management system has resulted in efficiency gains and is expected to improve data quality. This has enabled improved insight into our engagement with clients, in turn allowing Austrade to provide more strategic services.

In response to an internal audit review of Austrade’s eligibility processes for client services in 2017–18, training and guidance was provided to staff to reinforce business processes and increase consistency.

Austrade’s Service Charter can be found on and also at Appendix B.


of all clients were satisfied with Austrade's services in the past year


of all clients rated Austrade’s paid services as good value for money


of clients said Austrade made a positive contribution to their business


of all clients achieved a commercial outcome within 12 months of working with Austrade

Promoting Australia through online channels, media and marketing

Austrade promotes Australian capability to international customers and the attractiveness of Australia as a destination for international study, foreign investment and tourism through a number of marketing, online and media channels. This work underpins Austrade’s value to Australian businesses, international investors, and the education and tourism sectors.

Austrade online

Austrade uses two primary websites, and, to meet our various audience content and service needs.

Austrade’s corporate website,, is primarily for international business audiences. These audiences include Australian exporters and businesses looking to export (including those within the education and tourism sectors), offshore organisations looking to buy Australian products and services, or businesses seeking inward investment opportunities in Australia.

In 2017–18, there were 2,107,973 visits to, resulting in 5,605,759 page views.

Approximately 40 per cent of traffic to the Austrade website came from overseas users seeking information about Australian organisations, their products and services, or inward investment opportunities. Of the overseas users, most visits are from the United States, Japan, India and China. The majority (70 per cent) of visits to come via organic search, with an increasing amount of traffic referred by electronic direct mail and social media activity.

During 2017–18, 73 per cent of user sessions on the Austrade website were via desktop, 20 per cent via mobile devices, and 7 per cent via tablet devices. The segment of users accessing the website via mobile and tablet devices increased by 2 per cent compared to 2016–17.

The Study in Australia website,, is the official Australian Government source of information for international students. The website received over 2.5 million visits in 2017–18, with around 79 per cent visiting from countries outside of Australia. The largest overseas audiences to the website were from Indonesia, India, Indonesia, the United States and Thailand. Forty-eight per cent of all traffic to the website was from a mobile or tablet device, with the remaining via desktop.

Consistent with the Digital Transformation Agency’s standard, all of Austrade’s major online design and architecture projects are designing for ‘mobile first’.


Austrade’s media team provides media materials, advice and services to the agency’s executives, Australian and international networks and government ministers. Its output includes media releases, insights from experts, speeches and other writing, as well as issues management.

In 2017–18, Austrade provided media support for international visits by the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, the then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and other ministers. It prepared speeches, remarks and media releases for business missions such as Australia Business Week in India, the Australian Cyber Security Mission to the United States, and the blockchain industry delegation to Consensus 2018 in New York.

Austrade’s media team also provided support to the free trade agreement outreach program, Tourism Research Australia, Landing Pads, the Australian Export Awards, the Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting, and the Tourism Ministers Meeting.

Social media

Austrade increasingly uses social media to engage with international and domestic audiences and distribute information about Australian capabilities, strengthening the impact of traditional promotional activities like trade missions and events. Social media is particularly useful during minister-led business missions to create a visual narrative by sharing images, key messages and market information, both in Australia and internationally.

In 2017–18, social media content was delivered via 16 Twitter accounts, two LinkedIn company pages, four Facebook pages, three YouTube channels, and two Weibo and two WeChat accounts.

These Austrade-owned channels garnered a social media following of over 544,124 followers, up 12 per cent from the previous year. Collectively, these accounts generated 7,464 posts, amassing 89,950,199 impressions, 289,692 engagements and 45,941 link clicks.

impressions generated on

linkedin logo

new followers of Austrade
Facebook accounts

facebook logo

readers of the highest performing
WeChat post

wechat logo

Brand Australia program

Launched in 2010 as Australia’s nation brand, Australia Unlimited has evolved to become a coordinated, content-led approach to promoting Australia’s competitiveness internationally. Australia Unlimited presents a confident, contemporary and consistent representation of Australia’s strong capabilities across eight areas: business, culture, design, environment, food, science, society and technology.

In 2017–18, 80 new stories profiling Australians and Australian achievements were published under a Creative Commons licence on a number of digital platforms, including both the Australia Unlimited website ( and Austrade website (, as well as Austrade’s social media accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Australia Unlimited content is also used by a number of government agencies active in promoting Australia internationally, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Tourism Australia; the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; and CSIRO.

