Strong global demand for Australia’s resources, energy and food

Global demand for Australia’s energy, minerals and food kept exports strong throughout 2021. A back-to-back La Niña season will likely deliver another bumper crop for Australian farmers. Agricultural production is forecast to reach a record A$80 billion in 2022–23. Export value is expected to be around A$65 billion in 2022-23.

Mining and resources powered Australia to a record trade surplus in 2021. High commodity prices helped. Strong demand for iron ore delivered A$155 billion worth of exports in 2021. During 2021, we vied with Qatar as the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Australia’s high-flying mining and energy sectors are pivoting towards a low-carbon future. Australia has the world’s second largest reserves of lithium, and investment is surging into new projects. Meanwhile, wind and solar energy is growing strongly. The ratio of power generated from renewable sources jumped from 21% in 2019 to 25% in 2020.

Our digital entrepreneurship is broad-based. Australia is home to approximately 700 fintech companies, 600 edtech companies, 500 medtech companies, and 400 agtech and foodtech companies. Fintechs in particular are thriving in Australia’s A$11 trillion financial sector and attracting global investment.

dynamic industries

A leader in new technologies

Australian entrepreneurs and academics work well together. They have pioneered world-class technologies in agriculture, education, financial services and health. Innovation includes the use of blockchain in finance, immersive simulation technologies in education, robotics in medical procedures and the Internet of Things in agriculture. Australia is also recognised as a world leader in silicon-based quantum computing research.


Sources: 1. KPMG, 2020, KPMG Fintech Landscape 2020. 2. FinTech Australia, Australian fintech: leading the world, accessed October 2021. 3. Findable, 2021 Global Fintech Rankings. 4. EY, FinTech Australia Census 2021. 5. Austrade, 2021 EduGrowth: Sector overview and statistics. 6. Frost & Sullivan, 2018, Global Digital Health Outlook. 7. WIPO Patent Statistics, 2021, Total count by applicant's origin (equivalent count) 2030: Growing agriculture into a $100 billion industry. 8. KPMG, 2018, Talking 2030: Growing agriculture into a $100 billion industry. 9. Department of Agriculture, 2020, Drought & Emergency Management: A new focus on agricultural innovation investments to harness collective power of RDCs

Abundant reserves of resources and energy

Australia is a major commodity exporter. Resources and energy contributed almost three-quarters of goods exports in 2021. Currently, Australia has the world’s largest reserves of iron ore, gold and uranium. Liquefied natural gas, coal and uranium exports make Australia a major energy supplier to Asian economies. Demand for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles will power Australia's lithium industry. Australia is the leading producer of lithium, and investment is set to surge as customers secure global supply chains.

Sources: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2022, Trade statistical pivot tables; Geoscience Australia, 2022, Australia's Identified Mineral Resources; BP, 2021, Statistical Review of World Energy; Austrade

A major supplier of resources and energy to Asia’s industries

Australia’s resources and energy exports have increased by a factor of five in just 20 years. Asia is the big buyer. Following a moderate growth of 3.2% in 2019-20, exports of these two commodities increased by 6.6% to around A$310 billion in the year to June 2021. Australia’s resources and energy exports are projected to hit a new record of A$425 billion in 2021–22. This is an impressive result amid global economic uncertainties.


Notes: 1. Annual value of commodity exports, free on board (fob). 2. CAGR = Compound annual growth rate.
Sources: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, Office of the Chief Economist, 2022, Resources and Energy Quarterly, March 2022; Austrade

A power surge for wind and solar energy

Renewables deliver a fast-growing share of Australian energy production. They accounted for a record 25% of total electricity generation in 2020. Australian companies have dramatically increased production of renewable energy since 2010. Wind and solar have overtaken hydro in terms of energy production. Currently, Australia is the world’s seventh largest producer of solar energy. Innovation in solar energy is attracting major investment. Australia is set to export solar power from Darwin to Singapore from 2027.

Austrade-BM-australias-renewable-energy-generation-volumes-and world-rankings

Sources: U.S Energy Information Administration, 2021, International energy statistics; Austrade

A top agri-exporter to Asian markets

Food and fibre¹ exports reached A$49 billion in 2020–21. Asia is a major customer. Of Australia’s 15 top food markets, 11 are in the Asia region², and they account for two-thirds of the nation’s agrifoods exports. With a reputation for high agricultural standards and a well-regulated food industry, Australian produce commands premium prices. Meanwhile, Australia’s network of regional free trade agreements gives Australian growers preferential access to Asian markets.

Australias-top-15 export-destinations-for-food-and-fibre

Notes: 1. Export value of Australian food and fibre is defined as the total export value of primary products (unprocessed – food & live animals total); primary products (unprocessed – Other – Hides skins & furskins raw); primary products (unprocessed – Other – Textile fibres unprocessed & waste); and primary products (processed – food total). 2. The Asia region is defined as Asia and Oceania.

Sources: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2021, Trade statistical pivot table; Austrade


A clean, green source of food and natural fibres

Global markets have developed a taste for high-value, branded, premium Australian produce. Beef is the biggest export earner, generating A$8.4 billion of overseas earnings in 2020–21. Australia is also a major exporter of wheat, wool, wine, lamb, barley, canola, sugar, fruit, live cattle, mutton, tree nuts, cheese, raw cotton and chickpeas. Together, these top 15 products contributed almost 70% to the total value of Australia’s A$53 billion of agricultural exports in 2020–21.


