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Additional performance reporting

Australia—a solid trade performance

Against the backdrop of a challenging global economic environment, Australia’s trade recorded strong growth in 2019.1

Following strong growth of about 11 per cent a year in 2017 and 2018, the value of Australia’s two-way trade (exports and imports of goods and services) grew by 7.5 per cent to almost $918 billion in 2019. This accounted for around 46 per cent of nominal GDP.2

In terms of trade balance, Australia experienced a record high surplus of $67 billion in 2019, sharply up from the previous two years: $23 billion in 2018 and $9.5 billion in 2017.

Commodities play a vital role in Australia’s export market, with iron ore, coal and liquefied natural gas the key products. The combined export value of these top three commodities ($209 billion) accounted for 42 per cent of the nation’s exports of goods and services in 2019. Australian services are a fast-growing export earner too, with a total value of $102 billion in 2019. Their success demonstrates the global pull of Australia’s world-class education and tourism sectors.


China remained Australia’s largest two- way goods and services trading partner in 2019, accounting for around 27.5 per cent ($252 billion) of total trade. China was Australia’s largest export destination (valued at $169 billion or 34.3 per cent of Australia’s total exports) as well as import source (valued at $83 billion or about 19.5 per cent of Australia’s import bill).

Japan was Australia’s second largest trading partner, accounting for 9.5 per cent ($87 billion), followed by the United States, with 8.8 per cent ($81 billion). Rounding off Australia’s top 10 trading partners in 2019 were Korea, the United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand, India, Malaysia and Thailand.

Australia’s two-way trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was also substantial, with total value of $122 billion. This accounted for per cent of Austrade’s total two-way trade in 2019. The combined trade value of this group now exceeds our trade with the United States and Japan.

Twelve of our 15 largest markets are in Asia and the Pacific, generating a trade value of around $590 billion in 2019. Trade in services has grown at 6.4 per cent per year for the past two decades. Although this services growth springs from a much smaller base (in terms of value), it is now helping to broaden our export mix beyond resources and agriculture.


Despite the dislocation in world trade caused by pandemic lockdowns, Australia’s record on attracting investment helps keep our economy on strong foundations. Indeed, foreign direct investment (FDI) is vital to the Australian economy—as a source of external finance for investment, and an engine for economic and employment growth.

Australia’s stock of FDI is now worth over one trillion dollars, having grown by an average 8 per cent a year since 2009. This means the stock value of FDI in Australia has more than doubled over the past decade.3

As a percentage of gross domestic product, Australia’s inward FDI stock exceeded 50 per cent in 2019, up from 39 per cent a decade ago. The European Union (EU) and North America have contributed almost half of all the investment to arrive on Australian shores.

Following an exceptional growth rate of about 14 per cent per year from 2016 to 2018, FDI from the EU rose by 6 per cent to $238 billion in 2019. The United Kingdom has recently overtaken Japan as Australia’s second largest investor. With a total FDI stock of over $127 billion in 2019, British investors now hold 12.5 per cent of the total stock value of FDI in Australia. Japan is now Australia’s third largest source of FDI, with a total stock value of $116 billion in 2019.

In recent years, there has been a solid rise in capital inflows from Asia, a trend that reflects Australia’s close ties to these fast- growing economies.

China is now Australia’s sixth largest direct investor, with a total stock value of $46 billion. Chinese FDI in Australia grew by 10 per cent in 2019 and has experienced a compound annual growth rate of 18 per cent since 2009.

Other Asian economies are also emerging as fast-growing sources of FDI (in compound annual growth rate measures). Investment from ASEAN countries has risen by 10 per cent a year to $57 billion (including Singapore, up 8 per cent $36 billion), Hong Kong by 12 per cent to $16 billion, and South Korea by 19 per cent to $8 billion.

  1. DFAT, ‘Australia’s trade in goods and services 2019’, June 2020 (using ABS cat. no. 5368.0 and cat. no. 5368.0.55.003 data, March 2020).
  2. Nominal GDP was derived from ABS, Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, March 2020, 3 June 2020 (cat. no. 5206.0), Table 3.
  3. ABS, International Investment Position, Australia: Supplementary Statistics, 2019, 7 May 2020 (cat. no. 5352.0), Table 2.


