A free society with good governance and an enterprising spirit

Australian enterprise and optimism go hand in hand. Australia is one of the best places in the world to start a company, gain credit and conduct business. Our entrepreneurial streak is underpinned by sound regulation, a lack of corruption and the rule of law. These qualities make Australia a secure base for expansion into the Asia-Pacific region.

There’s another reason why companies invest in Australia: people like living here. Australia’s capital cities are the envy of the world. They support a free and easy lifestyle that appeals to immigrant families and global professional talent. Australia is a natural place to nurture new, global teams.

It is no surprise that our cities top ‘liveability’ rankings in the Asia-Oceania region. Our cost of living is relatively low.

Australia also scores highly as a digital nation. In 2020, the UN ranked Australia fifth in the world for digital government services. The World Economic Forum also scores Australia fifth for e-participation.

Above all, we help workers build long-term security. Australia is home to a A$4 trillion asset management industry thanks to a compulsory pension system. As a percentage of GDP, this is the third largest bloc of retirement savings assets in the developed world.

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One of the world’s most business-friendly countries

Australia is one of the easiest places in the world to do business. According to rankings published by the World Bank that compare the ease of doing business in different countries, Australia rose four places to 14th position in 2020. When comparing economies with a population of more than 20 million, Australia now ranks fifth in the world, behind Korea (first), the US (second), the UK (third) and Malaysia (fourth). Australia ranked fourth for gaining credit, sixth for enforcing contracts and seventh for starting a business.

Key indicators of ease of doing business¹

  Ease of doing business Getting credit Enforcing contracts Starting a business Dealing with construction permits
Economy Overall ranking out of 190 economies Rank  Strength of legal rights index
(0-12) 
Depth of credit information index (0-8) Rank Time (days)  Quality of judicial processes index
(0-18) 
Rank Procedures (number) Time  (days) Rank Procedures (number) Time (days)
New Zealand 1 1 12 8 23 216 9.5 1 1 0.5 7 11 93
Singapore 2 37 8 7 1 164 15.5 4 2 1.5 5 9 36
Hong Kong SAR 3 37 8 7 31 385 10.0 5 2 1.5 1 8 69
Denmark 4 48 8 6 14 485 14.0 45 5 3.5 4 7 64
Korea 5 67 5 8 2 290 14.5 33 3 8 12 10 28
US 6 4 11 8 17 444 14.6 55 6 4 24 16 81
UK 8 37 7 8 34 437 15.0 18 4 4.5 23 9 86
Malaysia 12 37 7 8 35 425 13.0 126 8 17 2 9 41
Australia 14 4 11 8 6 402 15.5 7 3 2 11 11 121
Taiwan 15 104 2 8 11 510 14.0 21 3 10 6 10 82
UAE 16 48 6 8 9 445 14.0 17 2 3.5 3 11 48
Thailand 21 48 7 7 37 420 8.5 47 5 6 34 14 113
Germany 22 48 6 8 13 499 12.5 125 9 8 30 9 126
Canada 23 15 9 8 100 910 11.0 3 2 1.5 64 12 249
Japan 29 94 5 6 50 360 7.5 106 8 11 18 12 108
China 31 80 4 8 5 496 16.5 27 4 9 33 18 111
France 32 104 4 6 16 447 12.0 37 5 4 52 9 213
Italy 58 119 2 7 122 1,120 13.0 98 7 11 97 14 190
India 63 25 9 7 163 1,445 10.5 136 10 17.5 27 15 106
Vietnam 70 25 8 8 68 400 7.5 115 8 16 25 10 166
Indonesia 73 48 6 8 139 403 8.9 140 11 13 110 18 200
South Africa 84 80 5 7 102 600 8.5 139 7 40 98 20 155
Philippines 95 132 1 7 152 962 7.5 171 13 33 85 22 120

Notes: 1. For more information on the ease of doing business metrics, please visit the World Bank’s Doing Business website: https://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Sources: The World Bank, 2020, Doing Business 2020: Sustaining the pace of reforms; Austrade

Lifestyle cities that are global drawcards

Australian cities have become more internationally competitive for expatriates, with a lower cost of living compared to most major cities in the Asia-Oceania region according to Mercer's 2021 Cost of Living Index. This makes Australia a cost-competitive destination for international companies that want to relocate employees and their families, as well as for young workers who want to broaden their horizons.

