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Doing Business in Australia: 2015 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies


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Chapter 1: Doing Business In Australia

Market Overview Return to top

Note: As of May 25, 2015: AUD1.00 = USD0.80

  • Total U.S. - Australia bilateral trade of goods and services in 2013 - 2014: USD60.1 billion
  • U.S. exports of goods and services to Australia in 2014: USD45.9 billion
  • U.S. goods exports to Australia in 2014: USD26.7 billion
  • U.S. services exports to Australia in 2014: USD19.2 billion
  • Australia’s rank as a U.S. export market in 2014: 15th largest
  • Principal U.S. exports to Australia in 2014: see Chapter 4
  • World Bank Doing Business 2015 Rank: 10 of 189 (11 in 2014).
  • Australia – U.S. Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) elimination of tariffs provides new market opportunities for U.S. companies.

Australia is the world's 12th largest economy with a GDP of USD1.560 trillion, and its real GDP is projected to increase by 2.8% in 2015 and 3.2% in 2016, after a 2.7% increase in 2014.

Australia’s per-capita GDP of over USD67,463 is among the highest in the world and the economy recorded 23 years of uninterrupted annual growth to 2014. Growth in commodity exports to Asia buoyed Australia through the GFC but adversely affected the manufacturing and services sectors because of the strong Australian dollar. The 2015 downturn in the global commodity cycle has impacted Australia’s economy.

Despite this decline in resource-related investment, Australia remains a vibrant and important market for U.S. goods and services.

  • In terms of size, Australia continues to be among the top five export markets for U.S. mining and agricultural equipment and technology.
  • The United States has one of its largest trade surpluses with Australia.
  • In the OECD, Australia ranks in the top five in terms of average household disposable income.
  • There is a Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Australia that has effectively eliminated tariffs on most goods.
  • International trade holds a proportionately larger share of the Australian economy. Australians are accustomed to sourcing from overseas.

Australia is generally welcoming to foreign investment, and Australia's investment climate is conducive to investment from the United States. In 2014 the United States was Australia’s largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock, totaling USD159 billion of investment or approximately 24% of all FDI in Australia. Australia is the United States’ 15th largest export market and third largest trading partner. U.S. direct investment in Australia is led by mining, finance and insurance, and manufacturing sectors.

The Commonwealth Government declared when it came into office in September 2013 that Australia was “open for business.” The Government pledged to reduce levels of bureaucracy to encourage investment. Since coming to office, the Government has repealed a tax on carbon emissions and a tax on mining-company profits, sought to reduce the number of regulatory measures, and position Australia as an open and investment-friendly destination. The Government has also embarked on wide-ranging reviews of national competition policy, labor market reform, taxation policy, and productivity.

Since coming into force on January 1, 2005, the Australia - U.S. Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) has introduced reduced tariffs, increased quotas and investment thresholds, provided greater intellectual property protection, and fostered greater two-way investment.  Since entering into force, Australian companies have gained access to the U.S. Federal Government procurement market and over 99 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial goods now enter Australia duty-free. Since AUSFTA came into force in 2005, U.S. goods exports to Australia have risen from a nominal $13.96 billion in 2004 to $26.67 billion in 2014, an increase of 91 percent in dollar terms.

In accordance with tariff eliminations agreed as part of the AUSFTA agreement, a number of changes occurred on January 1, 2015 in line with the 10th anniversary of the agreement coming into force.  Remaining U.S. tariffs on wine, and textiles and apparel were removed.  There was an increase in the duty-free tariff rate quotas for Australian exports of beef, dairy, tobacco, cotton, peanuts, and avocados, and the remaining Australian tariffs on textiles and apparel were also removed.

Australia has a well-established legal and court system for the conduct or supervision of litigation and arbitration, as well as alternate dispute processes. The country is a world leader in the development and provision of non-court dispute resolution mechanisms, and is a signatory to all the major international dispute resolution conventions. There are few disputes that involve foreign investors.

Australia has an AAA international credit rating with a well-developed, deep and sophisticated financial market, regulated in accordance with international norms. Australia’s four leading banks are highly ranked in terms of financial security and international rankings.

Australia has a large services sector (over 70% of GDP), but is also a significant resources, energy and food exporter. Australia’s abundant and diverse resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron ore, copper, gold, natural gas, uranium, and renewable energy sources. A series of major investments, such as the USD52 billion Gorgon LNG project led by Chevron, will significantly expand the resources sector. Currently there is a large investment pipeline, but slowing commodity prices and high project costs have led to a significant decline in the value of the investment pipeline.

  • We advise American firms examining the Australian market to pay attention to macro measures of opportunity, which give it more purchasing power relative to that in less- developed economies. Along with the Free Trade Agreement, the case for entering or expanding in the Australian market is stronger than the population of 23 million might suggest.
  • Australia’s relative market appeal remains convincing, with few barriers to entry, a familiar legal and corporate framework, sophisticated consumer and industrial sectors, and a straightforward, English-speaking business culture. The Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement enhanced the long and successful trading relationship by eliminating tariffs on almost all U.S. manufactured and agricultural goods.

We believe 2015 will continue to show demand for American companies with innovative products and technologies in the Australian market. We invite you to contact us to help you analyze and execute your objectives for the Australian market.

Market Challenges Return to top

  • Australia’s distance from the rest of the world, large land area, and relatively small population has led to market dominance by a few large firms in certain sectors.

  • Australia is integrated into the world economy and remains a commercial and financial center for the region. American companies will find that Australian and third-country competitors in Australia have some long-established brands with strong reputations and existing supplier relationships.
  • Australia has ready access to Asian and other, low-cost producers. American firms must therefore demonstrate sufficient added value to overcome the costs of getting the product to market, and to compete.

Market Opportunities Return to top

In terms of broad merchandise trade categories, the United States is a major exporter to Australia of transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals, electronic products, fabricated metal products, processed foods, electrical equipment, plastics and rubber products, primary metal products and agricultural products and equipment.

Specific product/service sectors that we have identified as representing strong prospects for U.S. exporters are: Pleasure Craft; Aircraft and Parts; Agricultural Machinery; Medical Equipment; Information Technology Services; Tourism; and Smart Grid Technology. More information on these sectors can be found in Chapter 4.

Market Entry Strategy Return to top

  • Successful market entry strategies for Australia have three common elements: understanding the market, selecting the optimal partner, and providing ongoing support to that partner in the market.
  • A common language and familiar business framework may lead Americans to overlook Australia’s cultural and market differences. It is vital to first gain an understanding of the Australian context for a product or service, its competitors, standards, regulations, sales channels, and applications.
  • Success in the Australian market often requires establishing a local sales presence. For many American exporters this means appointing an agent or distributor. The bounds of that appointment are negotiated, and may include only certain states of Australia, the entire country, or New Zealand as well.
  • The distance from many of their trading partners and the sheer size of the Australian continent - comparable to the continental U.S. - causes Australian firms to stress the importance of local support and service. American companies should visit Australia both to meet prospective partners and demonstrate ongoing support, as this is the common practice of their competitors.

Most of the criteria American firms use to select agents or distributors are applicable to Australia, with expectations adjusted to the scale of the market given the population of 23 million. Performing due diligence is just as important as in the United States, and we offer resources to assist in that work.

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Chapter 2: Political and Economic Environment

For background information on the political and economic environment of the country, please click on the link below to the U.S. Department of State Background Notes.


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Chapter 3: Selling U.S. Products and Services

Using an Agent or Distributor Return to top

The following describes the distinctions between a sales agent or representative and distributor as understood in the Australian context. While this report is produced for the benefit of U.S. companies, we use the term ‘foreign company’ because it applies to third country companies as well.

Sales Agents

Sales agents or representatives solicit business for a foreign company and serve as a conduit for purchase agreements. In most cases, a sales agent does not have the power to negotiate terms, or to finalize the sales contract. Instead, the sales representative forwards the contract to the foreign company that either accepts, rejects, or proposes modifications. The sales representative, nonetheless, is considered to be an agent of the foreign corporation, and under the general laws of agency, the foreign corporation may be liable for the actions of its agent.

Agents assume a number of duties and obligations once a representation contract with a foreign company is finalized, including adherence to the principal’s instructions, good faith in the interests of the principal, and maintenance of proper accounts. The agent retains the right to remuneration and the right to an indemnity for liabilities or losses incurred due to improper termination. Australian law, however, has not required indemnity payments.

Parties may stipulate specific causes for termination in the agreement. Either party may terminate the agreement upon receipt of reasonable notice of termination. Although no specific time period exists which defines a reasonable notice period, courts may take into consideration the nature and length of the contract when determining whether reasonable notice was given.


A distributor acts as an independent contractor, purchasing products from the foreign corporation and distributing them to wholesale buyers or retailers. Generally, a foreign corporation cannot restrain a distributor from selling competitors’ products. Australian distributors often ask for exclusive geographic rights to market a foreign corporation’s products. Due to the size of the market, Australian distributors often request nationwide exclusivity.

American companies can choose to have Australian or U.S. law govern their contracts when drafting an agreement. The choice of jurisdiction does not, however, preclude the application of mandatory provisions in Australian law. Without a stipulation of law, Australian courts will apply the law of the jurisdiction where the agent or distributor works, that is, Australian federal law and appropriate state and local law. Notification of agent/distributor appointments should be submitted in writing to satisfy various state jurisdictional laws, especially when they last for more than one year or include terms for commissioning the agent. Either fixed or indefinite-term contracts may be employed. Repeated renewal of fixed-term contracts will not cause the contract to achieve indefinite-term status.

Foreign companies providing consulting and other services in Australia may be required to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN). Registration will depend on the value of the consulting service and whether that service is provided in Australia. U.S. firms can register online at: https://abr.gov.au/For-Business,-Super-funds---Charities/Applying-for-an-ABN/. Foreign companies exporting products (as opposed to providing services in the market) do not require an ABN number.

By registering for an ABN, the Australian Tax Office is able to ensure that the Australian customer will pay GST (Goods and Services Tax) on the services it receives. The invoice issued to the Australian customer should include a GST component. In fact, the customer pays the GST that the vendor in turn, pays the Australian Tax Office.

The U.S. Commercial Service in Australia provides a range of services to help American companies identify, qualify, meet and select potential agents or distributors. American companies can arrange these services directly or through their local U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center (EAC) in the United States. More information can be found later in this report.

Establishing an Office Return to top

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the national authority responsible for the administration of companies and securities law throughout Australia. ASIC provides a nationwide system for the registration and regulation of companies, securities, and futures markets. The requirements for starting a business are uniform in each state, and the same rules apply for local and overseas companies. While companies are registered with ASIC, each state registers individuals doing business under business names.

Australian business practices are similar to those in the United States. Establishing a business in Australia, either singly or in partnership with a local company, is relatively straightforward, and a foreign company can choose from a range of business structures. The most common forms of business organizations are representative offices, branches of parent companies, subsidiaries, sole traders, partnerships, trusts, companies, and joint ventures. Overseas investors may set up an operation using any of these forms, irrespective of the business structure they have elsewhere.

Most significant businesses operating in Australia are incorporated as either private or public companies. Under the Corporations Law, the entity is registered automatically as an Australian company, upon its registration with ASIC, enabling it to conduct business throughout Australia without further registration in individual states or territories. Local companies may be fully controlled by foreign owners. All registered companies must conform to Australian company law administered by ASIC, covering accounting, financial statements, annual returns, auditing, general meeting requirements, and the necessity to maintain a registered office open to the public.

A private company is the most typical structure for an overseas investor if it is to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of a foreign company and if public offering of shares is not intended. The regulations that apply to a private company are simpler and less costly than those applicable to a publicly-traded company. A private company may be converted into a publicly-traded company at any time.

Branch offices of overseas companies are established in Australia by registering the overseas corporation as a foreign company under Australia’s Corporation Law. A branch office does not require directors to be Australian residents but must have a registered office address and a statutory agent responsible to fulfill the requirements of the Corporations Law. The branch will be assigned an Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN), which must be shown with the corporation’s name on public documents. In addition, if a business in the U.S. has an office in Australia, that office will be required to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN) under the Goods and Services Tax introduced on July 1, 2000.

Information on the GST and its impact on foreign companies with or without operations in Australia, and the ABN application process can be found on the websites of the Australian Taxation Office (http://www.ato.gov.au/Business/) and the Australian Government’s Business Entry Point (http://www.business.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx).

While establishing an office is fairly straightforward, we encourage U.S. companies to obtain expert legal and financial advice, readily available from Australian and multinational providers. Nominal costs for company incorporation include: filing fees payable to ASIC, legal costs for preparing the charter and bylaws, and registration. Application forms are available from ASIC Business Centers in any Australian state (http://www.asic.gov.au) and can be filed in any city.

Franchising Return to top

Franchising is well established in Australia with more franchising outlets per capita than any country in the world, and three times more per capita than in the U.S. The sector is considered both large and mature contributing nine percent of Australia’s GDP. There are over 1,100 business format franchise systems currently operating in Australia.

The best opportunities for franchising in Australia are within the retail non-food industry which accounts for 26.6 percent of franchisors (24 percent of franchise units involved in retailing).

There is potential within the accommodation and food services (including food retail, fast food and coffee shops) which equates to 17.6 per cent of franchisors. Opportunities exist within food retail where the overall concept is to promote health and well-being along with a variety of niche food service options. Food niches include regional food concepts such as Tex-Mex and southern cooking.

The administration and support services category follows next, and includes travel agencies, domestic and industrial cleaning, and garden services. This sector accounts for 15.6 percent of franchising activity and represents five per cent of franchise units.

A total of 92 percent of franchise systems are home grown. On average, Australian franchises have been operating for 21 years and franchising for 13 years. To be successful, franchisors must be flexible to “Australianize” their systems in order to suit the local market. Establishing proof of concept by first setting up a corporate or flagship business in Australia is also important as master franchisees interested in international concepts are not common.

Legal Requirements:

The Australian franchise industry is heavily regulated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission since 1998 when it enacted a Franchising Code of Conduct in the Competition and Consumer Act. The mandatory Code was created to assist the ongoing relationship between the franchisee and franchisor. This code seeks to cover issues which include the disclosure of the pertinent information regarding the franchisor, conditions contained within the Franchise Agreement, complaint handling, and dispute resolution procedures.

In July 2010, the Australian Federal Government enacted a number of amendments to the Franchising Code of Conduct. These amendments include a disclosure document which must comply with the amended code. As a result, franchisors need to provide additional disclosure including: franchise failure; payments to third parties; significant capital expenditure; legal costs; notice of renewal; and dispute resolution. Further amendments to the Code were also introduced in January 2015.

Franchise Council of Australia (FCA): http://www.franchise.org.au

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission: http://www.accc.gov.au

Direct Marketing Return to top

Advancements within the telecommunications industry and technological developments associated with database applications have resulted in significant growth in the direct marketing industry. As with most forms of advertising, direct marketing is becoming saturated in the marketplace and competition for the consumer’s attention is increasing.

A wide range of communication facilities are used in this competitive industry. This includes telephones (telemarketing), mail (catalogs/direct mail), traditional broadcast and print media (direct response advertising via television, radio, newspapers, and magazines) and electronic media (the Internet). In response to community concerns and complaints about unsolicited direct marketing calls to private telephones, the Australian government introduced the Do Not Call Register in May 2007 for those consumers who want to opt out of receiving calls from telemarketers. Organizations exempt from adhering to the Do Not Call Register regulations include charities, government bodies, religious groups, educational institutions, and registered political parties.

Commercial electronic messaging (emails, SMS, MMS, or similar) is regulated in Australia under the Spam Act. Such messages must be sent with the recipient’s consent and identify the person or organization that authorized sending the message. Commercial electronic messages must also contain a functional ‘unsubscribe’ facility to allow the recipient to opt-out from receiving messages from that source in the future.

Australian legislation banned the commercial sale of email addresses, and businesses have been forced to draw on their own resources to build email marketing databases. Internet marketers find these email marketing database systems to be an inexpensive and efficient way to reach customers. These new database systems have also leveled the playing field for small businesses that would like to inform customers about the company’s new deals.

The Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (http://www.adma.com.au) is Australia’s principal body for information-based marketing and represents more than 500 member organizations. ADMA works closely with government, consumer, and industry groups on the development of codes of practice for direct marketing.