The start of 2020 has brought huge challenges for Australia, with natural disasters and the COVID-19 outbreak affecting many aspects of our economy. Fortunately, the strength, dynamism and rock-solid foundations of Australia’s economy make us resilient.

Australia’s resilience is underpinned by a diversified mix of successful industries. In 2019, the country’s services and goods industries accounted for 82 per cent and 18 per cent of real gross value added, respectively. The largest contributor was the financial services sector (generating 9.3 per cent of gross value added), followed by mining, healthcare and construction. Technology-driven sectors—professional services, education and IT—are worth over 15 per cent of total economic production.

Our trade links with near neighbours are a major factor. The Asia region is ultra- fast growing, and Australia’s network of 13 free trade agreements in force during the reporting period across Asia and the Pacific has helped agile Australian businesses to rapidly expand. Australia and the United Kingdom have recently commenced negotiations for a comprehensive trade deal that is expected to deepen our economic relationship for the benefit of Australian businesses and consumers. Others being progressed include agreements with the European Union, the Pacific Alliance, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in Asia, and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations. The deals will provide an important signal of our shared commitment to global trade liberalisation, and will play a vital role in our post-COVID economic recovery.

Australia’s ability to attract investment also helps keep the economy on strong foundations. Australia hosts approximately $3.9 trillion of foreign investment—which includes both foreign direct investment ($1.02 trillion in 2019) and portfolio investment.

Australia entered 2020 with very low public debt, by international standards. In its October 2020 Fiscal Monitor report, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that the Australian Government’s net debt was 28 per cent of GDP in 2019. This is well below the 77 per cent average for advanced economies. With low public sector debt, the Australian Government is well positioned to support economic recovery.

Australia’s economy is expected to perform better in 2020 than originally feared. The IMF forecasts that Australia’s real GDP will contract by 4.2 per cent in 2020–21, one of the lowest economic declines among 39 advanced economies. Australia’s growth will likely rebound by 3 per cent next year.

The latest IMF figures indicate that our economy is resilient. The lower-than- expected economic contraction reflects the success of Australia’s rapid, well-targeted and substantial response to contain the pandemic. In turn, this reflects the generally good management of the health crisis by our governments at both federal and state levels, health systems, hospitals, healthcare workers and public officials, which has been more successful than in major comparable countries. For advanced, emerging and developing economies, the IMF revised down its forecasts by an average 2 percentage points.

Figure 15: Australia’s top 15 export destinations for goods and services, 2019 (calendar year) Bar chart of Australia’s top 15 export destinations for goods and services, 2019 (calendar year)

Figure 16: Australia’s top 15 exports of goods and services, 2019 (calendar year) Bar Chart of Australia’s top 15 exports of goods and services, 2019 (calendar year)

International network

Austrade works to match identified international demand with Australian capacity, capability and appetite for developing international markets. We do this by identifying the most suitable markets for exporting Australian products and services, as well as the market entry strategies most likely to succeed in developing international markets. We adopt a similar process when evaluating source markets for attracting productive foreign direct investment to Australia.

Complementing Austrade’s eight regional teams are eight sectoral lead teams, which are managed by senior industry/sector specialists responsible for identifying high-growth opportunities and the international positioning of Australia’s capabilities. These teams work together across onshore and offshore operations in response to opportunities and priorities, and manage key accounts and different client groups. This structure was in operation for all of 2019–20.

At 30 June 2020, Austrade’s network comprised 111 physical locations, including 10 offices in major Australian centres, which are complemented by 32 TradeStart offices (see Figure 1 in Agency Overview). Overseas, Austrade operates in 47 markets with 69 points of presence, 11 of which also provide consular services. In addition to these locations, Austrade has established Landing Pads in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Singapore and Berlin, which are in separate locations to Austrade offices. Austrade also operates the Australian Trade and Defence Office in West Jerusalem.

The following pages provide a snapshot of our achievements during 2019–20 in each of the eight regions that make up Austrade’s international network.4


Austrade’s ASEAN region comprises nine points of presence and 97 staff across seven ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines). Austrade’s regional headquarters is in Jakarta and Singapore is home to one of five Landing Pads operated by Austrade.

During the first half of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic impacted heavily on ASEAN markets, causing supply chain disruptions and the cancellation of numerous planned activities and events. Austrade posts across the region moved quickly to ensure Australian businesses were kept informed about in-market developments through regular webinars, market insights posted on the Austrade website, and other digital engagements.