Feature article highlights included CSIRO researcher Dr Dong Han Seo, who has invented a water filter made from graphene that transforms contaminated water into safe drinking water; world-leading ‘techno-anthropologist’ Genevieve Bell, who is creating an entirely new academic discipline to guide us through this age of data and technology; and designer Brodie Neill, who makes award-winning furniture using millions of fragments of ocean plastic waste.

Total sessions on the Australia Unlimited website over 2017–18 were 364,726, up 90 per cent from the previous year. Much of this increase was due to paid and organic social media activity in overseas markets such as China, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and the United States. These campaigns also attributed to a 15 per cent increase in social media followers to a total of 27,433.

One of the most successful campaigns in 2017–18, running from late January to early February 2018, profiled Australian diaspora in India and Indonesia. The articles were promoted on Twitter, LinkedIn and through a paid Facebook campaign which increased monthly visitors to the Australia Unlimited website by 1,800 per cent.

The Australia Unlimited campaign featured Australian innovation such as ‘bees with backpacks’—bees with micro-sensors to help solve the global honey bee decline.
Photo: Dr Georgia Venturieri, Embrapa/CSIRO.

The Australia Unlimited campaign featured Australian innovation such as ‘bees with backpacks’—bees with micro-sensors to help solve the global honey bee decline. Photo: Dr Georgia Venturieri, Embrapa/CSIRO.

Reinvigorating Australia’s nation brand

In November 2017, as an initiative of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, the Government announced a commitment to developing a stronger nation brand to better position Australia and enhance our global competitiveness. The new brand will reinforce Australia’s reputation as a trusted exporter of premium-quality goods and services, an internationally competitive investment destination, a great place to visit, and a quality provider of education. Austrade has been tasked with delivering this industry-led, government-enabled initiative, on behalf of the whole of government.

In June 2018, Mr Ciobo announced the formation of Australia’s Nation Brand Advisory Council. Chaired by Mr Andrew Forrest AO, non-executive chairman of the Fortescue Metals Group, the council includes Australian business leaders from a cross-section of some of the country’s most iconic businesses, technology firms and arts institutions. The council will lead the strategic direction of Australia’s nation brand, helping forge a stronger and more unified image of Australia overseas.

Representatives from a wide range of industries were invited to have their say about how the nation can improve its global brand via a series of industry forums in all capital cities and online via a digital engagement platform.

The development of Australia’s nation brand will continue in 2018–19 with the appointment of a creative agency and domestic and international market research.

The anticipated launch date is early 2019.

Members of the Nation Brand Advisory Council.

Members of the Nation Brand Advisory Council. L–R (back): Michael O’Keeffe, CEO, Aesop; Bob East, Chairman, Tourism Australia; and Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder and co-CEO, Atlassian. L–R (front): Glenn Cooper, Chairman, Coopers Brewery; Wesley Enoch, Sydney Festival Artistic Director; Stephanie Fahey, CEO, Austrade; Andrew Forrest AO, nonexecutive Chairman, Fortescue Metals Group; Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas; and Christine Holgate, CEO, Australia Post. Absent: Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO, a2 Milk Company; Rod Jones, former Group CEO, Navitas; and Edwina McCann, Board Director, Australian Fashion Council, and Editor in Chief,Vogue Australia.

Australian Export Awards

The 55th Australian Export Awards, held in Canberra at Parliament House in December 2017, were attended by 450 industry and government representatives.

The Hon Steven Ciobo MP, the then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, hosted the awards ceremony, where 77 finalists were recognised for their international business success. The national finalists progressed as winners from the eight state and territory export award programs, having generated more than $3.9 billion in export sales in 2016–17 and provided employment for more than 31,000 staff.

Ego Pharmaceuticals, a family-owned dermatological products maker, was selected from the 12 national category winners to be named the Australian Exporter of the Year. NEC Australia was also recognised for its contribution to the Australian economy, receiving the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment’s Investment Award.

Preceding the ceremony, the national finalists participated in a morning masterclass, where Dr Michael Rosemann, Executive Director of Corporate Engagement at Queensland University of Technology, delivered a presentation on developing a digital mindset and how disruptive technologies will change the way Australian exporters do business. Tarah Barzanji, Principal, AlphaBeta; Gavin Smith, President, Robert Bosch (Australia); and John Stanton, Chair, IoT Alliance Australia, joined Dr Rosemann in a panel discussion facilitated by ThinkPlace’s Chief Innovation Officer, David Ireland.