Joint Ventures/Licensing Return to top

Joint ventures (JV) are a common feature of Australia’s commercial and legal environment. Broadly similar to U.S. practice, joint venture forms in Australia include:

Unincorporated Joint Ventures. The rights and obligations of these joint venture parties are set out extensively in the JV documents. An unincorporated JV is sometimes more suitable for a single project or business venture, for example, in sectors like the mining and oil and gas industries. The joint venture document is usually drafted in such a way as not to reflect a partnership for certain tax advantages and also to avoid the application of partnership laws in areas such as joint liability to the joint venture.

Incorporated Joint Ventures. This usually involves the joint venture parties’ conducting their business through incorporation of a JV company or trust. The parties commonly set out their respective rights and obligations in a shareholder or unit holder’s agreement to resolve any dispute not regulated by the Corporations Law or the constitution of the company or trust.

Unit Trusts are devices that enable the separation of legal and beneficial interests in assets and the income derived therein. In a joint venture situation, the participants wish to insure that their entitlements are fixed rather than discretionary. A unit trust is a legal entity in which the entitlement of beneficiaries is expressed in units relative to the total number of fixed units.

Limited Partnerships are creations of statute. They remain partnerships of general law and, therefore, do not give rise to the existence of separate legal entities. A limited partnership structure requires at least one general partner to have unlimited liability and partners whose liability is limited to the extent of their investment in the partnership. Limited partnerships are rarely used in Australia.

Hybrid Forms comprise elements of each of the foregoing. They can also be created to suit the needs of the particular participants. For example, one participant in an unincorporated joint venture could be the trustee of a unit trust, while one shareholder in an incorporated joint venture could also be the trustee of a unit trust.

Licensing: Australian industry is known for its practical approach to problem solving. In this context, the role of licensing is of particular importance for Australian commerce and industry. The common language and cultural similarities make negotiation and understanding easier.

License agreements involving Australian companies should contain the usual terms one would find in a license in the United States, for example, type of license being granted (i.e., sole, exclusive or non-exclusive), territory covered, license fee or royalty, licensee’s duties and obligations, period of grant and field use of the technology involved, maintenance of quality control, ownership rights in improvements and innovations made by licensee, warranties and indemnities, technical assistance and confidentiality, sub-licensing and assignments, and termination.

On the whole, there are few legal and administrative requirements governing the field of licensing in Australia. Exclusive licenses of patents, copyrights and other statutory rights require compliance with certain minor formalities. The Trademark Act of Australia provides for the registration of licensees (or ‘users’, as they are called in the legislation).

Selling to the Government Return to top

Australia is not a signatory to the multilateral WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), though it does have observer status with the agreement. As a consequence, Australia is not bound by the GPA’s rules on open and non-discriminatory policies in government procurement.

The Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Australia (AUSFTA) commits Australia to open its federal and state government procurement market to U.S. suppliers at all levels and eliminate discriminatory preferences for most domestic suppliers.

Distribution and Sales Channels Return to top

Distribution channels in Australia tend to be more generalized than those in the U.S. This is primarily due to Australia's relatively small population and industrial base. In most cases, Australia's distribution and sales channels are comparable to those in other industrialized countries. U.S. exporters commonly use importers, distributors, agents, wholesalers, and manufacturers’ representatives. Foreign companies also export directly to end-users.

Selling Factors/Techniques Return to top

Before entering the market, prospective exporters to Australia should evaluate their selling techniques thoroughly to ensure that they are appropriate to the market, and that there is sufficient demand for the product/service in Australia.

Electronic Commerce Return to top

Australian’s are early adopters of high-tech electronic equipment, making the local market attractive for U.S. vendors of IT products and services. Australia provides a robust regulatory framework that facilitates the use of e-commerce platforms.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there were approximately 12, 397,000 active internet subscribers at the end of December 2013. The biggest move in the last two years has been the growth in mobile and fixed wireless connections which account for about 50 percent of all internet connections. Banks, and airlines and were the early developers of mobile applications to encourage e-commerce, but nowadays, many retailers, utilities, and corporations have taken advantage of the almost nation-wide 4G coverage to provide mobile e-commerce solutions for their customers.

Australian Internet Subscribers December 2013

By Millions of subscribers

Broadband 5.842


DSL 4.898

Cable 944

Fixed Wireless 49

Mobile Wireless 6.040

Other 258


Fiber 167

Satellite 98

Total 12.397

Source: Australian Bureau Statistics

As at December 2013, there were 20.3 million cell phone subscribers.

The Australian Government has implemented legislation to protect consumers in an online environment. The Electronic Transactions Act 1999 ensures that a transaction under Commonwealth law will not be invalid because it was conducted through electronic communication. If a Commonwealth law requires information to be put in writing, a handwritten signature, production of documentation, and recording and storing of information, the Electronic Transaction Act provides a means for them to be done electronically. The Privacy Act also places strict guidelines about how companies can collect and use data.

In 2013 it was predicted that e-commerce sales in Australia reached AUD37 Billion. Retailers have adopted a multi-channel approach realizing that they need a mix of online and physical presence to drive sales. For locally purchased goods, a Goods and Service Tax (GST) is levied at 10 percent of the value of the goods. If the goods are purchased from an overseas website and are valued at under AUD1,000, they enter the country GST free. Many U.S. websites have seen a steady stream of business from Australian consumers, as the goods are often (even when freight is added) cheaper than a comparable retailer located in Australia.

Trade Promotion and Advertising Return to top

U.S. companies can promote their products by advertising in established broadcast, print and digital media outlets such as major newspapers, industry magazines, trade association newsletters, and websites. Direct mail campaigns launched from the U.S., without a local Australian presence, generally are not effective as a sole tactic. Companies should take note that households can also be placed on a “Do Not Mail List” that has been growing yearly.

Australia hosts a variety of trade shows and conferences each year. While not as large as some similar events in Asia or Europe, these can provide efficient access to Australian trade and industry buyers. The U.S. Commercial Service Australia organizes U.S. Pavilions at several Australian trade shows to introduce new American suppliers and raise the market profile of existing distributors of U.S. products and technologies.

Pricing Return to top

Australia is a free-enterprise economy and basic market factors of supply and demand apply in product pricing. This competitive market requires that companies be price competitive, expect lower profit margins, and expect sales of minimum quantity. Some factors to consider are:

Selling Costs and Price Competitiveness

Australia has a geographical area similar to that of the continental United States and a population of 23 million - comparable to the population of greater Los Angeles.

In addition to Australian domestic supply, products from all over the world are represented in this sophisticated market, where sellers and end-users alike are all searching for something new. It is important for U.S. companies to adapt their pricing to the local market, which is active and highly-competitive.

To structure their prices competitively, suppliers must consider all the cost elements that imported products have to bear. The key factors are: freight rates; handling charges; import tariffs; goods and services tax (GST); marketing costs, such as advertising and trade promotion; and agent or distributor commissions. U.S. exporters should note that sea freight rates from the U.S. to Australia are high when compared with those from within Asia, and even from Europe. The cost of living is generally higher in Australia, and this is coupled with higher wages.

Volume Buying/Selling and Discount Pricing

Australian wholesalers and retailers traditionally have sought the highest markup the market would absorb, rather than thinking of volume buying or selling. This pattern is changing as open markets and the influx of franchises and other high-volume businesses have alerted the increasingly cost-conscious consumer to competitive discount sales and services. Suppliers need to be able to deliver quality products or services at attractive prices. To compete successfully, exporters should consider granting maximum wholesale discounts, keeping in mind that what may seem to be a small transaction to the U.S. exporter appears as a major order to an Australian buyer.

Most Australian volume importers prefer to deal directly with manufacturers. They believe that it is cheaper to deal with the overseas manufacturer rather than sourcing from overseas distribution houses. Many consumers are making online purchases from the United States to avoid high local prices and the 10 percent GST (only applied on import values exceeding AUD1,000).

Industrial Pricing

Factors of price, quality, reliability, and service support are prime considerations when selling industrial products or capital equipment. While price is certainly a major factor, a purchaser may decide to pay more for a piece of equipment known to be of a better quality and more reliable than a competing product. U.S. exporters must be prepared to negotiate on price or other aspects of the purchase.

In general, Australians are conservative when purchasing capital equipment to upgrade their manufacturing processes. They take time to make purchasing decisions, weighing

Tthe cost of capital equipment carefully against their perceived payoff to increase bottom line profits. If the bottom line does not appear to receive much gain from the purchase, they may simply delay their decision.

Price Controls

As Australia is a free-market economy, there is little formal price control. The national regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (http://www.accc.gov.au) has the power under the Prices Surveillance Act of 1983 and the Trade Practices Act of 1974, to investigate, vet or monitor the prices charged by businesses. These statutory pricing powers, which are designed to make particular businesses or industries publicly accountable for the prices they set, can only be employed where the Federal Government has authorized their use. The ACCC generally uses its pricing powers to examine prices charged by private businesses that hold substantial power in a market. The Commission's use of its inquiry and monitoring powers culminate in a public report and, where necessary, recommendations to the Government.

Sales Service/Customer Support Return to top

Generally, doing business in Australia is straightforward for U.S. exporters when compared with other foreign markets. Culture, language, and business practices are remarkably common. Subtle cultural differences do exist; however, that can either invigorate or undermine a business relationship. In their dealings, both Americans and Australians are wise to take the time and effort to confirm that their perceptions about roles and expectations are consistent with those of their counterparts.

Depending on the product or service to be exported, Australian agents/distributors expect support from their U.S. suppliers, including product warranty for a specified time, training, advertising, and promotion.

Timely delivery of goods, including spare parts, is expected and is rarely a problem, as major U.S. freight forwarders have offices in Australia. Air and sea freight are commonly used. Where necessary, U.S. firms should ensure that their representatives can service the imported equipment or that there are service arrangements in place.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property Return to top

Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Australia:

Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property (“IP”) rights in Australia. First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect your IP. Second, IP may be protected differently in Australia than in the United States. Third, rights must be registered and enforced in Australia, under local laws. For example, your U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect you in Australia. There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends, basically, on the national laws of that country. However, most countries do offer copyright protection to foreign works under certain conditions, and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions.

Granting patents is based on a first-to-file, or first-to-invent, depending on the country, first-in-right basis. Similarly, registering trademarks is based on a first-to-file or first-to-use, depending on the country, first-in-right basis, so you should consider how to obtain patent and trademark protection before introducing your products or services to the Australian market. It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the U.S. government cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Australia. It is the responsibility of the rights' holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Australian law. The U.S. Commercial Service can provide a list of local lawyers upon request.

While the U.S. Government stands ready to assist, there is little we can do if the rights holders have not taken these fundamental steps necessary to securing and enforcing their IP in a timely fashion. Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights on a mistaken belief that the USG can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to legal doctrines such as statutes of limitations, laches, estoppel, or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a law suit. In no instance should U.S. Government advice be seen as a substitute for the responsibility of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case.

It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners. A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights. Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf. Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end. Keep an eye on your cost structure and reduce the margins (and the incentive) of would-be bad actors. Projects and sales in Australia require constant attention. Work with legal counsel familiar with Australian laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses, and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.

It is also recommended that small and medium-size companies understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting. There are a number of these organizations, both Australian and U.S.-based. These include:

  • The U.S. Chamber and local American Chambers of Commerce
  • National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
  • International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
  • International Trademark Association (INTA)
  • The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy
  • International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)

IP Resources

A wealth of information on protecting IP is freely available to U.S. rights holders. Some excellent resources for companies regarding intellectual property include the following:

  • For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues -- including enforcement issues in the US and other countries -- call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or visit www.STOPfakes.gov.
  • For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries), contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199, or visit http://www.uspto.gov/.
  • For more information about registering for copyright protection in the United States, contact the U.S. Copyright Office at: 1-202-707-5959, or visit http://www.copyright.gov/.
  • For more information about how to evaluate, protect, and enforce intellectual property rights and how these rights may be important for businesses, please visit the “Resources” section of the STOPfakes website at http://www.stopfakes.gov/resources.
  • For information on obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights and market-specific IP Toolkits visit: www.stopfakes.gov/businesss-tools/country-ipr-toolkits. The toolkits contain detailed information on protecting and enforcing IP in specific markets and also contain contact information for local IPR offices abroad and U.S. government officials available to assist SMEs.

Due Diligence Return to top

U.S. firms should exercise normal commercial prudence when doing business in the Australian market and are advised to perform due diligence on likely business partners and customers.

The U.S. Commercial Service - Australia provides the International Company Profile (ICP) program, giving useful background information on an Australian firm including financial data, trade references, company size, marketing operations, and a listing of key officers. We can also visit the company premises to interview principals in the Sydney, Canberra, and Perth metropolitan areas.

Another avenue is the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), http://www.asic.gov.au, a government agency that enforces and administers Australia’s

Corporations Law and registers all companies. For a small fee, ASIC can provide you

with a “historical company extract” which will tell how long a company has been in business, whether it is registered, its principal place of business, a list of directors, and details about its share capital. ASIC can also advise on whether any of the directors have been disqualified.

Local Professional Services Return to top

The full range of professional services such as human resources, executive recruitment, legal, financial, and real estate exist in Australia, with a greater choice and concentration in metropolitan centers such as Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, and Brisbane. For the benefit of U.S. exporters, the U.S. Commercial Service - Australia maintains a list of firms known to us on our website under the heading Business Service Providers at: http://export.gov/australia/businessserviceproviders/index.asp

Web Resources Return to top

Australian, The: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au

Australian Bureau of Statistics: http://www.abs.gov.au

Australian Business Register: https://abr.gov.au/ABR_BC/

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission: http://www.accc.gov.au

Australian Direct Marketing Association: http://www.adma.com.au

Australian Financial Review, The: http://www.afr.com.au

Australian Securities and Investment Commission: http://www.asic.gov.au

Australian Taxation Office: http://www.ato.gov.au/

ATO: Business Entry Point: http://www.business.gov.au

Australian Trade Commission: http://www.austrade.gov.au/

Business Review Weekly: http://www.brw.com.au

Canberra Times, The: http://www.canberratimes.com.au

Courier Mail (Brisbane): http://www.couriermail.news.com.au/

FedEx: http://www.fedex.com/us/international

Franchise Council of Australia: http://www.franchise.org.au

IP Australia: http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au

Official Australian Yellow Pages: http://www.yellowpages.com.au

Reed Exhibitions Australia Pty. Ltd.: http://www.reedexpo.com.au

Sydney Morning Herald, The: http://www.smh.com.au

West Australian, The: http://www.thewest.com.au

Return to table of contents

Return to table of contents

Chapter 4: Leading Sectors for U.S. Export and Investment

Commercial Sectors

Agricultural Sectors

Pleasure Craft

Overview Return to top

Unit: USD thousands




2015 (estimated)



Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Data Sources: Industry estimates and analysis.

Australia is as large as the continental US, but with 1/15th the population. More than 90 percent of the 23.4 million Australian population lives on or within 100 km / 60 miles of its extensive coastline (i.e. more than 20 million people). Five million people annually are estimated to enjoy recreational boating in Australia.

Australia has a longer coastline than the United States and it is entirely ice-free. There are an estimated 758 estuaries, rivers and lakes. The climate is warm to hot most of the year and all of its major cities, with the exception of the national capital Canberra, hug the coast. There is a strong focus on water sports and recreation, including recreational fishing. The Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race is one of the iconic events of the Australian summer and Sydney Harbor is one of the most celebrated harbors in the world and home to the largest concentration of pleasure craft in Australia.

Australia boasts many options for use of pleasure craft, from Sydney Harbor to the protected waters inside the Great Barrier Reef to the waters off the south coast of New South Wales, It also enjoys a strong marina community, with those marinas offering 20 or more on-water storage spaces estimated to number 356 in 2010. The total number of marina boat storage spaces including dry-land boat storage was 39,300; the average number of storage spaces per marina was 110; and this storage capacity represented 5 percent of the more than 850,000 registered recreational boats in Australia. Add in the numerous small craft and paddle craft that do not require registration and the number of recreational boats exceeds one million.

Three Australian States have more than 100,000 recreational vessels registered – Queensland (200,000+), New South Wales (200,000+) and Victoria (150,000+).

Australia is the largest export market for U.S.-manufactured pleasure boats outside North America, ranked second only to Canada. U S exports to Australia average USD 200 million+ per annum over the past five years although 2013 did reflect a sizeable reduction in motorboat sales of approx. 30% and a smaller reduction in yacht sales of approx. 18%. Sales are expected to hold at current levels or fall slightly as key sectors of the Australian economy notably mining and automobile manufacturing – shed employees. Longer term prospects remain solid – population is fast growing; GDP per capita and median wealth remain near top of world tables; and new trade agreements with Asia point to accelerated economic growth. However, the falling value of the Australian dollar has made US imports more expensive, particularly since the second half of 2014.