Notes: 1. Includes wheat flour. 2. Greasy wool exports shown on a balance of payments basis before 2015–16. 3. Includes malt. 4. Includes buffalo. 5. Excludes cotton waste and linters.

E: ABARES estimate

Sources: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, 2021, Agricultural commodities – Statistical Tables 13 and 17; Austrade

Sophisticated financial markets and a large managed funds sector

Australia is home to the world’s sixth largest pool of managed funds and ninth largest stock market1. Australia’s US$2.7 trillion managed funds sector is underpinned by a mandated retirement savings scheme, called superannuation. This has created the fifth largest pension pool in the world.


Note: 1. As measured by market capitalisation of freely floating stocks.

Sources: 2. Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), 2022, Assets of Financial Institutions; Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2022, Managed Funds; Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, 2022, Quarterly general insurance performance statistics; ABS, 2022, Assets and Liabilities of Australian Securitisers; ABS, 2022, Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product; RBA, 2022, Exchange Rates. 3. Investment Company Institute, 2022, Worldwide Market Data. 4. Standard & Poor’s, 2021, S&P Dow Jones Indices World-By-Numbers. 5. Thinking Ahead Institute, Willis Towers, Watson, 2022, Global Pension Assets Study. 6. Bank for International Settlements, 2019, Triennial Central Bank Survey of Foreign Exchange and OTC Derivatives Markets. 7. Bank for International Settlements, 2022, Debt securities statistics; Austrade

Australia’s A$11 trillion financial sector

Australian financial markets are large relative to the overall size of the economy. The total estimated value of all financial assets rose to A$10.9 trillion (about US$8 trillion) in the March 2022 quarter. This equates to around five times the value of Australia’s GDP. The financial sector has grown on average by 9% per year on average over the past 20 years, almost doubling its share of the Australian economy. Finance is now the second largest contributor to the country’s economy by gross value added.³


Notes: 1. Include banks, credit unions and building societies; other authorised deposit-taking institutions. 2. Other: Money market corporations (broker-dealers); finance companies (including general financiers and pastoral finance companies); and securitisers. 3. Gross value added provides a dollar value for the amount of goods and services that have been produced in a country, minus the cost of all inputs and raw materials that are directly attributable to that production.

CAGR = Compound annual growth rate. ADIs = Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions

Sources: Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), 2022, Assets of Financial Institutions; Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2022, Managed Funds; Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, 2022, Quarterly general insurance performance statistics; ABS, 2022, Assets and Liabilities of Australian Securitisers; ABS, 2022, Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product; RBA, 2022, Exchange Rates; Austrade

Leaders in digital adoption

Australian shoppers are digitally savvy consumers. This has created one of the world’s most vibrant digital markets. Euromonitor placed Australia fourth in its 2021 Digital Consumer Index, well above many economies in the region including Hong Kong, Japan and all major ASEAN countries. Australia has advanced IT infrastructure and mobile connectivity by international standards. This prepared citizens for remote working and online shopping during the pandemic. Australian financial regulation encourages online innovation, such as digital payments, buy-now, pay-later purchasing, and mobile digital wallets.

Digital Consumer Index, 2021

Economy 2021 Rank 2021 Index
Korea 1 75
UK 2 69
US 3 68
Australia 4 67
UAE 5 65
Denmark 6 64
Netherlands 7 63
New Zealand 8 63
Singapore 9 63
Israel 10 62
Developed economies - 60
Belgium 11 61.4
Hong Kong SAR 12 61.2
Japan 13 61.0
Sweden 14 60.9
Norway 15 60.1

Sources: Euromonitor, 2021, 2021 Digital Consumer Index Methodology and Data Download; Austrade

A global hub for higher education and skills training

Australia is a top destination for students who travel overseas for tertiary education. In 2021, Australia attracted around 720,000 international student enrolments. This intake was spread across universities, technical colleges, vocational education training colleges, English language courses and schools. About 80% of students arrived from Asian countries. About 90% of overseas students enrolled in higher education in Australia arrived from Asian countries. 


Notes: 1. Enrolment numbers reflect international student enrolments (by country of citizenship). 2. 2021 data contains statistics relating to enrolments in higher education courses in each Australian Higher Education Provider and is correct as at the March 2022 release of student data (revised monthly). 2021 data should be interpreted with caution. Under current COVID-19 conditions, an enrolment does not confirm if a student was in Australia at the time of reporting. 3. Excludes enrolments from New Zealand as students do not require an international student visa to study in Australia. 4. ‘Other’ includes enrolments from countries not known or where no further information was provided.
Source: Austrade, 2022, Market Information Package

Domestic tourism and Australia's travel industry 

Domestic tourism helped sustain Australian travel and hospitality while international borders were closed. State borders were mostly open in the first half of 2021 and this released pent-up demand. In May 2021, spending on domestic overnight trips exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 9%. This was a remarkable improvement from April 2020 when spending was down 91% on a year earlier. Renewed lockdowns in mid-to-late 2021 affected the recovery. Thanks to high vaccine uptakes, however, lockdowns across states have lifted and international arrivals have started to increase. Domestic overnight spend in February and March 2022 was up from pre-pandemic levels, while preliminary data on trip rates indicate this recovery in tourism is being sustained.

Sources: Tourism Research Australia, 2022, unpublished data; Austrade