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Notes: 1. The Mercer Cost of Living Index compares the cost of living across more than 400 cities around the world.  
Sources: Mercer, 2021, Cost of Living Index; Austrade

The fifth most valuable pension system in the world

Australia’s compulsory superannuation system has helped create the world’s fifth largest pension market, worth A$3 trillion (US$2 trillion) in 2020. Australian pension funds also experienced one of the highest growth rates of pension fund assets in the world. Assets rose to 175% of GDP in 2020 – up from 70% in 2000 – representing an annual growth rate of 11.3% in US dollar terms. Rapid growth reflects the vitality of Australia’s pension system, a major driver of the country’s fast-expanding managed funds industry.

Austrade-BM-global-pension-fund-assets-2020

Notes: 1. The assets/GDP ratio for individual markets is calculated in local currency terms, and the total assets/GDP ratio is calculated in US$. Note that the ratio of total pension assets to GDP declined from 2016 with the addition of China. China’s pension assets represent about 1.5% of total GDP. 2.Only includes autonomous pension funds. It does not consider insurance companies assets. 3. Includes Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). 4.Does not include the unfunded benefit obligation of corporate pension plans (account receivables). 5.Only includes pension assets for company pension schemes. 6.Only includes pension assets from closed entities. 7.Only includes Enterprise Annuity assets.
Sources: Willis Towers Watson, 2021, Thinking Ahead Institute and secondary sources, Global Pension Funds Assets Study; Austrade

Good governance, strong institutions and the rule of law

The quality of governance in Australia ranks among the best in the world. Australia’s regulatory environment, rule of law and lack of corruption are all graded highly by the World Bank. In Australia, fair and effective governance is seen as the foundation for economic growth and a free society. It generates confidence in Australia among major investors. It also makes Australia a secure base for multinationals seeking a base for expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.

Worldwide governance indicators, 2020¹

Economy Voice and accountability Political stability and absence of violence/terrorism Government effectiveness Regulatory quality Rule of law Control of corruption
New Zealand 98.0 97.1 94.2 99.0 97.6 100.0
Norway 100.0 92.4 97.6 97.1 99.5 97.1
Switzerland 97.0 94.8 99.5 94.7 99.0 96.2
Luxembourg 96.6 95.7 95.7 95.2 95.7 98.1
Sweden 99.5 86.7 97.1 96.6 98.6 98.6
Finland 99.0 79.0 98.6 97.6 100.0 99.0
Australia 93.1 88.6 92.8 98.6 93.3 94.2
Denmark 98.5 83.8 99.0 92.3 98.1 97.6
Netherlands 97.5 75.7 96.6 98.1 96.2 96.6
Canada 96.1 85.2 95.2 95.7 94.7 93.3
Germany 95.1 66.7 93.3 96.2 92.3 95.2
Ireland 94.6 82.4 86.5 93.3 88.9 89.4
Singapore 39.4 97.6 100.0 100.0 96.6 99.5
UK 90.6 63.8 90.4 93.8 91.3 93.8
Japan 78.3 85.7 93.8 88.5 90.4 89.9
France 87.7 58.6 89.4 90.9 89.4 88.9
Taiwan 80.3 70.5 90.9 90.4 85.1 82.7
US 78.8 57.6 91.3 88.9 89.9 84.6
Hong Kong SAR 54.2 36.7 96.2 99.5 91.8 92.3
Korea 72.9 61.4 88.5 82.2 86.1 76.9
Italy 79.8 61.0 69.2 76.9 61.5 62.0
Malaysia 43.3 51.0 79.3 73.6 73.1 62.5
India 57.6 21.4 59.6 48.6 52.4 47.6
Indonesia 52.7 28.1 60.1 51.4 42.3 38.0
Thailand 24.1 26.7 65.9 60.6 57.7 39.4
Brazil 58.6 24.8 43.8 48.1 47.6 42.3
Philippines 47.3 16.7 54.8 55.3 34.1 31.3
Mexico 45.3 21.0 45.7 59.6 27.4 22.6
China 6.4 38.1 71.6 42.8 45.2 43.3
Vietnam 11.8 53.8 53.8 41.8 53.4 34.1

Notes: 1. The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for over 200 countries and territories over the period 1996–2019, for six dimensions of governance in the above table. These aggregate indicators combine the views of a large number of enterprise, citizen and expert survey respondents in industrial and developing countries. They are based on over 30 individual data sources. Economy scores are reported as percentile ranks, with higher values indicating better governance ratings.
Sources: The World Bank, 2020, The Worldwide Governance Indicators, 2020; Austrade

A stable and efficient business environment

Australia has one of the world’s strongest and most efficient regulatory environments. According to the Institute for Management Development, Australia ranks highly in terms of labour regulations, equal opportunity legislation and access to credit. In the World Economic Forum's latest survey, Australia ranks lowest in the world for debt dynamics (the change in the public debt-to-GDP ratio); second highest for social capital (which includes social cohesion and engagement); and third highest for trade openness.