Bottom line - Australians love the coastal lifestyle and adults enjoy the highest median wealth in the world, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2013. This is reflected in widespread boat ownership which ranges from basic aluminium hulled ‘tinnies’ through to large yachts and luxury powered vessels.

Australia’s recreational marine industry is a significant factor in the national tourism sector, accounting for more than 10 percent of overnight stays and with a 4.3% share of Australia’s total day trip market [2011]. The recreational boating industry generates more than USD 12 billion in spending attributable to operations, including industry turnover and net additional tourism spending. That includes direct industry revenues of over USD 7 billion nationally, including over one billion dollars in export sales.

Australian Marine Industry

Australia also has a substantial boat-building and shipbuilding sector, including companies like Austal which has invested substantially in US shipbuilding facilities, employing over 3,000 people at its Mobile Alabama facility and announcing in March 2012 a further USD 160 million investment to upgrade its facilities.

The Australian marine industry includes ship and boat building and repair, marine equipment manufacturing, and marina operations.  The industry is a major contributor to the economy, worth $8 billion a year and generating direct employment of around 22,000 people. Australia’s marine industry export sector is innovative and covers a broad range of products and services. Australia is a world leader in the design of large, high-speed, multi-hull aluminum vessels.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects Return to top

  • Motorboats – largest sales category
  • Yachts – 2nd largest sales category
  • Outboard engines – 3rd largest sales category
  • Marina (including chandlery) supplies – growing marina community of 350+

Opportunities Return to top

Key marine industry conference and trade expo in 2015 was Marine15, May 3 – 6, 2015.


There are numerous boat shows staged around Australia. The biggest and best known are the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show May 19 – 22, 2016 http://www.sanctuarycoveboatshow.com.au/ which has been described as the largest on-water display in the entire Asia-Pacific region;

and the Sydney International Boat Show which will be next held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre July 30 – August 3, 2015 http://www.sydneyboatshow.com.au/ . A 2015 calendar of major boating shows owned, managed and presented by the Boating Industry Association can be found at http://www.boatshows.com.au/

Web Resources Return to top

Australian Shipbuilders Association www.shipbuilders.com.au

Australian International Marine Export Group www.aimex.asn.au

Boating Industries Alliance Australia www.biaa.com.au

Calendar of boat shows www.boatshows.com.au

Marine15 conference www.marine15.com

Marina Industries Association www.marinas.net.au

Sanctuary Cove Int’l Boat Show www.sanctuarycoveboatshow.com.au

Sydney International Boat Show www.sydneyboatshow.com.au

Superyacht Australia www.superyacht-australia.com

Aircraft and Parts

Overview Return to top

Unit: USD thousands




2015 (estimated)



Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Data Sources: Industry estimates and analysis.

The Australian aerospace and aviation industry is a significant market for U.S. exporters, and is the 15th largest export market for U.S. aircraft and parts [2014]. The US is the leading source of imported aircraft and parts, supplying almost half of Australia’s needs. Australia is closely connected with U.S. standards, suppliers, parts, and finished aircraft. U.S.-manufactured aircraft represents a sizeable proportion of the registered aircraft in Australia, ensuring a steady market for spares, accessories, and service. Other registered aircraft are manufactured in Australia, Germany, the U.K., and France. The Australian Civil Aviation Authority’s acceptance of FAA certification standards strengthens the relationship between American aircraft and parts exporters and their Australian counterparts.

The Australian aerospace and aviation industry is a mix of small and medium enterprise (SME) subsidiaries that supply parts, engineering services, and expertise. Local firms specialize in repair, maintenance, airframe component manufacturing, airport systems, infrastructure, avionics, aero engine, and engine component manufacturing. A select group of specialists carries out commercial aircraft maintenance.

There are 15,219 aircraft on Australia’s civil aviation register of which 11,520 are powered aircraft; 2089 are helicopters; 1,229 are gliders; and 381 lighter than air. There are over 700 design, maintenance, maintenance training, parts manufacturing and parts distribution organizations. Australia is a primary market in the Asia Pacific region and a major distribution point for the region, offering opportunities for suppliers of quality aerospace products and services.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects Return to top

  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s)
  • Aerial agriculture
  • Parts, repairs and maintenance
  • QANTAS fleet upgrade

Australia has a large civil helicopter fleet exceeding 2,000, ranking 6th worldwide and equivalent to about ¾ that of Canada. When added to New Zealand’s fleet of about 900, the regional fleet of 3,000 ranks in the top 3 internationally. Helicopters are well suited to supporting remote oil, gas and mining projects as well as island tourist resorts, aeromedical and rescue services, and large agricultural properties. However, growth in the helicopter fleet has largely ended after a decade of expansion.

Opportunities Return to top

Over the next ten years QANTAS has committed to about AUD 17 billion for more fuel efficient, next generation aircraft such as the Airbus 380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The commercial airline market sources major equipment directly from manufacturers and prefers to obtain OEM spares from approved suppliers.

In Australia, Qantas leads the field in commercial aviation, followed by Virgin Australia. Opportunities in the aviation market include a range of products from avionics to ground support equipment. Best prospects remain in parts and components supplies for aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul of U.S.-manufactured airplanes.

Web Resources Return to top

Rotortech 2016

TBA May 2016

Sunshine Coast, Queensland

http://www.austhia.com/download/events/index.php?loc=./Rotortech 2014

Largest helicopter event in Southern Hemisphere.

Australian Airports Association National Conference and Exhibition

October 12 – 16, 2015,

Hobart, Tasmania https://www.airports.asn.au/public/events/national-conference

Leading aviation conference/exhibition in Asia Pacific.

Australian International Airshow

February 24 - March 1, 2015, Geelong, Victoria http://www.airshow.com.au

Next show will occur in early 2017

Largest air show in the Southern Hemisphere. Biennial - alternates with Singapore Air Show

Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia Ltd http://www.aerialag.com.au/

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of

Australia http://www.aopa.com.au/

Airservices Australia http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/

Australian Airports Association http://airports.asn.au/

Australian Helicopter Industry Association http://www.austhia.com/

Aviation/Aerospace Australia http://www.aviationaerospace.org.au/

Aviation Maintenance Repair and

Overhaul Business Association Inc http://amroba.org.au/

Civil Aviation Safety Authority http://www.casa.gov.au/

QANTAS http://www.qantas.com.au/

Recreational Aviation Australia http://www.raa.asn.au/

Regional Aviation Association of Australia http://www.raaa.com.au/

Space Industry Association of Australia http://www.spaceindustry.com.au/

Agricultural Machinery

Overview Return to top

Unit: USD thousands




2015 (estimated)



Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Data Sources: Industry estimates and analysis.

Australia is the largest export market for U.S.-manufactured agricultural equipment outside North America. In a trading environment of declining exports of U.S.-made agricultural equipment, exports to Australia have continued to fall from an all-time peak in 2012. The U.S. Association of Equipment Manufacturers records exports to Australia peaking at USD 1.2 billion in 2012; falling a third to USD 822 million in 2013; and falling again to USD 640 million in 2014 – a 22 percent decline. On these AEM figures, in the space of two years, US exports halved. There is a strong correlation between this decline and falling exports of combine harvesters.

Agricultural equipment is sold via a steadily decreasing network of dealers estimated to number 604 in 2013. Of these, 59 or 354 are part of groups with two or more outlets. Distribution channels are much more concentrated than in past years (there were 2,500 dealers in the late 1990s). Single dealerships once predominated but no longer; and overseas dealers are moving into the market. Combine harvester sales led the strong growth up to 2012 and the subsequent decline, falling from 1,200 in 2012 to 600 in 2014.

End-users are drawn from about 134,000 commercial farms in Australia generating gross farm production in 2009 - 2010 of UAD 48.7 billion. Of this total, around 60 percent or AUD 32.5 billion was exported. Fisheries, forestry and other agriculture lifted that export figure to AUD 36.2 billion. Major farm exports in 2010 - 2011 in billions AUD were wheat (5.5), beef and veal (4.3), wool (2.4) and wine (2.0) and dairy (1.6).

Measurable sales of new agricultural machinery in 2012 (most recent available) exceeded 1.8 billion AUD but that figure was estimated (by Australian agribusiness data reporting and analysis company Agriview Pty Ltd.) to double to AUD 3.6 billion when other new products, used machinery and parts and service were included. As economic conditions have got more difficult and new equipment sales fallen, stock of used equipment has risen noticeably. This has created a large pool of competitively-priced, relatively new equipment at the same time as Australian purchasing power defined by the AUD:USD exchange rate has declined 25 percent in the past year. Record equipment sales in 2011 and 2012 meant that a downturn was expected. However it was not as severe as expected. Other segments of the agricultural equipment sector have held up rather well, including tractors generally. Some equipment types – small horsepower tractors, hay balers and tillage equipment have actually grown. However, these are areas where non-U.S. suppliers tend to have a higher market share.

Tractor sales across Australia in 2014 reached 10,403 units – just 155 fewer than 2013. Small models, those under 40 horsepower, increased by 4 percent to 2,688 units. Baler sales lifted 24 percent to 771 units, the best result since 2009. On a regional basis, Victoria increased tractor sales by nearly 14 percent and Western Australia by 9 percent, but other states registered declines.

Agricultural robots will be operating on large-scale Australian farms within five years, according to the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, the largest field robotics and intelligent systems group in the world. Robots are forecast to monitor crop conditions, stock location and welfare, animal tracking, weed and pest maintenance, and harvest tree crops and vegetables. UAVs are already in use.

In terms of agricultural activities driving equipment purchases, key industries to watch are cotton, dairy, stockfeed, and nuts.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects Return to top

  • Small horsepower tractors
  • UAVs
  • Irrigation equipment
  • Dairy industry needs

Opportunities Return to top

A key avenue for promoting and selling equipment is to exhibit at field days [agricultural machinery shows] events. A listing is available online at www.afdj.com.au

A detailed profile of Australian agriculture is available online as NFF Farm Facts 2012. This was prepared by the National Farmers Federation (NFF), an industry organization.


The Australian Government is actively supporting a role for Australia as the ”food bowl of Asia.”’ It has recently secured free trade agreements with South Korea, Japan, and China. Australia is a partner in the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and is also separately pursuing a free trade agreement with India.

Northern Australia is being considered for large scale agricultural expansion, requiring major investment in infrastructure including water storage and distribution, as well as on-farm equipment needs. The Australian Government is progressing its plans under a ‘White Paper’ process and has begun announcing specific initiatives to grow business investment in this large region. https://northernaustralia.dpmc.gov.au/

Web Resources Return to top

Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper

– submissions http://agriculturalcompetitiveness.dpmc.gov.au/published-submissions

Ass’n of Agricultural Field Days of Australasia www.aafda.com.au

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and

Resource Economics and Science (ABARES) www.daff.gov.au/abares

Dairy Australia www.dairyaustralia.com.au

Department of Agriculture www.daff.gov.au

FarmOnline (rural news) www.farmonline.com.au

Farmyard (field days directory) www.farmyard.net.au

Irrigation Australia (industry association) www.irrigation.org.au

National Farmers Federation (industry association) www.nff.org.au

Tractor and Machinery Association www.tma.asn.au

Medical Equipment

Overview Return to top

Unit: USD thousands




2015 (estimated)



Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Data Sources:

Total Local Production: Industry estimates.

Total Exports: Global Trade Atlas

Total Imports: Global Trade Atlas

Imports from U.S.: Global Trade Atlas

Australia is the 8th largest export market for U.S. manufacturers of medical technology products. Australia is a mature market for medical technology and there is demand for the full range of sophisticated medical equipment. The Australian population generally expects a high standard of medical treatment and there is a continuing need for state-of-the-art, high quality medical products.

In 2012 - 2013, the Australian medical technology industry had a turnover of approximately USD9.5 billion (including dental equipment). The Australian market for medical technology represents a little less than two percent of the global market. Most of the medical equipment used in Australia is imported. The four major suppliers are the United States, the European Union, China and Japan. Australia’s spending on healthcare is approximately 9.4 percent of GDP, similar to the United Kingdom and Norway, but less than the United States (17 percent).

The Australian medical technology industry, which includes medical devices, diagnostics and imaging equipment, is comprised of a diverse range of manufacturers and suppliers from emerging Australian companies to global companies. Many of the major U.S. manufacturers have local representation or subsidiaries in Australia. These companies include Bard, Baxter Healthcare, Boston Scientific, Cook Medical, Johnson & Johnson Medical, Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, Stryker, and Zimmer. Large multinational firms dominate the Australian market. Small to medium-sized importers and distributors comprise the remainder of the industry.

Health provisions and funding comes from the public and private sectors. With Australia’s government-funded healthcare scheme, the Government is the primary purchaser of medical equipment. The Federal and State governments fund approximately 69 percent of healthcare spending. The private sector funds the remaining 31 percent. Depending upon the type of products, public hospitals generally account for approximately 70 percent of purchases of medical equipment, with the remaining 30 percent from the private sector. The Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) reports that approximately 50 percent of sales are to the public sector and 50 percent to the private sector.

Information for state government tenders for the three largest states in Australia (New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland) is available at:




The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates the medical equipment industry. Australia’s regulatory framework is based on Global Harmonization Task Force (GHTF) and European Community guidelines. U.S. exporters must appoint an Australian representative/sponsor to obtain regulatory approval from the TGA. U.S.-manufactured medical devices require an EC Certificate from a European Union Notified Body. Alternatively, U.S. manufacturers can apply to the TGA for a Conformity Assessment Certificate.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects Return to top

The medical technology industry has consistently provided good prospects for U.S. exporters. U.S. medical technology is traditionally well received in Australia due to its perceived high quality. The market is sophisticated, mature, and quick to adopt new healthcare technologies. Importers seek to obtain cost-effective and innovative products that will improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

Prices and volumes are influenced by government healthcare policies and provisions of public healthcare services. Products that serve Australia’s ageing population are likely to experience growth. Diseases and illnesses for which incidence and prevalence rates are projected to increase include diabetes, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), ischaemic (coronary) heart disease, lung cancer, and musculoskeletal disorders.

Opportunities Return to top

There is a growing demand for healthcare in Australia. With continuing advances in medical technology, the demand for medical products and healthcare services is expected to grow for all age groups. Demand is also expected to increase as Australia’s ageing population increasingly released on the health system for care. Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people aged 65 to 84 is expected to more than double and those aged 85 and over will more than quadruple.

Web Resources Return to top

Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA): http://www.tga.gov.au

Australian Department of Health and Ageing: http://www.health.gov.au/

Medical Technology Association of Australia: http://www.mtaa.org.au

Information Technology Services

Overview Return to top

Unit: USD thousands




2015 (estimated)



Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Data Sources: Industry estimates

The Australian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) market is valued at approximately USD90 billion. The information technology (IT) services industry accounts for approximately one third of the total IT market and is valued at nearly USD13 billion. The Australian ICT market is mature with a large number of multinational technology companies active in the local market. Australia has a relatively large middle class population that is technologically savvy.

In terms of ICT services, the Australian Federal Government is the largest public sector user of IT services and solutions. Key clients include: Department of Defense, Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink/Medicare/Department of Humans Affairs, Veterans Affairs, and Australian Customs.

In the private sector the major users of IT services include: finance, insurance, retail, transport, mining, telecommunications, and media sectors. Australian financial service and insurance firms have significant IT budgets.

The Australian IT services market is tipped to record steady growth over the next 18 months. The top 300 Australian companies all rely to some degree on outsourced services to deliver business efficiencies. As businesses strive to maintain a competitive edge, and budgets are increased, the amount of outsourced service work is set to grow in the private sector.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects Return to top

Research group Frost and Sullivan has reported that the Australian cloud market is valued at USD2 billion, and is set to grow by 40 percent annually to reach USD3.3 billion by 2016. Data privacy and data location is still a major issue for both government and private organizations. Many U.S. vendors have built local data centers to accommodate the privacy requirements of Australian customers.

The provision of security solutions and technologies shows no sign of abating, especially given the federal government’s commitment to ensuring that critical infrastructure is not compromised. We predict that the demand for security solutions will grow steadily over the next 12 months.

Opportunities Return to top

Opportunities still exist providing services and solutions to build out the National Broadband Network (NBN), which incorporates a suite of technologies; FttH, Fiber-to-the-Node, Fixed Wireless Broadband, and Satellite.

Opportunities exist for U.S. vendors of accelerated DSL, fixed wireless, and FttH solutions to serve the NBN project.

In addition, good opportunities exist for U.S. IT service companies providing enterprise-level cloud solutions and services to the federal government.