DThe 55th Australian Export Awards program was presented by Austrade and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We thank our sponsors for their support and acknowledge the work of the following state and territory export award programs, which underpin these national awards:

  • ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards—delivered by the Canberra Business Chamber on behalf of the Australian Capital Territory Government
  • Premier’s NSW Export Awards—delivered by the Export Council of Australia on behalf of the New South Wales Government
  • Chief Minister’s Northern Territory Export and Industry Awards—delivered by the Chamber of Commerce Northern Territory on behalf of the Northern Territory Government
  • Premier of Queensland Export Awards— delivered by the Export Council of Australia on behalf of Trade & Investment Queensland
  • Business SA Export Awards—delivered by Business SA
  • Tasmanian Export Awards—delivered by the Department of State Growth
  • Governor of Victoria Export Awards—delivered by Trade Victoria
  • Western Australian Industry and Export Awards—delivered by the Export Council of Australia on behalf of the Western Australian Government.

The 55th Australian Export Awards winners

Australian Exporter of the Year Award Ego Pharmaceuticals (VIC)

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment’s Investment Award NEC Australia (VIC)

Agribusiness Award Yumbah Aquaculture (VIC)

Business Services Award Linear Clinical Research (WA)

Creative Industries Award Envato (VIC)

Digital Technologies Award Opmantek Software (QLD)

eCommerce Award aussieBum (NSW)

Education and Training Award Deakin University (VIC)

Environmental Solutions Award SRA Information Technology (NT)

Health and Biotechnology Award Leica Biosystems (VIC)

Manufacturing Award Ego Pharmaceuticals (VIC)

Minerals, Energy and Related Services Award Blast Movement Technologies (QLD)

Regional Exporter Award Premium Fresh Tasmania (TAS)

Small Business Award Tooletries (QLD)

Award winners on stage with the Hon Steven Ciobo MP,
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, at the 55th
Australian Export Awards in Canberra, December 2017.

Award winners on stage with the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, at the 55th Australian Export Awards in Canberra, December 2017.

Dr Jane Oppenheim and Alan Oppenheim of Ego
Pharmaceuticals, winner of the 2017 Australian Exporter
of the Year award; and Mr Ciobo at the 55th Australian
Export Awards.

L–R: Dr Jane Oppenheim and Alan Oppenheim of Ego Pharmaceuticals, winner of the 2017 Australian Exporter of the Year award; and Mr Ciobo at the 55th Australian Export Awards.

Working across government and with partners

Austrade provides a global and commercial perspective in its policy advice to government by using intelligence and insights gained from its network and interactions with investors, exporters and other stakeholders to inform and contribute to Australian Government policymaking. In particular, Austrade works across government to coordinate and provide input into domestic policy reforms to make the Australian tourism industry and education sector more competitive, while feedback from its clients and large offshore network enables Austrade to help shape Australia’s export and investment agendas.

Austrade operates in an environment increasingly affected by rapid geopolitical and technological change. Technology is creating higher expectations of accountability, interconnectivity, responsiveness, and effective service delivery. Within a resource-constrained operating environment, faced with significant, fast-paced and ongoing change and an increasingly complex geopolitical climate, Austrade recognises it cannot deliver on its broad remit alone.

A strong theme of the organisational capability assessment, conducted in 2017, was the importance of delivering increased value for our clients by:

  • further harnessing of Austrade’s unique understanding of international markets and the commercial interests of its clients to proactively inform and influence policy
  • expanding Austrade’s reach to collaborate with more partners to co-design and deliver seamless export and investment services that make the most of collective strengths and resources.

Austrade continues to work collaboratively with other organisations to help increase its reach into the business community.

Austrade has a longstanding working relationship with the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic). Austrade and Efic share a common objective—assisting Australian small and medium-sized enterprises to expand into international markets. Austrade and Efic cross-refer clients and co-host events to promote export opportunities, and a number of Efic staff members are co-located in Austrade’s state offices, including two staff based in Adelaide, two in Brisbane, three in Melbourne and three in Perth. Efic is closely involved in Austrade’s minister-led business missions, was a platinum sponsor of the Australian Export Awards in 2017–18, and is a contributor to Austrade’s free trade agreement seminar series.

Together with Efic, Austrade also partners with the Export Council of Australia to conduct its annual Australia’s International Business Survey, which is one of the largest and most in-depth surveys of its kind. For more information on the survey, see page 48.