In August 2019, Austrade hosted a senior business delegation to Vietnam that included Woodside, Macquarie, Linfox and RMIT, coinciding with a visit by the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP. In February 2020, Austrade’s Jakarta office supported the visit to Australia by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, which featured the announcement that Monash University had received approval to open the first foreign university campus in Indonesia. Austrade worked closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to bring the project to fruition.

A notable success in 2019–20 was that of Malaysia’s multi-award-winning engineering and construction company Gamuda Berhad setting up its Australian office through an initial investment of $30 million and employment of 40 staff. Gamuda has since successfully partnered with BMD to be shortlisted on the NSW Government’s $1.26 billion M6 Motorway and with Laing O’Rourke on the first stage of the $20 billion Sydney Metro project.


The Greater China region comprises mainland China, the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and Taiwan. In 2019–20, Austrade operated nine points of presence and employed 100 staff in the region. Given the region’s significance, Austrade has maintained its level of resourcing, but focused on major hubs (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Taipei), and will look to strengthen resources in localities of growth and high demand, such as Shenzhen.

In Greater China, Austrade has a focus on delivering commercial outcomes for businesses in the agribusiness, food and beverages, health, advanced technologies, education, infrastructure (particularly water and environment) and energy sectors.

Seeking opportunities to facilitate productive direct investment into Australia from the region is also a priority. Austrade helped to facilitate direct investments into tourism infrastructure, agribusiness, major infrastructure projects and renewable energy, as well as the health and medical sectors, including joint research and development.

In supporting Australian business in Greater China, Austrade provided many of its services through digitally enabled platforms, allowing firms to conduct business online, and also hosted special events promoting Australian products.

In conjunction with our industry partners, Austrade conducted a series of marketing and communications campaigns to raise awareness of Australian products and services both among businesses and consumers.

In 2019, Icon Group became the first Australian company to deliver cancer care services in mainland China. With a growing burden of chronic disease, including over
3 million new cancer cases each year, China is seeking to upgrade oncology services and technology.

Austrade provided extensive support to Icon in Greater China in the form of market intelligence, introductions to key regulators and potential partners, and marketing activities.

Icon invested $11 million in a partnership with Chongqing Sanbo Brain Hospital, where Icon is delivering the fitout of a radiology centre, training for radiologists and engineers, and ongoing management consulting services. Icon is also providing training and consulting services for a radiology centre at Jinshazhou Hospital in Guangzhou under a $2 million annual contract.

The company has other projects underway in Shandong and Shanxi provinces. As part of its Greater China expansion plans, Icon also acquired Hong Kong oncology operator SunTech Medical Group in 2019. These projects build on the $1.5 billion strategic investment in Icon in 2016 by a consortium including Hong Kong’s Pagoda Capital.


As at 30 June 2020, Austrade operated from eight points of presence with 51 staff across South Asia, with its regional headquarters in New Delhi. The region covers India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. India is Australia’s eighth largest trading partner and fifth largest export market, with two-way goods and services trade valued at $30.3 billion in 2018–19. To deepen the bilateral relationship, the prime ministers of Australia and India announced a new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership following a virtual leaders summit on 4 June 2020.

Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, led the Australia–India Business Exchange 2020 business mission to India in February, during which he launched the Australia Store on Amazon India, one of more than 120 multi-sector events attended by 119 delegates from 87 Australian businesses and peak bodies. India continues to be an important part of the global pharmaceuticals supply chain and Austrade has assisted Australia’s COVID-19 response by helping partner agencies secure vital medicines from Indian suppliers.

Austrade launched an innovative #InAusTogether and #InThisTogether campaign to reassure families of the wellbeing of Indian international students in Australia—to thank them for their dedication and work in support of the Australian community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A notable export success in 2019–20 is that of Melbourne-based water technology company Rubicon, which secured an export order worth $200 million from a subsidiary of the state government of Karnataka in southwest India to modernise irrigation water delivery systems to farms.