Thanks to the U.S. Australian Free Trade Agreement, there are no tariffs on the importation of software. A goods and service tax (GST) is levied on the landed value of goods imported into Australia. GST is also applicable to services that are carried out in Australia.

Web Resources Return to top

Australian Information Industry Association: http://www.aiia.com.au

Australian Reseller News: http://www.Arnnet.com.au

CIO: http://www.cio.com.au

National Broadband Network (NBN Co): http://www.nbnco.com.au


Overview Return to top

Number of Australian Travelers to the United States:




2015 (estimated)



Total Arrivals





Percentage Change %





Australians are traveling to the United States in record numbers. The United States ranks as the number one, long-haul travel destination for Australians. In 2013, 1.21 million Australians visited the United States and spent a record $6.1 billion. 2014 saw six percent growth with 1.28 million Australians visiting the United States.

Australian travel to the United States has seen 10 straight years of growth and record arrivals. Few international inbound markets have this record of growth. It is forecast that between 2013 - 2019 Australian travel to the United States will grow by 25 percent, and the United States will welcome 1.5 million Australians in 2019.

Australians are generally characterized by long stays and high spending, and travel to the U.S. throughout the year. The most popular months are between April – September , and December. Eighty-five percent of Australian visitors to the United States travel for pleasure and sixty-two percent are repeat travelers. The long distance for Australians traveling to the U.S. is reflected in their relatively long periods of stay. The average length of stay for Australians in the United States is 20 days, the second-longest out of the top 10 inbound markets, and higher than the average for all overseas visitors (17 days).

Australians, on average, visit 2.2 states. No other inbound market has multiple state visitation levels as high as Australia (the average is 1.5). Factors fueling demand include strong interest and desire to travel to the United States, increased air capacity, and competitive airfares. The most popular activities for Australian visitors include shopping, sightseeing, visiting national parks & monuments, taking guided tours, visiting historical locations, experiencing fine dining, visiting small towns and the countryside, visiting art galleries & museums, visiting amusement & theme parks, and attending concerts, plays & musicals.

Travel agents and tour operators are an important source of information and a key channel for making bookings. Consumer media is influential in stimulating interest and many of the major local newspapers and magazines publish weekly and monthly travel articles on the United States.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects Return to top

Best prospect sectors include self-drive holidays, skiing, baby boomer travel, youth travel, adventure travel, shopping, cruising, and sporting holidays.

Opportunities Return to top

The annual Visit USA Expos organized by the Visit USA Organization (Australia) is one of the largest events in the local travel industry’s calendar and the key event for promoting tourism to the United States to the travel trade. Over 1,000 travel agents in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane attend the expos to meet with U.S. destinations and suppliers. A travel media lunch and B2B session is also organized in conjunction with the expos. The 2016 expos will take place February 15 – 19th.

Website: www.visitusa.org.au

Web Resources Return to top

Office of Travel and Tourism Industries: http://www.tinet.ita.doc.gov

Smart Grid

Overview Return to top

Unit: USD thousands




2015 (estimated)



Total Market Size





Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Exchange Rate: 1 USD





Total Market Size = (Total Local Production + Total Imports) – (Total Exports)

Data Sources: Industry estimates.

Since 2010, and for the first time in the last 100 years, Australia’s electricity demand continued to fall creating a surplus in generation capacity and dampening wholesale prices. The removal of carbon pricing in 2014 also placed downward pressure on wholesale prices, but reversed a trend of declining carbon emissions from electricity generation. The other major renewable energy policy driver is the Renewable Energy Target (RET) but at the time of writing the RET was under review.

Reduced demand, lower capital financing expenses and more flexible arrangements for electricity network businesses to meet reliability requirements are removing some of the previous drivers behind network expansions and investment. The Australian Energy Market Operator has projected that no region within the National Electricity Market will require additional capacity to maintain supply–demand adequacy for the next 10 years.

Rising costs associated with using energy networks was until 2012 a major contributing factor to rising energy retail prices. Costs rose to replace ageing assets, meet stricter reliability standards, and respond to peak demand forecasts. These pressures have eased lowering investment requirements for energy networks.

Nevertheless, electricity prices, per capita consumption, and operational costs in Australia are still relatively high by world standards. While significant costs around replacing assets have fallen, we are expecting to see investment redirected towards creating efficiencies and reliability within distribution and transmission networks.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects Return to top

Differences in the timing of commercial and residential peaks combined with the growing penetration of rooftop solar PV has created network voltage and stability issues that utilities are seeking to address.

Although this has become less of a problem, given that demand consumption has declined there is still concern over peak demand created by air conditioning units. There currently is no common interface between AC and the consumer.

Western Australia has installed thousands of smart meters but the largest mandatory rollout was in Victoria to approximately four million customers. Opportunities now exist in other states that at various stages of smart meter rollouts.

IT investment around security and cloud computing is also an emerging opportunity as the need for data integration becomes more and more critical to operational efficiencies.

Opportunities Return to top

Australia has a number of different grids and not all are interconnected. The largest grid is the National Electricity Market (NEM) in Eastern and Southern Australia. It is made up of five state-based transmission networks covering Queensland, New South Wales (NSW), the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania.

The NEM has 13 major electricity distribution networks. Queensland, NSW, and Victoria each have multiple networks that are monopoly providers in designated areas. The ACT, South Australia, and Tasmania each have one major network. Some jurisdictions also have small regional networks with separate ownership. The total length of distribution infrastructure in the NEM is around 735,000 kilometers, which is 17 times longer than transmission infrastructure.

The Queensland, NSW and Tasmanian networks are all government owned. The ACT distribution network has joint government and private ownership. All transmission networks in Victoria and South Australia, and three interconnectors are privately owned. Victoria’s five distribution networks are also privately owned, while the South Australian distribution network is leased to private interests.

Smart Grid technology and solution vendors will typically seek to connect with these transmission and distribution utilities.

Web Resources Return to top

Australian Energy Regulator – State of the Energy Market Report


Smart Grid Australia


Agricultural Sectors Return to top


As educated, affluent consumers, Australians are willing to try new products. The population has absorbed a growing number of newly arrived immigrants from all over the world who bring with them diverse dietary tastes. In addition, foreign travel is relatively common, especially by the generation now entering the work force, and these consumers have broadened their culinary horizons.

Australian demographics are similar to those in the United States, with a large number of two-income families and the consequent need for more processed and consumer-ready foods. Australian consumers are oriented toward the same factors that many U.S. consumers seek - freshness, wholesomeness, and healthy lifestyles. To a large extent they are prepared to pay extra for them.

Given Australia's large agricultural base, market prospects for U.S. food products are best in areas drawing on innovative products, economies of scale, and the U.S. position as a counter-seasonal supplier of fresh product (for information on food export restrictions into Australia, see Chapter 5). According to Global Trade Atlas data, Australian imports of U.S. food, forestry and fishery products in CY 2014 were valued at over USD1.53 billion. The nature of agricultural products imported from the United States to Australia consists mainly of consumer-oriented and intermediate food products (USD1.18 billion and USD170 million respectively in CY 2014). The U.S. is the 2nd largest supplier of consumer oriented food products to the Australian market.

The United States faces stiff competition in this market from New Zealand, European and Canadian suppliers, as well as from specialty suppliers in other Asian countries. Domestic production is also well established and growing in product lines. Foreign investment in the Australian food sector is substantial, with many large multinational companies participating.

Best Product Prospects

The organic, healthy and natural products market in Australia continues to grow rapidly. Although Australia is a large producer of organic raw products, it does not have the manufacturing capacity to satisfy demand for the processed segment. Prospects are excellent for organic and natural ingredients as well as consumer-ready processed foods and beverages.

  • The health foods category increased in value by 14.2% in 2014 and was valued at AUD394 million. Nutritional snacks account for the largest share (19%) of the health foods category rising in value by almost 10% over the previous year to be valued at AUD75.4 million.

  • In the cold beverages category, the non-sweetened waters and still water segments both showed double-digits growth in 2014 with to be valued at AUD399 million and AUD371million respectively. Functional waters grew by 54.6% to be valued at AUD39.5 million. Sports drinks also showed double-digit growth (14%) with grocery sales now valued at AUD147.7 million. In 2014 coconut water showed phenomenal growth (over 150%) in both value & volume with the value of sales reaching AUD25.5 million.

To view individual commodity reports produced by the Foreign Agricultural Service please go to the following website: http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Lists/Advanced%20Search/AllItems.aspx.

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Return to table of contents

Chapter 5: Trade Regulations, Customs and Standards

Import Tariffs Return to top

The U.S. - Australia Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA)

The Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Australia (AUSFTA) came into effect on January 1, 2005. AUSFTA eliminated import tariffs on 99 percent of U.S. manufactured industrial and consumer goods, and 100 percent of U.S. agricultural products. This has continued to create export opportunities for U.S. manufacturers and farmers. Tariffs on non-U.S. products average 5 percent or less, with a few exceptions, such as motor vehicles, clothing, and footwear.

Rules of Origin

Goods are classified according to the Harmonized System (HS) for the purposes of tariff categorization. To be eligible for preferential tariff treatment under AUSFTA, products must originate in the United States, that is, be wholly obtained or produced in the United States, or produced in the United States wholly from other originating materials from either Australia or the United States. Goods may also be produced in the United States partly from non-originating materials. The non-originating materials must meet the requirements of rules of origin, which determine the level of source content, and/or the sort of physical transformation required in the production process for the goods. Before claiming preference, local importers are required to ensure that the goods meet the required rules of origin. Australian importers, U.S. exporters, and U.S. producers of goods may obtain advance rulings from Australian Customs regarding importations of goods into Australia. Customs will provide written advice on origin matters through the provision of an Origin Advice (OA). The OA exists to advise Australian importers, U.S. exporters, and U.S. producers on specific issues relating to the origin of their goods for the purposes of determining eligibility for preferential duty rates for goods that Australia imports.

Australian Customs Manual Volume 8C, Division 10, contains information on how Customs administers AUSFTA. This manual is available on the Customs website, http://www.customs.gov.au

Non-Tariff Barriers

In addition to the elimination of tariffs, AUSFTA provides a range of other benefits such as: certain services markets are now open, intellectual property receives better protection, predictable access facilitates investments, and U.S. firms can compete in Australia for government tenders on a nondiscriminatory basis. Some of these relaxations have not yet come into effect. Until such time, existing barriers to a free flow of trade will remain. The agreement does not exclude provisions for local broadcasting content and local content in major defense contracts. The full text of the AUSFTA is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, http://www.dfat.gov.au/fta/ausfta/final-text/index.html.

Trade Barriers Return to top


The Australian Department of Agriculture (DoA) (http://www.agriculture.gov.au) is the federal body responsible for enforcing Australia’s quarantine regulations, including issuing permits and inspecting shipments.

Australia is a signatory to the WTO “Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures” (April 15, 1994). However, U.S. exporters may find it difficult to comply with Australia’s import quarantine requirements. Aside from issues relating to the importation of food and animals, quarantine measures cover a number of other imported products such as farm, mining, and construction machinery, some packaging goods, and other products that may pose a contamination risk to Australia’s agricultural industry or natural environment.

The Australian government enforces its quarantine measures very seriously. Importers have little recourse once a shipment encounters quarantine issues.

Machinery imports may require an import permit. It is a condition of the permit that machinery arrives in a ”clean” (refers to “clean as new”) or new state. Australian importers should contact DoA to determine if they need an import permit. Note: The classification of machinery as 'new' and 'agricultural' is at the Department’s discretion. For quarantine purposes, new field-tested equipment is classified as ‘used machinery,’ and will require an Import Permit. The Department has the power to re-export contaminated machinery. More detailed information relating to the import of machinery can be found at: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/vehicles-machinery.

Packaging of imported goods presents a challenge to U.S. exporters, particularly where the packing materials include wood or other natural products. Detailed information on compliance requirements can be found at: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/timber.

For complete information on products that need to comply with Australia’s quarantine regulations, U.S. exporters should check the requirements on the Department’s import conditions (ICON) database at: http://apps.daff.gov.au/icon32/asp/ex_querycontent.asp.

Import Requirements and Documentation Return to top

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has sole jurisdiction to clear imports. Local importers are responsible for obtaining formal Customs clearance for goods.

While there are several methods of valuing goods for Customs purposes, the method most frequently applied (transaction value) is based on the price actually paid (or payable) for the imported goods subject to certain adjustments. A major condition for using the transaction value is that there is no relationship between the buyer and seller that may influence the price. Valuation of imported goods can be complex and importers are urged to seek advice from a customs broker or to contact a Customs Information Centre. The Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia posts a list of members at: http://www.cbfca.com.au/MembersDirectory.aspx

Goods entering Australia may incur duty, Goods and Services Tax (GST), and/or additional charges. Customs duty rates vary and depend on a number of factors, such as type of goods and country of origin. As stated above, 99 percent of U.S.-origin goods enter Australia duty free. The importer is still responsible for applicable GST payments. (see below.)

Customs does not require companies or individuals to hold import licenses, but importers may need to obtain permits to clear the goods. Further information on permits is contained in the Prohibited and Restricted Imports section at: http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4369.asp

The minimum amount of documentation required for Customs clearance comprises a completed Customs Entry or Informal Clearance Document (ICD), an air waybill (AWB) or bill of lading (BLAD), as well as invoices and other documents relating to the importation. Customs does not require the completion of a special form of invoice. Normal commercial invoices, bills of lading, and receipts are acceptable. These documents should contain the following information:

  • invoice terms (e.g., FOB, CIF)
  • name and address of the seller of the goods (Consignor)
  • monetary unit referred to on invoice (e.g. AUD, USD)
  • country of origin

Some authorities that issue import permits publish brochures / pamphlets that explain their areas of concern. However, these agency publications may not always reflect current Customs legislation and procedures as they are often modified. It would be advisable to contact a Customs Information Center to check these issues.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

The liability to pay a 10 percent GST for imports rests with the importer. Payment of GST may not be required for temporary importation of goods. Imported, second-hand goods are treated the same way as any taxable goods and are therefore subject to GST. Under the GST, the amount paid or payable for international transport and insurance is also added to the taxable importation value. Further information on GST can be found on the Australian Tax Office website: https://www.ato.gov.au/business/gst/

Chemical Import Requirements

There are several agencies that deal with importing chemicals to Australia, depending upon the proposed end-use of those chemicals or compounds. The primary agency responsible for chemical imports is the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) - http://www.nicnas.gov.au

Other agencies involved in regulating chemical imports include:

The Australian importer is responsible for notifying the relevant agency of the chemical it is importing to Australia. The Australian importer may be a local subsidiary of a U.S. firm, an agent, or an end-user. The importer usually completes the required paperwork.

Given the high level of regulation, U.S. exporters should find Australian agents or importers familiar with requirements. NICNAS provides some guidance on the regulation of chemicals in the following brochure: http://www.nicnas.gov.au/Industry/Compliance/Compliance_Simple_Guide_PDF.pdf

U.S. exporters may also need to ensure that products comply with the Australian Dangerous Goods Code requirements, which are based upon international standards. State-based government health and safety agencies enforce these codes. The codes differ slightly from state-to-state. The following link provides access to the specific state agencies: http://www.emplan.com.au/dangerous-goods/dangerous-goods.htm

U.S. Export Controls Return to top

Australia is an active member of the major international arms control treaties and all international export control regimes that seek to monitor and control the global movement of goods and technologies applicable for use in military or weapons of mass destruction programs. This includes items developed either specifically for defense purposes or for civil application that can be adapted for use in arms programs, also referred to as dual-use goods.

A national export control system is the mechanism for ensuring that Australia upholds its international obligations, whilst also maintaining the integrity of its national interests. Australia controls the export of defense and dual-use goods through a comprehensive licensing system established under the Customs Act 1901 and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995 (WMD Act) and associated regulations.

The Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 regulates the export of certain goods and technologies, with Regulation 13E providing for the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL). 

The Australian Department of Defence is responsible for administering controls on the export of defense and dual-use goods, and the granting of authorizations to export, in the form of permits and licenses. Within the Department of Defence, this role is done by the Defence Export Control Office (DECO).


Further information on the list of regulated goods and technology that cannot be exported from Australia without a license and the procedures for seeking export permission may be found on the DECO website http://www.defence.gov.au/deco/


The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service is responsible for border control. Cargo may not leave Australian points of departure without an Export Declaration Number (EDN). Australian Customs issues EDN, based on export data logged by exporters, and checks them electronically against required permits and licenses.