Austrade also works closely with industry bodies to further trade and investment relationships in overseas markets. Throughout 2017–18, Austrade partnered with Australian Cyber Security Growth Network Limited—AustCyber— to prioritise international markets of focus for the sector and progress work on Australian cybersecurity capability mapping. Austrade and AustCyber collaborated on events such as SINET61, Australian British FinTech Cyber Catalyst and the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) National Conference 2017, and collaborated internationally to deliver the first, industry-specific Landing Pad cohort and the Australian Cyber Security Mission to the United States in April 2018.

Working across government on trade, tourism, investment and international education

Austrade provides advice to government directly through the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and through officials-level forums with a broad range of Australian Government and state and territory government departments responsible for, or with an interest in, trade, tourism, investment and international education.

During 2017–18, Austrade continued to support the Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting and the Tourism Ministers Meeting (both chaired by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and attended by the Minister’s state and territory counterparts), as well as the Tourism Access Working Group.

The Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting took place once in 2017–18, and the Tourism Ministers Meeting took place twice in 2017–18. Topics discussed at the meetings included the implementation of the Tourism 2020 strategy and beyond; tourism data needs; the global trade and investment outlook; and trade negotiations.

The Tourism Access Working Group is co-chaired by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and the Deputy Prime Minister and continues to provide an avenue for senior tourism and aviation industry representatives to raise important issues affecting the industry. The Tourism Access Working Group met once in 2017–18.

The Senior Officials Trade and Investment Group (SOTIG) and the Australian Standing Committee on Tourism (ASCOT) meet biannually and support the high-level ministerial meetings.

Co-chaired by the Deputy CEO from Austrade and deputy secretaries from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and attended by state and territory counterparts, both SOTIG and ASCOT met twice in 2017–18. These meetings focused on giving effect to the outcomes and decisions arising from the Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting and the Tourism Ministers Meeting, coordinating trade, tourism and investment policy and promotion, and sharing best practice among jurisdictions.

These ministerial meetings and senior officials groups also provide strategic direction to the operationally focused National Trade Working Group, the National Investment Advisory Board, and the Tourism and Hospitality Labour and Skills Roundtable. Chaired by Austrade, these forums provide opportunities for Commonwealth, state and territory practitioners to collaborate on trade, tourism and investment policy and promotional activities at an operational level, and improve access throughout the tourism sector through aviation policy, visa reform and visitor experience. All of these forums met twice in 2017–18.

AAustrade continued to chair the International Education Marketing Forum with states and territories. The forum met three times in 2017–18. The forum’s objective is to coordinate and maximise efforts across jurisdictions to market and promote Australian education internationally—a key theme arising from the Australian International Education 2025 strategy.

Supporting new policy initiatives

In November 2017, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, the then Prime Minister of Australia, together with the Hon Julie Bishop MP, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, the then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, launched the Foreign Policy White Paper to chart a clear course for Australia’s international engagement over the coming decade. In the white paper, the Government committed to a stronger nation brand to market Australia’s commercial, educational and cultural credentials. As part of this initiative, $10.1 million over four years was allocated to Austrade to develop the stronger brand to support the export of Australian products and services, and promote Australian interests, in markets across the world (see pages 61–62).

Austrade seconded two officers to a taskforce in the Department of the Prime Minister of Cabinet to assist with delivery of the ASEAN–Australia Special Summit, which took place in Sydney in March 2018. Austrade, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, also updated the popular Why ASEAN and Why Now publication for the business summit, one of the key lead-in events.

As part of a $16.6 million funding package provided in 2016–17, Austrade continued to deliver seminars to promote awareness of the business opportunities created by Australia’s free trade agreements, including new agreements such as the Peru–Australia Free Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11). Austrade also continued to administer the Free Trade Agreement Training Provider Grant program to provide targeted, sector-specific information to help exporters understand how they can take advantage of Australia’s free trade agreements (see page 83).

Austrade assisted Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) in the development of ISA’s strategic plan for Australia’s innovation, science and research system. Austrade seconded an officer to the taskforce that worked with ISA to develop the plan—the officer provided insights from an export and investment perspective, including the innovation benefits that can flow from foreign direct investment activity. ISA’s plan—titled Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation—was released in January 2018.

Austrade provided advice to the Department of Home Affairs (previously the Department of Immigration and Border Protection) as part of the department’s review of visa policy settings in relation to the competitiveness of Australia’s tourism and education sectors and the attraction of high-value foreign direct investment, including through the investor visa frameworks.

Organising minister-led business missions

Minister-led business missions continue to play an important role in promoting Australian export capabilities and investment opportunities. Austrade plays a central role in coordinating Commonwealth and state and territory government participation in the development and implementation of business programs to showcase Australian capability in key international markets.