Austrade’s North East Asia region consists of Japan, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Mongolia, with a total of 56 staff. In 2020, Austrade consolidated its footprint in Japan into the two offices of Tokyo and Osaka—with Osaka also providing consular services covering Western Japan. Austrade also maintains offices in Seoul and Ulaanbaatar. The New South Wales and South Australian governments have also co-located staff in Austrade Tokyo and Seoul to cover the Japan and South Korea markets.

Austrade’s Tokyo office collaborated with the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) to identify opportunities for Australian native foods and support their first ever export to the Japanese market (or globally). The ILSC supports the Northern Australia Aboriginal Kakadu Plum Alliance (NAAKPA) in building capability to deliver a consistent, ethical and sustainable supply of Kakadu plum. There are eight NAAKPA member companies owned by Indigenous communities, based in northern regions of the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Austrade organised targeted meetings with Japanese businesses and the Japan Superfoods Association, which has had extensive experience in successfully developing and commercialising functional native foods from South America.

Austrade assisted the ILSC delegation with their first market visit to Tokyo in mid-November 2019, coinciding with the first export to Japan of Something Wild Native Food Yoghurt—achieved through an importer identified by Austrade. This product was developed through a collaboration between Something Wild Australia and a dairy product manufacturer, Fleurieu Milk Company in South Australia. It contains Kakadu plum puree—the fruits of which were harvested by NAAKPA members—and was promoted through a collaborative event with South Australia and by in-store tasting promotions at the National Azabu premium supermarket and Nissin World Delicatessen (two high-end supermarkets in Tokyo).


Austrade has 10 points of presence and over 47 staff across 67 countries in the Middle East and Africa region, including Turkey and Pakistan.

With the postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai to October 2021, Austrade continues to progress with its plans by participating in a number of outreach activities to allow Australian businesses to take advantage of the global commercial opportunities generated through the event. Australian companies have already been successful in winning major contracts worth $150 million, including design and build consultancy, event management services, and providing environmentally sustainable solutions. With the onset of COVID-19, the region had to adapt quickly to the evolving times, bringing additional opportunities for edtech, healthcare, and digital technology solutions providers.

Austrade’s engagement with key clients resulted in notable successes in the region. For example, Austrade supported Australian crane company Marrs Contracting for the construction of the Canakkale 1915 Bridge. Once completed in 2022, the bridge will take its place in engineering history as the world’s longest span suspension bridge, connecting the European and Asian sides of Turkey near the town of Gelibolu (Gallipoli).

Edtech provider Matific entered into a partnership agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Education to provide subscriptions to their online mathematics teaching courses to public schools in the UAE. Further plans are in place to run similar pilot programs across the region.

Masdar, also known as Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, which is a subsidiary of Mubadala Investment Company, has made its first investment in Australia through its joint venture with Abu Dhabi–based advisory and development firm Tribe Infrastructure Group. Construction on the $511 million greenfield East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility in Western Australia has begun, after reaching financial close in December 2019, and is expected to be operational by the end of 2022. Austrade has been assisting Masdar since 2016, when the company first began a scoping review of the renewable energy sector in Australia.

Austrade also provided support to OBE Organic, which is achieving growing sales in Saudi Arabia for its organic beef products, and new market entry into Kuwait.


Austrade operated across 12 posts with 58 staff across Europe, in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic and Russia, as well as Israel. Austrade’s presence in the region includes Landing Pads in Berlin and Tel Aviv that offer programs for innovative Australian companies. Austrade is responsible for delivering consular services on behalf of the Australian Government in Frankfurt, Milan and Prague.

In 2019–20, we built a more comprehensive trade capability in anticipation of successful free trade agreement negotiations with the EU and United Kingdom. The Europe region continues to be a very successful source of productive foreign direct investment for Australia.

In April 2020, French energy utility company Neoen confirmed plans to build the world’s largest battery near Geelong, Victoria. Neoen’s executives say their project represents the most efficient way to increase power grid reliability. The battery will be charged from the grid, including from conventional sources, and then act as a backup when demand soars. The proposed $300 million battery will likely be capable of storing more than 500 megawatt hours of power, and deliver an output at least four times as great as the Tesla battery at Neoen’s existing Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia.


Austrade’s Americas region encompasses North and South America and the Caribbean. It has its headquarters in New York, and 90 staff working from a total of 14 points of presence across the region, of which six are in the United States. Austrade provides consular services from five of its offices in the Americas: Houston, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Toronto and Vancouver, and also operates a Landing Pad in San Francisco.