Additional Information:

The Defence Trade Control Act 2012 (the Act) received Royal Assent on 13 November 2012, putting in place new measures to control the transfer of defence and strategic goods technologies and bringing Australia into line with international best practice. The Act implements the Australia-United States Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty and strengthens Australia’s export controls for defense and dual-use goods.

The Act is subject to a two year transition period commencing 16 May 2013 with the exchange of diplomatic notes between the Australian Minister for Defence and the U.S. Ambassador to Australia to bring the Australia-United States Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty into force. At the end of this transition period individuals or organisations will need to seek permission to supply controlled technology to an entity outside Australia.

The Treaty removes the requirement for individual licenses to be obtained for each export, and allows for the license-free movement of eligible defense articles within the Approved Australian and U.S. Communities.

The Customs Amendment (Military End-use) Act 2012 also introduced a power to prohibit the export of "non-regulated" goods that may contribute to a military end-use that may prejudice Australia’s security, defense or international relations.

A list that consolidates eleven export screening lists of the Departments of Commerce, State and the Treasury into a single search as an aid to industry in conducting electronic screens of potential parties to regulated transactions is available here: http://developer.trade.gov/consolidated-screening-list.html.

Temporary Entry Return to top

Goods may be brought into Australia on a temporary basis without the payment of duty or taxes for of up to twelve months. These goods, referred to as Temporary Imports, are considered temporary according to sections of the Australian Customs Act, or because of entry under a ”carnet.” All temporary imports must be re-exported within the period approved by Customs. The nature of the goods, what they will be used for while they are in Australia, and who is importing them will determine the provisions for which the goods may be eligible. Australia accepts two types of carnets, ATA and CPD carnets (more commonly known as FIA/AIT carnets).

The provisions cover temporary importation of goods owned by tourists and temporary residents. The provisions also include categories such as traveler's samples and goods imported for display at trade fairs. Goods under the provisions of certain international agreements to which Australia has acceded are also eligible for admission. This information can be found in the Australian Treaties Library at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/

Copies of normal commercial import documents such as invoices, packing lists, bills of lading or airway bills, quarantine certificates, and other shipping papers should be lodged with the application for temporary entry. Evidence of intended use of the goods should also be included in accordance with the relevant Customs Convention(s).

Labeling and Marking Requirements Return to top

U.S. suppliers should be aware of Australia’s rules and procedures regulating the packaging, labeling, ingredients, marketing and sale of specific products, and of general weights and measures.

In general, goods imported in the packages in which they are customarily sold or offered for sale need to be marked with a true description of the goods and the country in which the goods were made. The trade description needs to be applied to the packages in prominent and legible characters. Any additional information applied and/or labeled on the packages must be true and may not contradict or obscure the information required as part of the trade description.

The quantity of a commodity sold in a package must be truly stated on the main display panel of the package, in units of the metric system. The word “net” should always be used when expressing quantity in mass.

The joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code requires all packaged food to be labeled with nutritional information on how much fat, protein, energy, carbohydrates, and salt is in the product. Labels must also show the percentage of key ingredients and all of the main ingredients that may cause allergies.

Detailed guidance on Australia’s food labeling requirements is available in the Food & Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) report from the Office of Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Embassy, Canberra. This report is updated each year and a copy of the latest FAIRS report is available on the following website: http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Lists/Advanced%20Search/AllItems.aspx (search for FAIRS Country Report). Information on the Food Standards Code (including a nutritional panel example and calculator) can also be viewed on the website of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ): http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/.

U.S. exporters should work with their Australian importer to ensure that their products comply with Australian Federal and State Government labeling regulations before shipping any product.

Prohibited and Restricted Imports Return to top

Australia has stringent prohibitions and quarantines against a number of products, particularly those considered to be of potential public danger and agricultural products that are considered to have the potential to introduce pests or disease (see section below). Restricted items include drugs, steroids, weapons/firearms, heritage items, food, plants and animals, and protected wildlife. It is important to note that while some items may be imported, their use may be prohibited under individual State laws.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Restrictions Affecting Imports

Australia has very strict sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions affecting imports of fresh fruit and vegetables and imports of meat and poultry products. Under Australia’s quarantine and inspection process, foreign-grown agricultural commodities must undergo an import risk analysis (IRA) process before they can enter the country. An IRA to determine how and if the risk can be managed will take a minimum of two years to complete. Australia’s “acceptable level of protection” is considered extremely restrictive, making access to the Australian market often difficult, expensive, time-consuming, and in some cases virtually impossible.

All fresh produce usually needs an Australian import permit and a U.S. phytosanitary certificate. The import permit can be requested (by the importer) from the Department of Agriculture (DoA) in Canberra, or from the appropriate State Departments of Agriculture, located in the respective State capitals.

When applying for import permits, as much detail as possible should be provided as to where the product is grown and how it is processed, so that the appropriate advice on treatments can be given without having to request additional information from the U.S. exporter.

All meat and poultry products must be accompanied by an Australian Import Permit and appropriate USDA Animal Health Certificate, and must originate from a plant approved for export to Australia.

The Department of Agriculture maintains a detailed database on their website of import conditions for most agricultural products. Called ICON, the website is: http://apps.daff.gov.au/icon32/asp/ex_querycontent.asp. If a product is not listed in ICON it is highly likely that that product is not permitted entry to Australia at this time. The Department of Commerce also maintains a website providing checklists of the information that is required to accompany permit applications to import biological products (this includes food products). The website is: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/import/biological/checklist. Both these websites are currently undergoing updates/reviews so it is important that U.S. exporters check the websites regularly to be sure to have the most up-to-date information. It is very important that U.S. exporters rely on these websites only for general for information regarding import regulations. Exporters must work with their Australian importer to ensure that ALL requirements are met. The import permit will set out the exact requirements for entry - this can differ markedly from country -to -country and from commodity -to -commodity – and even from different regions within a country.

Additional information on Australian requirements for imported packaged food, requirements for animals and animal products, documents for public comment (including import risk analyses), fee schedules, online forms, WTO Sanitary & Phytosanitary notifications, etc. is also available on the DoA website at: (http://www.agriculture.gov.au/import). This information is updated regularly. Guidance on import requirements is also available in the Food & Agriculture Import Regulations & Standards (FAIRS) report mentioned in the Labeling and Marking Requirements section above.

Customs Regulations and Contact Information Return to top

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service regulates the movement of goods and people across the Australian border. Customs does not scrutinize every transaction relying on clients to self-assess the correctness of transactions. Australian importers are legally responsible for the accuracy of information supplied to Customs, regardless who prepares the documents. Cargo reporters, importers, customs brokers, freight forwarders, depot and warehouse proprietors, financial institutions, information storage facilities, bureau services, owners, stevedores, etc. may be subject to compliance checks conducted by Customs. The importer is also responsible for verification of the country of origin. The U.S. shipper should declare on the commercial invoice “the goods are of U.S. manufacture and comply with AUSFTA.”

Penalties apply for non-compliance with Customs legislation, and offences do not require intent to be proven. Information and legislation requirements associated with import and export transactions are extensive. It is the responsibility of importers to familiarize themselves with the information provided by Customs. All imported goods must be entered in accordance with approved documentation, classified correctly, and any surplus goods reported. Items not ordered, samples, and promotional merchandise must also be entered. All relevant commercial documents must be retained for five years from the date of entry.

Clicking on this link will take you to the Customs website: http://www.customs.gov.au/. The site provides extensive information and guidance, some of which was used in the preparation of this section. For more details about information on the Customs website, please email: information@customs.gov.au. Clients can also contact the Customs Information and Support Center at 1300 363 263 from anywhere within Australia, or + 61 2 6275 6666 from outside Australia.

Standards Return to top

Overview Return to top

Australia is a signatory to the GATT/WTO Standards Code. It is common in Australia to use quality standards, such as the IS0 9000 series. Standards Australia, the national standards body, has a Quality Assessment division and can provide a list of companies adhering to the IS0 9000 series.

Australia still has in place various standards that can affect product entry, and while these may require product modifications they are not insurmountable obstacles to U.S. companies.

Standards Organizations Return to top

Standards Australia is Australia’s leading standards development organization. While not a government agency, Standards Australia is recognized as the leading standards development body in Australia. In partnership with SAI Global Ltd., an information services company, it delivers standards and related products to industry.

Standards Australia has more than 70 members, representing groups with an interest in the development and application of standards. It is Australia’s representative on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC).

Standards Australia develops and maintains more than 7,000 Australian Standards, and provides input into the development of approximately 18,000 International Standards by ISO and IEC.

Standards Australia has a policy of adopting International Standards wherever possible. This policy is in line with Australia's obligations under the World Trade Organization's Code of Practice, which requires the elimination of technical Standards as barriers to international trade. As a result approximately 33 percent of current Australian Standards are fully or substantially aligned with International Standards. Areas of industry where no significant International Standards exist include building, construction, and occupational health and safety. Around one third of Australian Standards have no international equivalent.

Imported consumer products, such as food products, must comply with state government packaging regulations. Australian states agree that any non-farm product, including imports, meeting the legal requirements of one state may be sold in all other states and territories. State agricultural quarantines prohibit interstate trade of some items.

American exporters of food products to Australia will find their product falling under the Australia Food Standards Code (http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/). Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) developed the code’s standards. This is a bi-national independent statutory authority that develops food standards for composition, labeling and contaminants, including microbiological limits, that apply to all foods produced or imported for sale in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, FSANZ develops standards to cover the entire supply chain for food, from primary producers through manufacturing and processing to delivery and point of sale.

The Department of Agriculture (DAFF), http://www.daff.gov.au/, is responsible for enforcing the Standards Code for imported foods.

Both Standards Australia (http://www.standards.org.au/) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), (http://www.nist.gov/) have current information on Australian standards.

Other standards organizations of interest to U.S. exporters are: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Australian Environmental Protection Agency, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), mandates technical standards relating to items of customer equipment, customer cabling, and other devices. These standards include the Electromagnetic Compatibility Arrangements (EMC) and Electromagnetic Radiation Arrangements (EMR). Before a product covered by the EMC regulatory arrangements can be sold in Australia it must be tested to applicable standards and labeled. The label consists of a mark called “C-Tick” and a unique supplier identification. The C-Tick mark is intended for use on products that comply with EMC standards.

The Australian Department of the Environment develops and implements national policy, programs and legislation to protect and conserve Australia's environment and heritage. Safety-related automotive parts and accessories on a vehicle for environmental compliance must adhere to Australian Design Rules and Australian automotive standards as well as environmental compliance. The supply of OE (Original Equipment) automotive parts must adhere to Quality System QS9000, the system adopted in the U.S. by Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is in charge of issuing approvals for all medical devices and health-related products.

NIST Notify U.S. Service

Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets. Register online at Internet URL:


Conformity Assessment Return to top

Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries. Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets. Register online at Internet URL:


Product Certification Return to top

SAI Global provides organizations around the world with information services and solution for managing risk, achieving compliance, and driving business improvement.

Accreditation Return to top

The Standards Accreditation Board’s role is to review and accredit standards development organizations that wish to develop and publish Australian Standards.

The accreditation process determines the competency of an organization to develop Australian standards. More information about the process by which the SAB grants accreditation can be found on the Board’s website: http://www.absdo.org.au/

Publication of Technical Regulations Return to top

In an agreement with Standards Australia, SAI Global Ltd. is the lead publisher of Australian Standards as well as other standards such as ISO, DIN (German Institute for Standardization), IEC, and Japan Standards Association.

Labeling and Marking Return to top

A number of voluntary and mandatory labels and marks indicating standards conformance are in use in Australia, including international standards such as ISO and IEC. Information about the required labels can be found by contacting the relevant standards organization.

Some electrical products are required to carry an approved energy label. These products include: refrigerators and freezers, clothes washers, dryers, dishwashers, and air conditioners. A larger list is regulated on the basis of minimum energy efficiency levels and includes the preceding list as well as electrical motors and transformers. The National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Committee, consisting of officials from the Commonwealth, state, and territory government agencies and representatives from New Zealand, is responsible for managing the Australian end-use energy efficiency program.

Contacts Return to top

Please refer to contacts listed throughout this chapter.

Trade Agreements Return to top

The U.S.- Australia Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA)

On January 1, 2005 Australia entered into the Free Trade Agreement with the United States (AUSFTA), providing major benefits for both countries through removal of tariffs, and the phased opening of markets. More information can be found at: http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/us_fta/final-text/index.html (full text) and http://www.ustr.gov/Trade_Agreements/Bilateral/Australia_FTA/Section_Index.html

U.S. companies interested in exporting to Australia can access the document Customs Tariff Schedule 5 U.S. Originating Goods at: http://www.customs.gov.au/tariff/tariff2012.asp

Other Agreements

The Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA, or CER) is the main instrument that governs economic relations between Australia and New Zealand. It is a comprehensive agreement, prescribing that all bilateral trade and services originating in the two countries is free of tariffs, quantitative restrictions, anti-dumping measures, production subsidies and like measures.

Australia has free trade agreements with:

  • Chile
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand (CER)
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • United States of America

Australia is negotiating or planning to negotiate free trade agreements with:

  • China
  • Gulf Cooperative Council
  • India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement
  • Indonesia
  • Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus
  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Australia is an active participant in the WTO, making regular submissions to trade negotiation rounds. Australia is a key member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and plays a leading role in promoting trade liberalization among the member economies. Australia exports approximately 76 percent of its goods and services to APEC economies. Australia is also a leading member of the Cairns Group of 19 agricultural exporting countries.

Web Resources Return to top

AUSFTA – full text: http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/us_fta/final-text/index.html

Working Tariff Current: http://www.customs.gov.au/tariff/tariff2012.asp

Australia Food Standards Code: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service: http://www.customs.gov.au

Australian Customs Tariff Schedule 5 U.S. Originating Goods: Australian Dangerous Goods Code: http://www.emplan.com.au/dangerous-goods/dangerous-goods.htm

Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority (ASPVMA): http://www.apvma.gov.au

Department of Agriculture: http://www.daff.gov.au/

Department of Agriculture - biological products checklists: http://www.daff.gov.au/biosecurity/import/biological/checklist/

Department of Agriculture - ICON: http://apps.daff.gov.au/icon32/asp/ex_querycontent.asp

Department of Agriculture – machinery/vehicles: http://www.daff.gov.au/biosecurity/import/vehicles-machinery/

Australian Tax Office: http://www.ato.gov.au

Australian Treaties Library: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/

Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia: http://www.cbfca.com.au/MembersDirectory.aspx

Defence Export Control Office (DECO): http://www.defence.gov.au/deco/

FAIRS reports: http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Lists/Advanced%20Search/AllItems.aspx

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): http://www.nist.gov/

NICNAS: http://www.nicnas.gov.au/Industry/Compliance/Compliance_Simple_Guide_PDF.pdf

NIST Notification Service: http://www.nist.gov/notifyus/

Prohibited and Restricted Imports: http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4369.asp

Standards Accreditation Board: http://www.absdo.org.au/

Standards Australia: http://www.standards.org.au/

The U.S.- Australia Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA)



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Chapter 6: Investment Climate

Openness to Foreign Investment Return to top

Australia is generally welcoming to foreign investment. In 2014, the United States was Australia’s largest source of Foreign Direct Investment stock delivering USD159 billion of investment or approximately 24% of all FDI in Australia. Australia is the United States’ 15th largest export market and third largest trading partner. U.S. direct investment in Australia is concentrated largely in the non-bank holding, mining, finance and insurance companies, and manufacturing sectors.

Foreign investment in Australia is regulated by the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy. The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), a division of Australia’s Treasury, is a non-statutory body established to advise the Treasurer and the Commonwealth Government on Australia’s foreign investment policy and its administration. The FIRB screens potential foreign investments in Australia above threshold values, and based on advice from the FIRB, the Treasurer may deny or place conditions on the approval of particular investments above that threshold on national interest grounds.

Under the auspice of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) all U.S. “greenfield” investments are exempt from FIRB screening. AUSFTA also raised the threshold for screening of most U.S. acquisition investments in Australia. U.S. investors require prior approval if acquiring a substantial interest in a primary production business valued above AUD1.094 billion (USD832 million). All foreign persons, including U.S. investors, must notify the Australian government and receive prior approval to make investments of five percent or more in the media sector, regardless of the value of the investment.

While U.S. investments are generally approved, the Australian Treasurer intervened in November 2013 to block U.S. agribusiness company Archer Daniels Midland’s (ADM) proposed AUD3.4 billion acquisition of Australian company GrainCorp Limited. The Treasurer determined that allowing a takeover to proceed could risk undermining public support for the foreign investment regime and ongoing foreign investment more generally, and that the ADM investment into Australia therefore would not be in the national interest.