During 2017–18, Austrade coordinated four minister-led business missions and a significant Australia Week promotion in India in August– September 2017. This brings the total number of minister-led business missions organised by Austrade since March 2014 to 39 (see Table 1). The number of companies registered on Austrade’s online minister-led business missions register increased to 875 in 2017–18, up from 780 in 2016–17.

While these large-scale events have been successful in promoting Australia’s interests and delivering market insights to large numbers of delegates, delegate research has shown that smaller scale, sector-specific missions can better focus on driving commercial outcomes through tailored business matching opportunities.

Table 1: Number of minister-led business missions, March 2014 to June 2018







Total since
March 2014

Minister-led business missions







Companies represented







Delegates who attended







Companies registered on Austrade's online business missions register(a)







(a) Data in this row represent cumulative totals year-on-year.

Note: During 2016–17, Austrade revised its methodology for counting the number of delegates participating in minister-led business missions, and now reports the number of delegates who attended the missions rather than those who registered to attend. In line with this change, figures for preceding years were adjusted and reported in last year’s annual report.


In August 2017, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, the then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and Senator the Hon Marise Payne, the then Minister for Defence, led a business mission to Singapore. The mission underlined the Australian Government’s vision to expand the trade and economic relationship with Singapore under the Australia–Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and to highlight the benefits arising from amendments to the Singapore–Australia Free Trade Agreement (the amendments entered into force in December 2017).

The visit highlighted the collaboration opportunities for Australian businesses in cybersecurity and the construction sector that harness the Singapore Government’s Smart Nation and development initiatives. Ms Payne led a delegation of 22 business and local government entities focused on the Australia– Singapore Military Training Initiative in Northern Queensland under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. She was also joined by Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald, Senator for Queensland, and the Hon Michelle Landry MP, Member for Capricornia.

Australia Business Week in India 2017

In August–September 2017, Mr Ciobo led a business delegation to India for Australia Business Week in India. Delegates participated in tailored industry programs covering agribusiness, higher education, innovation in life sciences and digital health, mining equipment, technology and services, and smart infrastructure. For more information on Australia Business Week in India, see pages 68–69.

Saudi Arabia

In September 2017, the Hon Keith Pitt MP, the then Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, led a business mission to Saudi Arabia. The visit included bilateral meetings and a number of business-focused events around the mining and related services sectors. The delegation helped reinforce Australia’s commitment to deepen the trade relationship with Saudi Arabia. The visit also confirmed that opportunities exist for Australian companies, particularly in the mining sector.


In October 2017, Mr Ciobo led a business mission to Mexico for a targeted program covering resources and energy, education, infrastructure, financial services, and premium food and agribusiness. The visit included sector-specialist panel discussions, briefings with Mexican decision-makers from industry and government, site visits to leading facilities, and networking opportunities.

Australia Business Week in India

In August–September 2017, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, the then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, led a major trade mission of 157 Australian business delegates to India for Australia Business Week in India (ABWI). The program featured 75 events delivered across six locations—Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bhopal. The program focused on industry sectors where Australian expertise is well matched to commercial potential in India, namely higher education, smart infrastructure, life sciences and digital health, agribusiness and food (grains and pulses), and mining equipment, technology and services. A number of other Australian Government and state government ministers also participated in ABWI, which attracted participation by 500 Indian customers.

ABWI was officially opened by a gala dinner, which was attended by 338 guests, including ABWI delegates and Australia–India CEO Forum participants. Mr Ciobo presented the keynote speech at the dinner. A plenary session at the start of the ABWI program provided delegates with a briefing on market conditions, economic dynamics, and political trends in India, and allowed them to hear directly from Indian market thought leaders.

With annual GDP growth above 7 per cent, India is the world’s fastest growing major economy. ABWI 2017 highlighted that Australian businesses have the resources and expertise to make a meaningful contribution to the Indian economy. For example, Australian institutions are helping to train and educate India’s youthful population, with more than 60,000 Indian students studying in Australian institutions in 2016. Australia’s world-class skills training system is helping India to meet its ambition to train 400 million people by 2022. ABWI 2017 also offered an important opportunity to explore opportunities for new collaboration and strengthen Australia’s growing trade and investment ties with India.

Australia Week events continue to prove their effectiveness, with 98 per cent of surveyed respondents saying their participation in ABWI had delivered an advantage to their organisation; 72 per cent reporting that most or all of their objectives for participation in ABWI had been met; and 64 per cent indicating they achieved or expected to achieve a new business relationship in the next three months.