In partnership with Supply Nation, Austrade organised the first Indigenous business mission to bring Australia’s best Indigenous companies to the World Indigenous Business Forum in Canada in February 2020. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the University of New South Wales and the University of Victoria (Canada) to work towards a joint indigenous law degree.

Austrade’s offices in the Americas quickly implemented digital strategies in response to COVID-19. For example, Austrade turned a planned space delegation to the United States into the Digital Space Symposium, a partnership with the Australian Space Agency, where five US multinationals and 20 Australian space companies joined business matching, investor roundtables and networking forums. The symposium generated 13 ongoing commercial opportunities to grow our space sector.

With international students unable to travel to Australia, a new ‘Study with Australia’ digital campaign was launched across Latin America attracting over 75,000 enrolments from the region and positioning Australia as a leader in the digital delivery of education. Brazil and Colombia were top 10 education markets.

The Landing Pad program moved online and expanded its audience to a larger cohort of 300 Australian scaleups, and the Accelerating Technology Summit allowed Austrade to use industry experts to attract new interest from investors in areas such as immersive technology, retail tech and drones.

In a time of extreme disruption, the United States remained our largest source of foreign direct investment, and the number one destination for Australian scaleups.


Austrade’s New Zealand and Pacific region was established in recognition of the important role Australian businesses play in the region and in the context of the Australian Government’s Pacific Step-up agenda. Austrade maintains posts in Fiji and Papua New Guinea, but also operates from Australian offices, and has its regional headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand. Austrade has 14 staff in the region.

Austrade’s New Zealand and Pacific headquarters received special recognition on Australia Day 2020 for ‘outstanding service in exceptional circumstances’ for its consular response to the White Island volcano eruption (DFAT Australia Day Award). As part of a major team effort by New Zealand and Australian personnel, Austrade deployed staff to support victims and their families over a period of three weeks until all injured and dead were repatriated to Australia and their families returned home. Of the 47 casualties in the explosion, more than half were Australians.


Since the launch in June 2016, more than 300 companies have accessed one of Austrade’s Landing Pads, including 190 clients through the 90-day program and 119 companies through bootcamps.

In 2019–20, two cohorts—one in September and one in January—went through the 90-day Landing Pad program. However, all companies attending the 90- day program in early 2020 were forced to return home, or not visit market, due to travel restrictions.

In 2019–20, 46 companies joined our bootcamps. We delivered five bootcamps across our Landing Pads, including a water tech bootcamp to Israel in partnership with Advance Queensland, and a European fintech bootcamp in partnership with NSW Treasury and Global Victoria.

We delivered an additional three virtual bootcamps since travel restrictions were introduced. In 2019–20, a total of 77 companies joined Landing Pads across virtual bootcamps, the 90-day program and in-market services. The numbers are lower than in previous years, with feedback suggesting this is due to current travel restrictions and conditions.

Landing Pads also worked with S&T, CSIRO and AusIndustry to deliver a Women in Tech pitch event in August 2019.

4 Staff numbers presented for each region are a headcount at 30 June 2020.

Global sectors

To best assist Australian companies in internationalising, we apply a sectoral focus that ensures we support a diversified economy and capture a broad range of opportunities. In 2019–20, Austrade’s eight priority sectors were agribusiness and food; defence, advanced manufacturing and space; infrastructure and cities; international education; international health; resources and energy; services and technology; and tourism and regional investment (see Figure 17).

Figure 17: Austrade’s eight global sectors A set of icons representing Austrade’s eight global sectors

In conjunction with our eight global regions, our sectoral approach ensures we can capitalise on developments across the globe, helping businesses to leverage a range of investment and export opportunities that benefit the Australian economy. Our sectoral teams based in Australia work closely with dedicated sectoral specialists across our international network, forming a seamless community of expertise. This model allows Austrade to resource its sectoral teams to match government priorities and client demand. Increasingly, Austrade delivers its services in conjunction with partners, both in Australia and overseas.