In addition to the activities of FIRB, on February 11, 2015 the Australian Government announced a number of initiatives that will impact the way in which international investments in Australian agricultural land are reviewed and monitored. The Government revised its scrutiny of foreign purchases of agricultural land by reducing the monetary screening threshold it applies to foreign investment acquisitions. Effective from March 1, 2015 the Government reduced the screening threshold from AUD252 million to AUD15 million. This threshold applies to the cumulative value of agricultural land owned by the foreign investor, including the proposed purchase. The reduced screening threshold does not affect investments made under the Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. The current threshold remains $1.094 billion for U.S. non-governmental investors. Future investments made by U.S. non-governmental investors will be subject to inclusion on the proposed foreign ownership register of agricultural land and will also be subject to Australian Tax Office (ATO) information gathering activities on new foreign investment. The Government will establish a foreign ownership register of agricultural land to strengthen reporting requirements and provide a clearer picture of foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural sector. Beginning July 1, 2015, the ATO will start collecting information on all new foreign investment in agricultural land, regardless of value, and will commence a stock-take of existing agricultural land ownership by foreign interests.

Conversion and Transfer Policies Return to top

The Australian dollar is a fully convertible currency. The government does not maintain currency controls or limit remittance, loan or lease payments. Such payments are processed through standard commercial channels, without governmental interference or delay.

Expropriation and Compensation Return to top

The Australian legal system is firmly grounded on the principles of equal treatment before the law, procedural fairness, judicial precedent, and the independence of the judiciary. Strong safeguards exist to ensure that people are not treated arbitrarily or unfairly by governments or officials. Private property can be expropriated for public purposes in accordance with established principles of international law. Due process rights are well-established and respected, and prompt, adequate, and effective compensation is the norm.

Dispute Settlement Return to top

Australia has an established legal and court system for the conduct or supervision of litigation and arbitration, as well as alternate dispute processes. The traditional approach to commercial dispute resolution involves litigation, arbitration, and more modern methods of alternative dispute resolution. Australia is a world leader in the development and provision of non-court dispute resolution mechanisms. It is a signatory to all the major international dispute resolution conventions and has organizations that provide international dispute resolution processes.

Property and contractual rights are enforced through the Australian court system, which is based on English Common Law. There are few investment disputes involving foreign companies. Australia is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.

AUSFTA establishes a dispute settlement mechanism for disputes arising under the Agreement. In the first instance disputes are to be settled through consultation between the parties. Where these consultations are not effective in resolving the dispute, the Agreement provides for an arbitral panel to consider the matter.

The dispute settlement mechanism provides for compensation for breaches of the agreement, which may include requiring the breach to be corrected, trade compensation to be provided, or monetary compensation in lieu of trade compensation. The FTA does not allow private investors to directly challenge government decisions, but individual investors are able to raise concerns about their treatment by the Australian government with the U.S. government.

Performance Requirements and Incentives Return to top

As a general rule foreign firms establishing themselves in Australia are not subject to performance requirements and incentives.

Right to Private Ownership and Establishment Return to top

The common law system that forms the basis of Australian jurisprudence guarantees the right to private ownership and the establishment of private business enterprises.

Protection of Property Rights Return to top

A strong rule of law protects property rights in Australia and operates against corruption. Both foreign and domestically-owned businesses enjoy considerable flexibility in their licensing, regulation, and employment practices.

Transparency of Regulatory System Return to top

Australia subscribes to the 1976 declaration of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) concerning International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. The instruments cover national treatment and investment incentives and disincentives, and spell out voluntary guidelines for the conduct of multinational enterprises in member countries. Australia also subscribes to two OECD codes of liberalization, one covering capital movements and the other invisible transactions.

Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment Return to top

Australia’s four leading banks are highly ranked in terms of financial security and international rankings. Australian banks have one of the lowest non-performing loan ratios of economies surveyed by the IMF. Australia has an open and transparent approach to mergers and acquisitions. There are no “cross-shareholding” and “stable shareholder” arrangements used by private firms to restrict foreign investment through mergers and acquisitions. Measures used by private firms to defend against hostile takeovers are not focused on foreign investors.

Competition from State Owned Enterprises Return to top

Australia has steadily privatized most of its SOEs and few remain. Private enterprises are generally allowed to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to markets, credit, and other business operations, such as licenses and supplies. Public enterprises are not generally accorded material advantages in Australia. Remaining SOEs do not exercise power in a manner that discriminates against or unfairly burdens foreign investors or foreign-owned enterprises.

Australian Commonwealth and state governments have followed policies of privatizing their remaining state-owned assets in areas such as electricity generation, transmission, distribution, and retailing to both domestic and foreign investors.

Australia has one sovereign wealth fund, the Future Fund, which was established by the Future Fund Act 2006 to help future governments meet the cost of public sector superannuation (i.e. retirement pension) liabilities by delivering investment returns on contributions to the Fund. There is no regulation prescribing the proportion of the Future Fund’s assets that must be invested in Australia or offshore. The Future Fund plans to increase its foreign exposure, including in the United States, but most funds are invested in Australia.

Corporate Social Responsibility Return to top

In Australia there is a general awareness of corporate social responsibility among both producers and consumers. Both foreign and local enterprises tend to follow generally accepted corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Firms that pursue CSR are often rated highly in surveys of corporate behavior.

Political Violence Return to top

As in all liberal democracies, political protests (e.g., rallies, demonstrations, marches, public conflicts between competing interests) form an integral, though generally minor, part of Australian cultural life. Such protests rarely degenerate into violence.

Corruption Return to top

Corruption, including bribery, raises the costs and risks of doing business. Corruption has a corrosive impact on both market opportunities overseas for U.S. companies and the broader business climate. It also deters international investment, stifles economic growth and development, distorts prices, and undermines the rule of law.

It is important for U.S. companies, irrespective of their size, to assess the business climate in the relevant market in which they will be operating or investing and to have an effective compliance program or measures to prevent and detect corruption, including foreign bribery. U.S. individuals and firms operating or investing in foreign markets should take the time to become familiar with the relevant anticorruption laws of both the foreign country and the United States in order to properly comply with them, and where appropriate, they should seek the advice of legal counsel.

The U.S. Government seeks to level the global playing field for U.S. businesses by encouraging other countries to take steps to criminalize their own companies’ acts of corruption, including bribery of foreign public officials, by requiring them to uphold their obligations under relevant international conventions. A U. S. firm that believes a competitor is seeking to use bribery of a foreign public official in international business, for example to secure a contract, should bring this to the attention of appropriate U.S. agencies, as noted below.

U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: In 1977, the United States enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which generally makes it unlawful for U.S. persons and businesses (domestic concerns), and U.S. and foreign public companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States or which must file periodic reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (issuers), to offer, promise or make a corrupt payment or anything of value to foreign officials to obtain or retain business. The FCPA also applies to foreign firms and persons who take any act in furtherance of such a corrupt payment while in the United States. In addition to the anti-bribery provisions, the FCPA contains accounting provisions applicable to public companies. The accounting provisions require issuers to make and keep accurate books and records and to devise and maintain an adequate system of internal accounting controls. The accounting provisions also prohibit individuals and businesses from knowingly falsifying books or records or knowingly circumventing or failing to implement a system of internal controls. In order to provide more information and guidance on the statute, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission published A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, available in PDF at:

http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa/guidance/. For more detailed information on the FCPA generally, see the Department of Justice FCPA website at: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa/.

Other Instruments: It is U.S. Government policy to promote good governance, including host country implementation and enforcement of anti-corruption laws and policies pursuant to their obligations under international agreements. Since enactment of the FCPA the United States has been instrumental to the expansion of the international framework to fight corruption. Several significant components of this framework are the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (negotiated under the auspices of the OECD), the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UN Convention), the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (OAS Convention), the Council of Europe Criminal and Civil Law Conventions, and a growing list of U.S. free trade agreements.

OECD Antibribery Convention: The Antibribery Convention entered into force in February 1999. As of January 2015, there are 41 parties to the Convention, including the United States (see http://www.oecd.org/corruption/oecdantibriberyconvention.htm). Major exporters China and India are not parties, although the U.S. Government strongly endorses their eventual accession to the Antibribery Convention. The Antibribery Convention obligates the Parties to criminalize bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions, which the United States has done under U.S. FCPA.

UN Convention: The UN Convention entered into force on December 14, 2005 and there are 174 parties to it as of March 2015 (see http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/signatories.html). The UN Convention requires countries to establish criminal and other offences to cover a wide range of acts of corruption, from basic forms of corruption such as bribery and solicitation, embezzlement, and trading in influence to the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption. The Convention contains transnational business bribery provisions that are functionally similar to those in the OECD Antibribery Convention and contains provisions on private sector auditing and books and records requirements. Other provisions address matters such as prevention, international cooperation, and asset recovery.

OAS Convention: In 1996, the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the first international anticorruption legal instrument, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (OAS Convention), which entered into force in March 1997. The OAS Convention, among other things, establishes a set of preventive measures against corruption, provides for the criminalization of certain acts of corruption, including transnational bribery and illicit enrichment, and contains a series of provisions to strengthen the cooperation between its States Parties in areas such as mutual legal assistance and technical cooperation. As of January 2015 the OAS Convention has 34 parties (see http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/Sigs/b-58.html) and the follow-up mechanism created in 2001 (MESICIC) has 31 members (see http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/mesicic_intro_en.htm).

Council of Europe Criminal Law and Civil Law Conventions on Corruption: Many European countries are parties to either the Council of Europe (CoE) Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, the Civil Law Convention on Corruption, or both. The Criminal Law Convention requires criminalization of a wide range of national and transnational conduct, including bribery, money-laundering, and accounting offenses. It also incorporates provisions on liability of legal persons and witness protection. The Civil Law Convention includes provisions on whistleblower protection, compensation for damage relating to corrupt acts, and nullification of a contract providing for or influenced by corruption, inter alia. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) was established in 1999 by the CoE to monitor compliance with these and related anti-corruption standards. Currently, GRECO comprises 49 member States (48 European countries and the United States). See http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/general/about_en.asp. As of January 2015 the Criminal Law Convention has 44 parties and the Civil Law Convention has 35 (see http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?CL=ENG&NT=173; http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?CL=ENG&NT=174).

Free Trade Agreements: While it is U.S. Government policy to include anticorruption provisions in free trade agreements (FTAs) that it negotiates with its trading partners, the anticorruption provisions have evolved over time. The most recent FTAs negotiated now require trading partners to criminalize “active bribery” of public officials (offering bribes to any public official must be made a criminal offense, both domestically and trans-nationally) as well as domestic “passive bribery” (solicitation of a bribe by a domestic official). All U.S. FTAs may be found at the U.S. Trade Representative Website: http://www.ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements. Australia and the United States have had a Free Trade Agreement in place since 2005.

Local Laws: U.S. firms should familiarize themselves with local anticorruption laws, and, where appropriate, seek legal counsel. While the U.S. Department of Commerce cannot provide legal advice on local laws, the Department’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service can provide assistance with navigating the host country’s legal system and obtaining a list of local legal counsel.

Assistance for U.S. Businesses: The U.S. Department of Commerce offers several services to aid U.S. businesses seeking to address business-related corruption issues. For example, the U.S. Commercial Service can provide services that may assist U.S. companies in conducting their due diligence as part of the company’s overarching compliance program when choosing business partners or agents overseas. The U.S. Commercial Service can be reached directly through its offices in every major U.S. and city and offices in over 75 overseas locations, or through its website at www.trade.gov/cs.

The United States provides commercial advocacy on behalf of exporters of U.S. goods and services bidding on public sector contracts with foreign governments and government agencies.  An applicant for advocacy must complete a questionnaire concerning its background, the relevant contract, and the requested U.S. Government assistance.  The applicant must also certify that it is in compliance with applicable U.S. law, that it and its affiliates have not and will not engage in bribery of foreign public officials in connection with the foreign project, and that it and its affiliates maintain and enforce a policy that prohibits bribery of foreign public officials. Problems encountered by U.S. companies in seeking such foreign business opportunities, including alleged corruption by foreign governments or competitors, can be brought to the attention of appropriate U.S. government officials, including local embassy personnel, and reported through the Department of Commerce Trade Compliance Center “Report a Trade Barrier” website at tcc.export.gov/Report_a_Barrier/index.asp. Potential violations of the FCPA can be reported to the Department of Justice via email to FCPA.Fraud@usdoj.gov.

Guidance on the U.S. FCPA: The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) FCPA Opinion Procedure enables U.S. firms and individuals and issuers to request a statement of the Justice Department’s present enforcement intentions under the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA regarding actual, prospective business conduct. The details of the opinion procedure are available on DOJ’s Fraud Section Website at: www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa and general information is contained in Chapter 9 of the publication A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, at http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa/guidance/. Although the Department of Commerce has no enforcement role with respect to the FCPA, it supplies general information to U.S. exporters who have questions about the FCPA and about international developments concerning the FCPA. For further information, see the Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce, website at: http://www.commerce.gov/os/ogc/transparency-and-anti-bribery-initiatives. More general information on the FCPA is available at the websites listed below.

Exporters and investors should be aware that generally all countries prohibit the bribery of their public officials, and prohibit their officials from soliciting bribes under domestic laws. Most countries are required to criminalize such bribery and other acts of corruption by virtue of being parties to various international conventions discussed above.

Public sector corruption, including bribery of public officials, is almost non-existent in Australia.

Anti-Corruption Resources

Some useful resources for individuals and companies regarding combating corruption in global markets include the following:

There are many other publicly available anticorruption resources that may be useful, some of which are listed below without prejudice to other sources of information that have not been included. (The listing of resources below does not necessarily constitute U.S. Government endorsement of their findings).

  • Transparency International (TI) publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in approximately 180 countries and territories around the world. The CPI is available at: http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview. TI also publishes an annual Global Corruption Report which provides a systematic evaluation of the state of corruption around the world. It includes an in-depth analysis of a focal theme, a series of country reports that document major corruption related events and developments from all continents, and an overview of the latest research findings on anti-corruption diagnostics and tools. Please see: http://www.transparency.org/research/gcr.
  • The World Bank Institute’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for 215 economies over the period 1996-2013, for six dimensions of governance (Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, and Control of Corruption). Please see: http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#home. The World Bank Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Surveys may also be of interest and are available at: http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/BEEPS. See also the World Bank Group Doing Business reports, a series of annual reports measuring regulations affecting business activity, available at: http://www.doingbusiness.org/
  • The World Economic Forum publishes every two years the Global Enabling Trade Report, which assesses the quality of institutions, policies and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to their destinations. At the core of the report, the Enabling Trade Index benchmarks the performance of 138 economies in four areas: market access; border administration; transport and communications infrastructure; and regulatory and business environment. Please see: http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-enabling-trade-report-2014.
  • Global Integrity, a nonprofit organization, publishes its annual Global Integrity Report, which typically assesses anti-corruption and good governance mechanisms in diverse countries. The 2012 and 2013 reports covered a small number of countries as the organization focused on re-launching a modernized methodology in mid-2014. For more information on the report, please see: https://www.globalintegrity.org/global-report/what-is-gi-report/.

Bilateral Investment Agreements Return to top

The Australian Government supports the negotiation of comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that are consistent with the World Trade Organization rules and guidelines and complement and reinforce the multilateral trading system. Australia has FTAs with the United States, Thailand, Singapore, Korea, Chile, Malaysia, and a multilateral FTA with New Zealand and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN), all of which contain chapters on investment. The countries covered by these FTAs account for 28 percent of total trade. Negotiations with Japan for a bilateral FTA are completed and the agreement is expected to be signed in mid-2014.

Australia is currently engaged in seven FTA negotiations - three bilateral FTA negotiations: China, India, and Indonesia; and four plurilateral FTA negotiations: the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP, consisting of the ASEAN+6 group of nations), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and a Pacific trade and economic agreement (PACER Plus). The countries covered by these negotiations account for a further 44 percent of Australia's trade.