Business efficiency and environment, 2021

  Australia USA UK China India Japan Korea Hong Kong SAR Singapore
WEF Global Competitiveness Report 2019 Ranking(a) in:                
Debt dynamics1 =1 38 =1 41 =43 42 =1 =1 39
Social capital2 2 6 8 119 93 90 72 47 15
Trade openness3 3 14 25 71 131 9 67 2 1
Soundness of banks 5 25 52 95 89 33 62 3 2
E-Participation =5 =5 =5 29 =15 =5 =1 n/a =13
Time to start a business (days) 6 31 =21 56 =90 70 =14 =2 =2
Energy efficiency regulation 7 12 8 21 33 31 3 n/a 19
Property rights 9 22 25 58 65 5 39 4 3
Non-performing loans % of gross total loans 10 14 8 26 106 15 3 6 17
IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2021 Ranking(b) in:                
State ownership of enterprises is not a threat to business activities 3 13 9 42 27 17 55 8 24
Labour regulations do not hinder business activities 5 13 9 25 38 40 45 3 6
Unemployment legislation provides an incentive to look for work 5 25 8 20 35 32 15 3 1
Bureaucracy does not hinder business activity 7 17 15 24 25 23 58 16 3
Equal opportunity legislation encourages economic development 8 22 17 19 26 20 41 16 6
Credit is easily available for business 9 1 10 38 37 21 41 5 16
Environmental laws & compliance hinder business competitiveness 10 25 13 19 53 11 41 8 6

Notes: 1. Debt dynamics measures the change in public debt-to-GDP ratio, weighted by a country’s credit rating and debt level in relation to its GDP. 2. Social capital measures national performance in three areas: social cohesion and engagement (bridging social capital), community and family networks (bonding social capital), and political participation and institutional trust (linking social capital). 3. Trade openness comprises indicators of prevalence of non-tariff barriers, trade tariffs %, complexity of tariffs and border clearance efficiency.
Sources: (a) World Economic Forum, 2019, Global Competitiveness Report; (b) Institute for Management Development, 2021, World Competitiveness Yearbook 2021; Austrade

Australian optimism and the entrepreneurial spirit

Australia has one of the most entrepreneurial business cultures in the world, according to the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute. Enterprise is a crucial engine of economic growth and the organisation’s annual index measures entrepreneurial attitudes, abilities and aspiration. In 2019, Australia ranked sixth out of 137 countries – behind the UK and ahead of Germany, Korea, Norway, Japan, China and ASEAN (including Singapore).

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Notes: 1. The number in brackets indicates the country’s global ranking across 137 countries. 2. The Global Entrepreneurship Index is based on the weighted average of three indices: entrepreneurial attitudes, entrepreneurial abilities and entrepreneurial aspiration. For more information on the methodology, see https://thegedi.org/global-entrepreneurship-and-development-index/ 3. Totals may not always add up exactly due to rounding.
Sources: Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, 2019, Global Entrepreneurship Index; Austrade

A global fifth place for digital government

The Australian Government is a technology early adopter. The United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI)² ranked Australia fifth out of 193 governments in 2020. Putting government services online typically increases the efficiency of interactions between businesses, individuals and government departments. For example, Australia’s centralised online government service, myGov, brings health, tax and welfare interactions into one portal.

Austrade-BM-e-government-development-by-region

Notes: 1. The number in brackets indicates the country’s global ranking across 193 countries. 2. The EGDI measures the degree of digitalisation by the public service. The EDGI is based on the weighted average of three indices: the telecommunications infrastructure index, online service index, and human capital index. 3. Totals may not always add up exactly due to rounding.
Sources: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2020, E-Government Survey 2020, Annex Tables 2 and 3; Austrade

Global top 10 for high-income households

Australia is a large consumer market and Australian households have high disposable incomes. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Australia is the ninth largest high-income consumer market, with 6.8 million households generating an income above US$50,000 per year. The EIU estimates that the number of high-income households in Australia is growing by 3% per year, and will reach more than 9 million households by 2030.

Austrade-BM-number-of-households-with disposable-income-over-us50000

Notes: 1. The number in brackets indicates the country’s global ranking in 2020 across 61 countries. 2. Includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Sources: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2020, Data Tool; Austrade