Despite the unprecedented supply chain disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the severe 2019–20 bushfire season and widespread drought, our food and agriculture sector continued to grow, trade and feed the world. Farm gate returns were approximately $57 billion in 2019–20.5 At $48.5 billion in 2019–20,6 the total value of agricultural, fishing, forestry, and food and beverage manufacturing exports was on par with export values in recent years. Of this total, over $30 billion was attributed to food and beverage products. Australia provides clean, safe, fresh and affordable food, supported by world-leading farming practices, supply chain logistics and quality assurance and biosecurity protocols.

In the area of premium food, Austrade continues to focus on growing the export value of branded food and beverage categories. Austrade’s direct international marketing support to industry stakeholders and exporting companies has been instrumental in the growth and resilience of the sector. In 2019–20, Austrade supported packaged food exporters at key business matching events, such as HOFEx (Hong Kong), Gulfood (UAE), Asia Fruit Logistica (Singapore), China International Import Expo (Shanghai), and Fine Food Australia and Global Table (Melbourne). Agribusiness and food clients also have been highly represented in the rollout of Austrade’s Excelerate program for high- value, high-impact expanding exporters.

Inward investment into the sector continues to reflect the value propositions and opportunities that the industry provides. During 2019–20, agribusiness and food recorded 29 investment outcomes and priority milestones sourced from 17 markets. Investment interest in the growing and strategically important agrifood tech category converted to a range of investments and research and development collaborations achieved by startups, scaleups and multinational corporations. Investment in new ventures featuring plant proteins, medicinal cannabis, innovative packaging solutions, and biowaste and clean energy reflects the broadening opportunities the sector offers.

An experienced family agricultural company from Argentina was an early Latin American investor introduced to northern Australia by Austrade. The company subsequently invested in three cattle stations, with plans to increase the strategic and business value of the assets with the addition of broadacre cropping and forestry to complement the livestock operations. Before the pandemic, Latin American interest in the agricultural opportunities in northern Australia continued to grow.

While investor interest in traditional farming and livestock sectors remains, the diverse investment outcomes of 2019–20 provide a preview to the ongoing opportunities in the post-COVID-19 environment.


Increased national security and supply chain challenges, exacerbated by COVID-19, amplified the focus on the defence, advanced manufacturing and space sectors across many markets. The establishment of industry policies and programs delivered jointly by Austrade, the Australian Defence Export Office in the Department of Defence, the Australian Space Agency (ASA) and the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre identified global opportunities that mitigated the full effect of the economic slowdown for some exporters. Through this, Austrade worked towards greater diversification of Australian export products and markets. Similarly, we supported diversification of the Australian economy by attracting investment into the defence, advanced manufacturing and space sectors.

In 2019–20, Austrade delivered 850 general and tailored services to over 300 exporters in the defence, advanced manufacturing and space sectors, in addition to working with the Australian Defence Export Office to provide support to exporters at nine physical and virtual defence trade shows. Austrade facilitated 23 foreign direct investment outcomes in these sectors (including $23 million of announced investment value). Outcomes included establishing new industrial capabilities, partnerships with existing Australian companies, and investments in research and development.

As part of Austrade’s commitments under the Defence Export Strategy, defence and security directors were hired across seven priority markets, providing Australian defence exporters with enhanced market intelligence, and greater support to Department of Defence export and investment activities. Austrade also forged an agreement with the ASA, which provides a framework to co-design new projects and initiatives that support the growth of Australia’s space sector. Austrade began delivering on these initiatives, including the provision of services at trade shows deemed of strategic significance by the ASA.


The year 2019–20 ended significantly differently to how it began as cities adapted to the spread of COVID-19 and established policies to protect the health of their residents. Austrade’s work with companies that have technology solutions for cities and infrastructure became even more important at this time to support social distancing and reduce the spread of the virus. Technologies such as contactless payment systems for public transport, electronic tollways and digitised transport timetables helped communities with high population density. Australia’s infrastructure construction boom continued throughout the year and governments made commitments to bring forward additional projects to support the economic recovery from the pandemic.

During the year, Austrade led a delegation of 20 leading Australian built environment clients to the Philippines and Singapore to explore opportunities for technology deployments in city precincts and urban developments. Austrade partnered with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and PwC for the Australia–Japan Connected and Automated Vehicle seminars in Sydney and Melbourne, with speakers from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian transport departments; and a number of Australian and Japanese corporates and research institutions.

In collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the World Bank and DFAT, Austrade promoted international development opportunities and key insights to over 500 Australian businesspeople in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. The series included briefings by ADB officials on Southeast Asian project opportunities for liveable cities and opportunities in the Pacific region—both areas of strong focus for Australian exporters.


In 2019, more than 750,000 international students studied in Australia, which generated over $40.3 billion in export revenue (8.2 per cent of total export revenue) and supported nearly 250,000 jobs. The sector is made up of small businesses, schools, private colleges, universities, research centres, and edtech and other service providers.

Austrade has whole-of-government leadership for promoting Australian education and coordinating in-market activities, and is the custodian of the student-facing digital channels, including studyinaustralia.gov.au. In a first for Austrade, we worked closely with all states and territories to deliver a shared presence at the 2019 Australian Education International Conference, as well as a joint research project to promote regional Australia. Building on the direction set by the Council for International Education, we piloted the Study Australia Partnership (a new way of working with all study clusters) during COVID-19 to manage crisis communications. This effort enabled us to reach new audiences and play an important role in informing, uniting and inspiring the sector and students during a very challenging time.

In anticipation of slowing global demand for Australian education, risks to social licence and emerging student preferences, we led work on the new ‘Study with Australia’ narrative. This project seeks to better understand and articulate Australia’s capability in online, transnational and offshore education delivery. In the first half of 2020, we piloted a new partnership with FutureLearn to promote access to Australian education, no matter where a student is located. This campaign involved more than 50 short courses from 20 Australian providers, and attracted 700,000 learners to the Australian collections page.

COVID-19 has placed enormous pressure on the international education sector, its delivery models and recruitment pipelines—and, of course, students themselves have been greatly impacted during these unprecedented times. We supported the work of the Global Reputation Taskforce, formed in January 2020, to advise on critical matters relating to international education marketing and communications and market conditions. We continue to partner with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment and the Department of Home Affairs to influence policy and assist clients in navigating new models and ways of working.


Austrade is actively supporting Australian exporters and foreign direct investors across the biotechnology, clinical trials, medical devices and diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, digital health, health services, aged care solutions and complementary medicine sectors through digital marketing and targeted investment attraction strategies. In 2019–20, Austrade delivered over 600 trade services to Australian health sector exporters, supporting around $250 million in exports, a 16 per cent increase on the previous year.

During the COVID–19 pandemic, Austrade partnered with the state governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, as well as AusBiotech and MTPConnect, to deliver a ‘Team Australia’ delegation to a virtual Bio Korea 2020 conference in May 2020. A total of 23 Australian businesses participated and attended over 100 one-on-one business matching meetings. Austrade also worked with state and federal partners to identify and map Australian capabilities in digital solutions, including telehealth, as well as critical medical suppliers needed in the pandemic.

In 2019–20, Austrade helped deliver 26 foreign direct investment outcomes, an increase of over 40 per cent compared to 2018–19. China Grand Pharmaceutical and Healthcare announced its collaboration with the Institute for Glycomics, Griffith University, to invest in co-development and global commercialisation of a new drug for human parainfluenza virus. This is the largest preclinical investment of its kind attracted to an Australian university. Global pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced its additional capital investment and continued its commitment to manufacture vital drugs in its state-of-the-art North Ryde facility in Sydney. There was a 24 per cent increase in investor activity in the digital health sector, showing investor interest in the Australian market. US-based HMS (Health Management Systems)—one of the foundation partners in the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre— made a strategic investment of $11 million in Victorian leading digital medication management company MedAdvisor to tackle the global issue of medication nonadherence, and to help the company drive its domestic and international growth and further technology development.


In 2019–20, Austrade delivered 1,100 services to 600 resources and energy companies, and 230 international mining and energy trade opportunities were provided to Australian companies. These activities resulted in 84 trade outcomes, 95 international agreements or contracts, and 14 outward investment outcomes. One example of a significant trade success that Austrade supported was a $56 million contract that Hoffman Engineering secured with a Peruvian mining company.

Austrade continued to provide international industry insights to Australian resources and energy companies through a range of avenues, including newsletters, industry briefings, publications, podcasts and various social media channels. Key activities during the year included Austrade facilitating the largest ever Saudi Arabia mining delegation to attend the International Mining and Resources Conference held in Melbourne in November 2019, and coordinating industry engagement with delegates from Chile, Peru and India. Austrade also led the federal government involvement in Western Australia’s Resources Technology Showcase event in November 2019, which saw participation from the majority of major mining and oil and gas companies. The event was a public-facing celebration of the technological breakthroughs that have made Australia’s resources industry the most innovative and competitive in the world.