Since 2009, the United States has been engaged in negotiations for an Asia-Pacific trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with the objective of shaping a high standard, broad-based regional agreement. This agreement will create a potential platform for economic integration across the Asia-Pacific region, a means to advance U.S. economic interests with the fastest-growing economies in the world, and a tool to expand U.S. exports, which are critical to U.S. economic recovery and the creation and retention of high-paying, high-quality jobs in the United States. In addition to Australia and the United States, the TPP negotiating partners currently include Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Australia-United States FTA (AUSFTA): The Australia-United States FTA (AUSFTA) entered into force on January 1, 2005. The comprehensive agreement covers goods, services, investment, financial services, government procurement, standards and technical regulations, telecommunications, competition-related matters, electronic commerce, intellectual property rights, labor and the environment. The agreement has guaranteed U.S. access to the Australian market and the gradual expansion of this access. Under the FTA, trade in goods and services as well as foreign direct investment has continued to expand. More than 99 percent of U.S. exports of manufactured goods are now duty-free. The FTA will also eliminate tariffs on textiles within 10 years of entry into force.

Other Free Trade Agreements: Australia signed a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and New Zealand, which became effective in January 2010. The 2003 Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) eliminated most tariffs and increased market access for services. It also harmonized competition policy, government procurement, intellectual property, e-commerce, customs procedures, and business travel. The Thailand-Australia FTA cut tariffs to zero on virtually all goods from January 2010. The Australia-Chile FTA will eliminate tariffs on all merchandise trade between Australia and Chile by 2015.

The Australia-Malaysia FTA (MAFTA) took effect from January 1, 2013 and provides for 98 percent of Australian goods currently exported to Malaysia to be eligible for tariff-free treatment, rising to 99 percent in 2017. Service providers benefit from increased access to the Malaysian market and an easing of rules on control of Malaysian businesses. All remaining Australian tariffs on Malaysian goods have been removed.

Australia and Japan concluded negotiations for an FTA on April 7, 2014. Australia and South Korea signed an FTA on April 8, 2014. 84% of Australian exports (by value) enter Korea duty free, to rise to 99.8% of exports on full implementation of the agreement. Australia removed many tariffs on entry into force of the agreement and will eliminate the rest over several years.

OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs Return to top

The Australian Government provides assistance to business for the development or expansion of export markets, and business advice on exporting and financial grants through the Export Market Development Grants scheme and the activities of Austrade, Australia’s export promotion agency. The Export Finance and Investment Corporation (EFIC) provides export financing assistance to Australian businesses and sometimes overseas buyers. The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) excludes Australia, as it is not a developing country. In some cases, the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) can support major resources and energy projects in Australia to support U.S. jobs and exports.

Labor Return to top

The Australian Government is a party to all International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions.

Australia’s unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in May 2015.

The Fair Work Act provides a safety net of enforceable minimum employment terms and conditions through the National Employment Standards (NES). The Australian government is currently seeking to amend the Act to increase workplace flexibility.

The number of industrial disputes is low by historical standards.

The Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 requires employers to contribute a minimum of nine percent of each employee's base salary into that employee's superannuation (i.e., retirement pension) account. Employees may make additional contributions and are entitled to choose their superannuation fund.

In 2001 the Government established the General Employees Entitlements Redundancy Scheme (GEERS), a taxpayer-funded insurance scheme, in response to growing community concerns about the loss of employee entitlements after several companies collapsed. GEER is a basic payment scheme established to assist employees who have lost their employment due to the liquidation or bankruptcy of their employer and who are owed certain employee entitlements. The scheme covers capped unpaid wages, annual and long-service leave, capped payment in lieu of notice, and capped redundancy pay. Employees currently stand ahead of unsecured creditors, but behind lenders with fixed security in the creditors' queue following a company collapse.

General Skilled Migration Program: Immigration has always been an important source of skilled labor in Australia. The Immigration Department has a ”skilled occupations list” (SOL) that can be used by potential applicants seeking to nominate skilled occupations which are acceptable for permanent and temporary skilled migration to Australia under the General Skilled Migration program, and the Employer Nominated Scheme. Applicants must have a nominated occupation when they apply that is applicable to their circumstances.

The 457 Long Stay Business visa: If an overseas business decides to establish a presence in Australia and relocate for its business operations, it may apply for the status of a Business Sponsor and sponsor personnel for a 457 visa through the Department of Immigration. Business can use the 457 visa program to gain access to priority processing and approval to sponsor skilled workers for six years under a new accreditation scheme. The scheme applies to businesses that used 457 visas for three years and that have a commitment to ensure 75 percent of their workforce is Australian. The 457 visa program aims to alleviate skill shortages in sectors such as mining.

Foreign-Trade Zones/Free Ports Return to top

Australia does not have free trade zones.

Foreign Direct Investment Statistics Return to top

In 2014 the United States was Australia’s largest source of Foreign Direct Investment stock delivering USD159 billion of investment or approximately 24% of all FDI in Australia. Australia is the United States’ 15th largest export market and third largest trading partner. U.S. direct investment in Australia is concentrated largely in the nonbank holding, mining, finance and insurance companies, and manufacturing sectors.

Contact Point at Post Return to top

For information regarding the Investment Climate Statement for Australia, please contact:

Matthew Murray

Economic Counselor

U.S. Embassy Canberra

Tel: (61)(2)6214-5759

Email: MurrayMD@state.gov

Return to table of contents

Return to table of contents

Chapter 7: Trade and Project Financing

How Do I Get Paid (Methods of Payment) Return to top

Australia has a wide range of export financing options available. A few basic tools are described below. U.S. companies should choose the option that is favorable to both transacting parties. We recommend consulting the international services division of a U.S. or Australian financial institution for a more complete description and recommendations regarding the best option for a given transaction.

Cash in Advance: The exporter demands cash in advance before exporting. From the buyer’s perspective, this is the least popular method. A U.S. exporter requiring cash in advance lowers his risk but potentially reduces his competitive position. Modified forms of this method (e.g. deposit with progress payments) are normally used for custom-built equipment or other unique products.

Letters of Credit: These documents substitute credit issued from the buyer’s bank. In the case of Confirmed Irrevocable Letters of Credit, the confirming bank is guaranteeing payment by the issuing bank. A Letter of Credit (L/C), however, includes terms and conditions that the exporter must perform to receive payment. This is a very secure form of payment and is frequently used for new or unknown clients, where there is a higher risk of nonpayment. Offering more flexibility, and not as onerous as Cash in Advance, Letters of Credit still represent an obligation on the Australian importer’s credit line, and will incur bank fees.

Commercial Bills of Exchange: These bills of exchange (sight and time drafts and cash against documents) are processed through the banks of both parties involved in the transaction. Like an L/C, banks do not guarantee payment or release shipping documents until both parties meet the terms of the exchange.

This method carries higher risk than Letters of Credit as the importer may refuse to pay. The exporter should obtain credit references or have long-standing relationships with the importer before offering this form of financing. Importers prefer this method because it does not affect their cash flow or tie up commercial credit lines. These advantages to the importer have made it one of the most widely-used forms of trade financing.

The majority of Australian imports from the U.S. allow payment terms from 30 to 180 days from the date of the shipping documents. This method carries the greatest risk to the exporter but is the most attractive to the importer.

How Does the Banking System Operate Return to top

The four largest retail banks in Australia are Westpac Banking Corporation, Commonwealth Bank, Australian New Zealand Bank (ANZ), and National Australia Bank (NAB). They all have AA ratings. Nevertheless, trade finance liquidity is an issue here as in the rest of the world.

While the banking system in Australia is reliable and transparent, there are structural and operational differences from the American system. Historically, Australian banks have not operated under the restrictions that limited U.S. bank operations between 1933 and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. In Australia, the distinction between retail banks and investment banks has become increasingly blurred.

The Australian banking system is undergoing progressive deregulation and privatization. Foreign banks are allowed to enter the financial market. Retail banks, in general, now provide a wider range of financial services, including: life and general insurance, stock brokering, and security underwriting to retail customers, in addition to making corporate and consumer loans. This places them in competition with brokerage houses and merchant banks.

The Australian Government permits non-Australian banks to operate as branches to serve the wholesale market. However, banking regulations only allow retail banking activities through a locally-incorporated subsidiary.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) sets monetary policy and regulates the payment system. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) oversees banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance and reinsurance companies, life insurance, friendly societies (co-ops), and most members of the superannuation industry. APRA currently supervises institutions holding approximately USD 4 trillion in assets for almost 23 million Australian depositors, policyholders, and superannuation fund members (http://www.apra.gov.au/).

Foreign-Exchange Controls Return to top

Australia does not restrict the flow of currency into or out of the country. There are, however, cash reporting obligations under the Cash Transaction Reports Act (CTRA). To control tax evasion and money laundering the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) must receive reports of international currency transfers of AUD10,000 or more. AUSTRAC does not inhibit normal currency transfers associated with international trade.

The Australian dollar is freely convertible. International supply and demand determines exchange rates. Official policy is not to defend any particular exchange rate level. Reserve Bank intervention is minimal and occurs only to extreme foreign exchange market volatility. Only authorized foreign exchange dealers, including trading banks and most merchant banks, make foreign exchange transactions. There are no specific restrictions regarding the remittance of profits, dividends, or capital.

U.S. Banks and Local Correspondent Banks Return to top

Please see Web Resources for a list of American and Australian banks and financial institutions.

Project Financing Return to top

In Australia many national and international financial management companies provide the complex financial structuring services required to fund projects using the most competitive package available for a particular project. Long-term debt financing is available from a variety of sources and methods. These include:

  • Banks
  • Retail investors
  • Government loans
  • Export credit agencies
  • Credit enhancement agencies
  • Bonds
  • Formation of national and international banking consortia
  • BOOT (build, own, operate, and transfer)
  • Direct investment by local and international companies
  • Loan syndicates
  • Joint ventures

Project financing includes finance from non-participants (i.e., loan funds by financial institutions) and finance provided by participants (shares in a stock company), as well as a host of hybrid arrangements. U.S. companies participate actively in all types of project financing in Australia.

Traditionally, banks have provided project finance term debt and currently are the only source of project credit. While other sources might fund project loans, funding is undertaken only on the basis of bank credit enhancement through a bank guarantee or letter of credit. The development of new and innovative funding mechanisms are a key element in financing projects and infrastructure development, as public projects at the federal, state, and local levels become available for privatization.

The major trading banks have dominant ownership of the major finance companies, which control about 75 percent of the total assets of the industry. Commercial banks are the major source of medium-term loans. A wide range of merchant banks operate in Australia, many of which are associated with some of the world’s largest financial institutions. They also provide short to medium-term funding.

Venture capital is usually available from management and investment companies, which are funded by tax-deductible capital subscriptions. Other alternatives include: obtaining funds from finance companies (including leasing arrangements), building societies, credit cooperatives or unions, insurance companies, pension and superannuation funds, and cash management trusts.

The larger finance companies obtain their funds mainly by public issues of debentures and unsecured notes, with terms of up to five years. Syndicated lending by Australian and overseas banks provides long-term financing. A specialized market exists for direct borrowing and lending on an unsecured basis between large, well-established companies. Factoring of book debts can be arranged with finance companies, but it is not a widespread practice.

Unlike their U.S. counterparts, Australian banks are free to participate in virtually all forms of financial services, including overdrafts (a traditional form of borrowing), fixed-term loans, commercial bills of exchange, letters of credit, domestic and international debt and equity issues, underwriting, leasing, and Eurocurrency borrowing. A wide range of non-bank institutions also provide financial services.

Several U.S. Government agencies, as well as state and local bodies, offer programs to assist U.S. exporters with their financing needs. Some are guarantee programs that require the participation of an approved lender; others provide loans or grants to the exporter, or to a foreign government. Many of these financing and guarantee programs apply only to high-risk or developing countries. Therefore, most business dealings with Australia do not qualify for coverage.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), the United States Government's trade finance agency, offers numerous programs to finance and facilitate U.S. exports through loans and provides guarantees and insurance for loans from commercial sources. Although Australia participates in Ex-Im Bank programs for major projects, such as commercial aircraft sales, there is relatively little Ex-Im Bank activity in Australia.

Other organizations fill various market niches. A group of large banks owns the Private Export Funding Corporation (PEFCO), which makes Ex-Im Bank-guaranteed loans to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a variety of programs to foster agricultural exports. The U.S. Small Business Administration addresses the international trade needs of small U.S. exporters.

Because Australia is an industrialized country and a donor nation to the multilateral development banks (MDBs), lending institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank do not operate here. Like other prosperous countries Australia has a large pool of private funding available for debt financing of projects.

World Bank and Asian Development Bank’s support for development projects in the developing countries of Asia provides opportunities for American / Australian consortia to compete for MDB-funded contracts. Australian companies often have established relationships in the region and are in a strong position, when teamed with U.S. companies, to offer very competitive bids and performance qualifications.

Web Resources Return to top

Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters, published by the International Trade Administration’s Industry & Analysis team: http://www.export.gov/tradefinanceguide/index.asp

Export-Import Bank of the United States: http://www.exim.gov

Country Limitation Schedule: http://www.exim.gov/tools/country/country_limits.html

OPIC: http://www.opic.gov

Trade and Development Agency: http://www.tda.gov/

SBA's Office of International Trade: http://www.sba.gov/oit/

USDA Commodity Credit Corporation: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/ccc/default.htm

U.S. Agency for International Development: http://www.usaid.gov

Banks and Financial Institutions

Adelaide Bank Ltd: http://www.adelaidebank.com.au

AMP Bank: http://www.amp.com.au

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ): http://www.anz.com

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority: http://www.apra.gov.au

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center: http://www.austrac.gov.au/

Bank of America NA: http://www.bankofamerica.com

Bank of Queensland Ltd: http://www.boq.com.au

BankWest http://www.bankwest.com.au/

Bendigo Bank Ltd: http://www.bendigobank.com.au

BT Financial Group: http://www.btfunds.com.au

Citibank Australia: http://www.citibank.com.au

Commonwealth Bank of Australia: http://www.commbank.com.au

Country Limitation Schedule: http://www.exim.gov/tools/countrylimitationschedule/

Export-Import Bank of the United States: http://www.exim.gov

JP Morgan Australia Pty Ltd: http://www.jpmorgan.com.au

Macquarie Bank Ltd: http://www.macquarie.com.au

Merrill Lynch Australasia: http://www.ml.com

Morgan Stanley Australia Limited: http://www.morganstanley.com

National Australia Bank Limited: http://www.national.com.au

OPIC: http://www.opic.gov

SBA's Office of International Trade: http://www.sba.gov/oit/

State Street Bank and Trust Company: http://www.statestreet.com

St. George Ltd: http://www.stgeorge.com.au

Suncorp-Metway Ltd: http://www.suncorpmetway.com.au

U.S. Trade and Development Agency: http://www.tda.gov/

USDA Commodity Credit Corporation: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/ccc/default.htm

U.S. Agency for International Development: http://www.usaid.gov

Westpac Banking Corporation: http://www.westpac.com.au

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Return to table of contents

Chapter 8: Business Travel

Business Customs Return to top

Conducting business in Australia is relatively easy for American companies due to the similarities in language, cultural environment, business practices, and customer expectations. Australians pay attention to advance planning, promptness, follow-up, and are generally direct in their business dealings. They typically conduct business on a first-name basis and exchange business cards for information purposes, but without any special ceremony. Token gift exchange is not common; however, luncheon and breakfast meetings are common. Australians do not typically schedule business functions on weekends. Business attire is the norm for the cities, and rural areas are slightly more informal.

Travel Advisory Return to top

For State Department travel warnings, please visit:


For additional State Department information on Australia, please visit:


Visa Requirements Return to top

Americans traveling to Australia for business and/or leisure must hold a valid U.S. passport and either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). ETA’s are available via the Internet (https://www.immi.gov.au/Services/Pages/electronic-travel-authority-online-applications.aspx), and from participating U.S. travel agents and airlines when making travel arrangements. There is an AUD20 service fee for each ETA application. The Australian Embassy maintains a list of participating travel agencies that can arrange for Americans to obtain ETA’s. U.S. citizens traveling to Australia should note that they can only obtain the ETA in the United States.

Americans can apply to Australian Embassies, High Commissions, and Consulates for a visa. For the location of the nearest Australian diplomatic facility, please refer to:


Requirements for work and resident visas are more stringent. Americans should contact the nearest Australian visa office well in advance of travel.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.

State Department Visa website: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html

U.S. Embassy in Australia website: http://canberra.usembassy.gov/visas.html


Australia’s local currency is the Australian Dollar. Further information on Australia’s currency is available at: http://www.australia.com/en/facts/currency.html

Telecommunications Return to top

Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure is well developed.

Australian telecommunications providers include: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and Virgin. All the cell phone carriers run 4G networks. You will need to make prior arrangements with your communications carrier or service provider to ensure you are able to use your cellular phone in Australia. Power voltage is 240 volts/50Hz.