With a smaller and more focused approach to the program for each sector, more opportunities for delegates to network with Indian customers were created. This revised approach has been successful in previous Australia Week events such as Indonesia Australia Business Week 2017, where delegates reported a high degree of satisfaction through an online survey conducted at the conclusion of the program.

The Hon Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment (left), with Mr Sudhir Suri of Suri Agro Fresh at Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee New Fruit Market, Delhi, during Australia Business Week in India 2017.

The Hon Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment (left), with Mr Sudhir Suri of Suri Agro Fresh at Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee New Fruit Market, Delhi, during Australia Business Week in India 2017.

Supporting visits by foreign government officials

As well as providing support for overseas visits by Australian ministers, Austrade continued to support visits to Australia by a diverse range of foreign government officials throughout the year. These visits included:

  • His Excellency Emmanuel Macron, President of France, attended the Prime Minister’s dinner at the Sydney Opera House along with Austrade CEO, Dr Stephanie Fahey, in addition to the launch of the Maritime Connection Days accelerator program during a visit to Garden Island.
  • His Excellency Rick Houenipwela MP, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, attended an Austrade-hosted tourism delegation roundtable in Australia.
  • His Excellency Sultan Saeed Al-Mansouri, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Economy, attended the Joint Economic Committee chaired by the then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP.
  • Mr Youssef Amrani, Moroccan Minister—Delegate for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, attended a business roundtable with Austrade on trade and investment opportunities in Morocco.
  • Mr Ning Jizhe, Vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, attended the Northern Australia Investment Forum in Cairns and witnessed the signing of the Austrade – China Development Bank Strategic Collaboration.
  • A delegation of Cambodian officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Economy and Finance attended a presentation by Austrade on trade and investment promotion and bilateral business opportunities.

Parliamentary inquiries and briefings

During the year, Austrade appeared before, or provided submissions to, the following parliamentary committees’ inquiries:

  • Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia inquiry into opportunities and methods for stimulating the tourism industry in Northern Australia—Austrade appeared before the Joint Standing Committee in October 2017.
  • Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth’s inquiry into the trade system and the digital economy—Austrade provided a submission in December 2017.
  • Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee inquiry into Australia’s trade and investment relationships with the countries of Africa—Austrade contributed to a Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio submission and appeared before the Joint Standing Committee in May 2018.
  • Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade inquiry into access to free trade agreements by small and medium-sized enterprises—Austrade contributed to a Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio submission and appeared before the Joint Standing Committee in June 2018.


minister-led business missions organised by Austrade in 2017–18


companies represented on the missions


delegates attended the missions


companies registered on Austrade's online minister-led business missions register

Attached agency agreements

Austrade administered a number of service level agreements with attached Australian Government agencies for the delivery of administrative support in Austrade-managed consulates-general in overseas locations. These included agreements with:

  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade—Bogota (ceased February 2018), Houston (active), Istanbul (ceased September 2017) and Ulaanbaatar (ceased June 2018)
  • Department of Home Affairs—Auckland (active), Dubai (active) and Istanbul (ceased September 2017)
  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources—Dubai (active)
  • Australian Federal Police—Dubai (active).

Austrade also employed staff on behalf of a number of state or territory governments to deliver mutually agreed business plans that support each state or territory’s trade, investment and education promotion activities in specific overseas markets. These included agreements with:

  • New South Wales Department of Industry in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, London, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo
  • South Australian Department of Trade, Tourism and Investment in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Shanghai and Singapore
  • Tasmanian Department of State Growth in Shanghai
  • Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources in Bogota (ceased December 2017)
  • Northern Territory Department of Trade, Business and Innovation in Jakarta and Singapore.

Austrade delivers services to, and works with, these agencies and departments overseas to ensure Australian, state and territory government activities are coordinated.

1 Department of Education and Training international student data.

2 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Composition of Trade, Australia, 2017,

3 Wine Australia Export Report 2017–18.

4 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ‘Trade and investment data, information and publications—Fact sheets for countries and regions’,

5 All trade data taken from International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook: Update, July 2018.

6 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Characteristics of Australian Exporters, 2016–17, cat. no. 5368.0.55.006, 20 June 2018. In 2017–18, the ABS stopped publishing a count of exporters of services.

7 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia, March 2018, cat. no. 5302.0, 6 June 2018.

8 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ‘Australia’s trade in goods and services 2017’,

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