Australia and New Zealand use power terminals that differ from those used in the United States. Hence, adaptors can be purchased at airports or specific electronic stores.

Internet access is widely available at airports, hotels, and internet cafés. There are many Wi-Fi hotspots in the central business districts (CBDs) of the biggest cities.

For more information on telecommunications in Australia see the Australian Communications and Media Authority website at http://www.acma.gov.au

Transportation Return to top

It is a 14-hour non-stop flight from the West Coast of the United States (San Francisco or Los Angeles) to the East Coast of Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane). Several international airlines including Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, Qantas Airways, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, and Air Pacific fly this trans-pacific route.

Most flights depart from the United States late in the evening and arrive in Australia early morning, with a day lost at the International Date Line. Travel to or from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South America, and South Africa from Australia is also convenient.

Frequent interstate flights connect the five major Australian cities. The major airlines servicing domestic routes include Qantas Airways, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar Airways. Discounts may be available on domestic airfares when purchased in conjunction with international tickets. Australia has an extensive and efficient domestic transportation system, including air, rail, coach, and sea services.

Australians drive on the left side of the road. Major U.S. and Australian car rental agencies operate throughout the country. Reservations are available through airports, hotels, travel agents, or directly, using a credit card and a U.S. or international driver's license.

Public transportation is well developed throughout urban areas. Convenient bus, rail, and air services are available between cities and country towns.

International Air Travel Times

Los Angeles to Sydney - 14 hrs

New York to Sydney (via Los Angeles or San Francisco) - 21 hrs

Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney – 16 hrs

Honolulu to Sydney - 9 hrs

Tokyo to Sydney - 9 hrs

Hong Kong to Sydney - 9 hrs

Singapore to Sydney - 8 hrs

Air Travel Times Within Australia

Sydney to Melbourne - 1 hr

Sydney to Brisbane - 1 hr

Sydney to Perth - 4 hrs

Sydney to Canberra - 35 mins

Melbourne to Brisbane - 2 hrs

Melbourne to Perth - 4 hrs

Brisbane to Perth - 6 hrs

Language Return to top

Australia is an English-speaking country.

Health Return to top

Australia has no notable health risks and public tap water is safe to drink. There are active campaigns to encourage the population to protect themselves from exposure to Australia’s strong sun and to use sunscreen. Medical and dental services, and all types of health facilities, are comparable with those in the United States. Visitors can easily receive medical attention, but may be required to pay for services immediately, either by cash or credit card.

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays Return to top

Australia has three time zones: Eastern, Central, and Western. Not all Australian states observe daylight saving time and the dates for the switch to and from daylight savings time varies. To check the current time in Australia, refer to: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Office business hours are generally between 9:00am - 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Most shops in major city centers are open on Saturday and Sunday and at least one night a week for evening trading. Banks are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with 7-day/24-hour ATM service. Restaurants and convenience stores are typically open for extended hours.

Australians generally take annual vacation in December and January, combining Christmas/New Year with the school summer vacation period. Consequently, business slows down and it may be difficult to schedule business appointments during this time. Business travelers should ascertain whether their contacts are available during this period before scheduling trips to Australia.

A list of Public Holidays in Australia can be found at: http://www.australia.gov.au/topics/australian-facts-and-figures/public-holidays

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings Return to top

Certain goods may be brought into Australia on a temporary basis for a period of up to 12 months without the payment of duty or taxes. These goods are referred to as temporary imports. Approval for temporary imports is granted under Section 162 or Section 162A of the Customs Act 1901.

Goods that qualify as temporary imports may also be imported under carnet, where a security is lodged with a carnet issuing body overseas, or under security, where a security is lodged with the Australian Customs Service (Customs) at the time of import. The nature of the goods, what they will be used for while they are in Australia, and who is importing the goods will determine whether or not the goods will qualify.

There are conditions placed on temporary imports. The most important condition is that you export the goods within the time limits approved. If the goods are not exported within the time limit you will have to pay to Customs an amount equal to the duty and taxes that would have been payable if when you first imported the goods, the goods had not been treated as temporary imports.

For further information, please visit: http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4370.asp

There are no restrictions on the temporary importation of personal computers and software applications for use in normal business situations.

Web Resources Return to top

Australian Communications Authority: http://www.acma.gov.au

Australian Customs: http://www.customs.gov.au

Australian Embassy/Consulate listing:


Australian Embassy Website: http://canberra.usembassy.gov/index.html

Australian Embassy U.S. Visas Website: http://canberra.usembassy.gov/visas.html

Australian Visa information: https://www.immi.gov.au/Services/Pages/electronic-travel-authority-online-applications.aspx

Public Holidays in Australia: http://www.australia.gov.au/topics/australian-facts-and-figures/public-holidays

Time conversion: http://www.timezoneconverter.com

U.S. State Dept. Australia: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/australia.html

U.S. State Dept. Travel Warnings: http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

U.S. State Dept. Visa Website: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html

Australian Tourist Office

Australian Tourist Commission http://www.australia.com

Australian State Tourist Offices

Australian Capital Territory: http://www.canberratourism.com.au

New South Wales Tourist Commission: http://www.visitnsw.com/

Victorian Tourist Commission: http://www.visitvictoria.com

Tourism Queensland: http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au

South Australian Tourist Commission: http://www.southaustralia.com

Western Australian Tourist Commission: http://www.westernaustralia.net

Northern Territory Tourism Commission: http://www.tourismnt.com.au/

Tourism Tasmania: http://www.discovertasmania.com

Return to table of contents

Return to table of contents

Chapter 9: Contacts, Market Research and Trade Events

Contacts Return to top

Embassy of the United States of America


U.S. Commercial Service Offices in Australia


Senior Commercial Officer for Australia

Joe Kaesshaefer

U.S. Commercial Service

U.S. Consulate General

Level 59, MLC Centre,

19-29 Martin Place

Sydney NSW 2000 Australia

Tel: 61 2 9373 9202 / Fax: 61 2 9221 0573

Email: office.australia@trade.gov

For all official business calls to the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney, callers may avoid international call charges by dialing U.S. telephone number 301-985-8663 and during the recorded announcement dial “9” plus the party’s extension (9202 for Commercial Service office).

For mail from the U.S.:

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Consulate General, Sydney

Attn: U.S. Commercial Service

4150 Sydney Pl

Washington DC 20521-4150

AmCham and Bilateral Business Councils

The American Chamber of Commerce in Australia (Amcham)


Australian American Chamber of Commerce


Australian Chambers Of Commerce (By State)

Each Australian state has a Chamber of Commerce to promote business relations and investment, including imports and exports.

NSW (New South Wales) Business Chamber


Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland


Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry


Business South Australia


Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce & Industry


Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia



(Listed by Standard ITA Industry Codes)

Australia, like the U.S., has active trade and industry associations that have various information and industry promotion programs to assist their members.

General Business and Trade Associations

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry


Australian Commercial Disputes Centre


Australian Industry Group


Australian Institute of Company Directors


Australian Institute of Management – Victoria & Tasmania


Australian Market and Social Research Society


Australian Retailers Association


Business Council of Australia (policy advisory group)


Consult Australia

(formerly the Association of Consulting Engineers Australia)


Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia Inc.


Engineers Australia


Institute of Business Leaders


The Institute of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys of Australia


New South Wales Business Chamber

(Formerly: Australian Business Chamber)


Standards Australia


Accounting Firms (ACT)

CPA Australia


Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, The


Agricultural Machinery and Equipment (AGM)

Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia


Aircraft/Parts (AIR)

Airport/Ground Support Equipment (APG)

Aviation Services (AVS)

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia


Airservices Australia


Royal Aeronautical Society: Australian Division


Civil Aviation Safety Authority


Australian Airports Association


Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association Inc


Regional Aviation Association of Australia


Australian Helicopter Industry Association


Automotive Parts/Service Equipment (APS)

Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association


Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers


Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries


Australian Motor Industry Federation


Biotechnology (BTC)



Books/Periodicals (BOK)

Australian Booksellers Association


Building and Construction (CON)

Australian Building Codes Board


Australian Construction Industry Forum


Australian Constructors Association


Infrastructure Partnerships Australia


Australasian Tunnelling Society


Civil Contractors Federation


Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government:


Housing Industry Association


Master Builders Australia Inc.


Chemical Production Machinery (CHM)

Chemicals, Industrial (ICH)

Chemical Advisory Service


Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association


Computers/Peripherals (CPT)

Computer Software (CSF)

Computer Services (CSV)

Australian Computer Society Inc.


Australian Information Industry Association


Australian Interactive Media Industry Association


Communications Alliance Ltd

(Formerly: Internet Industry Association)


Defense Industry Equipment (DFN)

Australian Industry & Defence Network


Australian Industry Group


Direct Marketing (DIR)

Australian Direct Marketing Association


Drugs and Pharmaceuticals (DRG)

Pharmacy Guild of Australia


Medicines Australia


National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme www.nicnas.gov.au

Therapeutic Goods Administration


Education/Training (EDS)

Adult Learning Australia


Australian Institute of Training & Development


Department of Education and Training

(Formerly: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations)


Electrical Power Systems (ELP)

Clean Energy Council


NSW Government Industry and Investment: Energy


Department of Industry and Science

(Formerly: Department of Industry, Innovation, Science Research and Tertiary Education)


Energy Supply Association of Australia


Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria)


Essential Services Commission


Smart Grid Australia


Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering Ltd, The


Electronics (EIP)

Australian Industry Group


Technology Industry Association


Environmental Technologies (POL)

Australian Water Association


Office of environment and Heritage


Sustainable Business Australia

(Formerly: Environment Business Australia)


Waste Management Association of Australia


Clean Energy Council


Film, Videos/Other Recordings (FLM)

Australasian Performing Right Association and

Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society


Australian Copyright Council


Australian Council of Film Societies


Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts

(Formerly: Australian Film Institute)


Australian Recording Industry Association


Screenrights - the Audio-Visual Copyright Society


Financial Services (FNS)

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority


Australian Securities & Investment Commission


Dun & Bradstreet (Australia)


Reserve Bank of Australia


Food Processing/Packaging Equipment (FPP)

Foods, Processed (FOD)

Australian Institute of Food Science & Technology Inc.


Australian Food and Grocery Council


Food & Beverage Importers Association


Packaging Council of Australia Inc.


Franchising (FRA)

Franchise Council of Australia


Information Services (INF)

Australian Computer Society Inc.


Australian Information Industry Association


Investment Services (INV)

Financial Services Council


Jewelry (JLR)

Jewellers Association of Australia Ltd.


Machine Tools/Metalworking Equipment (MTL)

Australian Industry Group


Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Limited


Marine Industries

Australian Marine Export Group (AIMEX)


Boating Industries Alliance Australia


Marina Industries Association


Maritime Industry Australia Limited [formerly Australian Shipowners Association – ASA]


Ports Australia


Shipping Australia


Medical Equipment (MED)

Australian Dental Industry Association Incorporated


Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)


Medical Technology Association of Australia


Mining Industry Equipment (MIN)

Australian Coal Association


Australian Institute of Geoscientists


Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy


Australian Drilling Industry Association


Minerals Council of Australia


Mining & Energy Services Council of Australia


Oil & Gas Field Machinery (OGM)

Oil, Gas, Mineral Production/Exploration Services (OGS)

Australia Institute of Energy


Australian Gas Association, The


Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association


Australian Pipeline Industry Association


Geosciences Australia


Packaging Equipment (PKG)

Packaging Council of Australia Inc.


Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA)


Plastic Materials/Resins (PMR)

Plastics Production Machinery (PME)

Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association


Pollution Control Equipment (POL)

Australian Water Association


Sustainable Business Australia


Printing/Graphic Arts Equipment (PGA)

Graphic Arts Merchants Association of Australia


Printing Industries Association of Australia


Process Control Instrumentation (PCI)

Institute of Instrumentation, Control and Automation


Railroad Equipment (RRE)

Australasian Railway Association Inc.


Security/Safety Equipment (SEC)

Australian Security Industry Association Limited


Space Industry

Space Industry of Australia


Textiles, Clothing and Footwear (TXP)

Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia Limited


Travel and Tourism Services (TRA)

Australian Federation of Travel Agents


Visit USA Organization Australia



Australian Government Offices in the United States

Embassy of Australia


Tourism Australia


Key Australian Federal Government Agencies

Agriculture Biosecurity, Department of


Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Department of


Airservices Australia


Building Codes board, Australian


Bureau of Statistics, Australian


Communications and Media Authority, Australian


Competition and Consumer Commission, Australian


Customs and Border Protection Service, Australian


Defence, Department of


Environment, Department of then


Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of


Foreign Investment Review Board


Geosciences Australia


Health and Ageing, Department of


Immigration and Citizenship, Department of


Industry and Science, Department of


Infrastructure and Transport, Department of:


IP Australia (Intellectual Property)


Taxation Office, Australian


Therapeutic Goods Administration, Department of Health and Aging:


Treasury, The



Australian Capital Territory

Business and Industry Development


New South Wales

NSW Department of Trade & Investment


Office of Sport and Recreation


Northern Territory

Department of Business and Employment



Trade and Investment Queensland


South Australia

Department of State Development



Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts



Department of State Development, Business and Innovation


Western Australia

Department of Commerce


Department of Mines and Petroleum


Department of State Development


Market Research Return to top

To view market research reports produced by the U.S. Commercial Service please see the following website: http://www.export.gov/mrktresearch/index.asp and click on Country and Industry Market Reports.

Please note that these reports are only available to U.S. citizens and U.S. companies. Registration to the site is required and it is free of charge.

Trade Events Return to top

Please click on the link below for information on upcoming trade events.


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Return to table of contents

Chapter 10: Guide to Our Services


SelectUSA was created by President Obama in June 2011 through Executive Order 13577, as the U.S. government-wide program to promote and facilitate business investment into the United States, including foreign direct investment (FDI) and reshoring.

The program is housed within the Commerce Department and coordinates investment-related resources across more than 20 federal agencies through the Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG).

SelectUSA provides services to two types of clients: investors and U.S. economic development organizations at the state and local level. Services include:

Information Assistance:

  • SelectUSA provides information to investors on the benefits of establishing operations in the United States, as well as the information needed to move investments forward. Investors can access facts, data and local contacts for the U.S. market.
  • SelectUSA also works closely with state, local and regional economic developers to provide counseling on strategy, best practices, and on-the-ground intelligence from the Foreign Commercial Service network across more than 70 foreign markets.

Ombudsman Services: SelectUSA coordinates federal agencies to address investor concerns relating to a wide range of federal regulatory issues – helping them to navigate an unfamiliar system.

Investment Advocacy: U.S. state and local governments often find themselves competing with a foreign location for a project. SelectUSA can coordinate senior U.S. government officials to advocate to the investor to bring those jobs to the United States.

Promotional Platform: SelectUSA brings the power of the “USA” brand to high-profile events, such as the 2015 Investment Summit, to attract investors to learn about our nation’s investment opportunities. SelectUSA organizes international Road Shows and missions to trade fairs, while also offering tailored on-the-ground assistance in more than 70 markets.

Note: SelectUSA exercises strict geographic neutrality, and represents the entire United States. The program does not promote one U.S. location over another U.S. location.

For more information on SelectUSA and services provided for investors and economic development organizations please click on the following link: http://selectusa.commerce.gov/

National Export Initiative:

The President’s National Export Initiative/NEXT marshals federal agencies to provide customer service-driven services and actionable information resources that ensure American businesses are able to capitalize on expanded opportunities to sell their goods and services abroad.

The U.S. Commercial Service offers customized solutions to help U.S. exporters, particularly small and medium sized businesses, successfully expand exports to new markets. Our global network of trade specialists will work one-on-one with you through every step of the exporting process, helping you to:

  • Target the best markets with our world-class research
  • Promote your products and services to qualified buyers
  • Meet the best distributors and agents for your products and services
  • Overcome potential challenges or trade barriers
  • Gain access to the full range of U.S. government trade promotion agencies and their services, including export training and potential trade financing sources

To learn more about the Federal Government’s trade promotion resources for new and experienced exporters, please click on the following link: www.export.gov

For more information on the services the U.S. Commercial Service offers to U.S. exporters, please click on the following link: http://export.gov/australia/ourservices/index.asp

U.S. exporters seeking general export information/assistance or country-specific commercial information can also contact (800) USA-TRADE.

To the best of our knowledge, the information contained in this report is accurate as of the date published. However, The Department of Commerce does not take responsibility for actions readers may take based on the information contained herein. Readers should always conduct their own due diligence before entering into business ventures or other commercial arrangements. The Department of Commerce can assist companies in these endeavors.

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