During 2019–20, Austrade helped Australian companies in key digital technology growth areas—cybersecurity, fintech, blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the immersive and creative technology sectors of virtual and augmented reality, digital games and screen—to connect to new markets, build their knowledge, showcase their capability and secure commercial deals.

Cybersecurity continued to be a key growth area, with increasing government and private sector demand for technologies and services solutions. In 2019–20, Austrade continued working closely with the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network (AustCyber), signing a collaboration plan to facilitate promotion of Australian industry capability. Austrade also seized on the continued strong global growth in the digital games sector. To facilitate trade and investment opportunities, Austrade, in conjunction with state governments and the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), hosted leading Chinese games development and distribution companies (Tencent, TapTap) at Melbourne International Games Week in October 2019, where they met over 70 Australian businesses. With global trade events cancelled due to COVID-19, Austrade responded by collaborating with IGEA to deliver a digital series of seminars on pitching to US businesses and a digital business matching event, plus a virtual China bootcamp to tap into the COVID resilience of the sector in these leading markets.

With a strong financial services sector and the continued growth of fintech, Austrade forged global connections with government, industry and business to help Australian companies succeed in global markets. Austrade partnered with Insurtech Australia to run a pitch practice session for over 15 of the association’s members and corporate partners in preparation for one of the largest insurtech conferences globally in Las Vegas in September 2019. Austrade also helped Australian tech companies showcase their solutions to customers and investors from ASEAN. Working with the Australian Technologies Competition, Austrade delivered an Australian Innovation Showcase with the Victorian Government. Of the 19 selected Australian tech companies that pitched to a panel from AirAsia Digital’s RedBeat Ventures, AT&T and Scale Investors, 12 companies went on to explore opportunities to integrate their tech solutions into AirAsia’s emerging customer-centric platforms.


Over the last seven years, regional Australia has not shared in the same level of investment in tourism infrastructure as our capital cities, despite greater visitor dispersal beyond capital cities. With increasing demand for activities that offer distinctive regional or nature- based experiences, and with increasing domestic and international visitation, Austrade—in partnership with Tourism Australia—developed the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Strategy 2016–2021. In its third year, the strategy focused on working with state and territory governments and local stakeholders to raise the profile of regional Australia as a compelling place to invest through a combination of regulatory reform, awareness raising, data provision and investment facilitation.

In the period from July 2019 to March 2020, the partnership facilitated site visits for six international investors for tourism investment projects. The global pandemic shifted Austrade’s activity to a recovery focus, along with facilitating those projects already in the pipeline. Austrade continues to facilitate inward investment in a bid to bring new brands and product into the Australian market. One such example is the entry into the market of YOTEL, which uses cutting-edge design innovation and technology to maximise guest experience in its space-saving hotels. YOTEL is currently building its first hotel in Melbourne, while working with Austrade to explore opportunities in other locations.

Approved Destination Status scheme

The Approved Destination Status (ADS) scheme is a bilateral arrangement between the Chinese Government and a destination country that establishes a quality framework for Chinese tourists to undertake group leisure travel to that country. The scheme is instrumental in building people-to-people ties between Australia and China and also facilitates the bilateral relationship that underpins free and independent travel.

Australia was one of the first Western countries to be granted ADS status in 1999, and August 2019 marked 20 years of the scheme in Australia. Over 100 inbound tour operators and 2,500 tour guides are now approved to participate in the ADS scheme. Inbound tour operators and tour guides must abide by the ADS Code of Business Standards and Ethics. The code sets out the minimum quality standards for providing tourism services to Chinese group tours.

Austrade continuously seeks to improve the quality of the tourism experience offered to Chinese travellers under the ADS scheme. In 2019–20, Austrade partnered with the Australian Tourism Export Council to provide training to tour guides and inbound tour operators through the China Guide Ready and China Host programs. The online programs upskilled stakeholders to prepare for market recovery following COVID-19, enabling guides and operators to continue to provide world-class service to ADS tourists when they are able to return.

5.Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), ‘Agricultural commodities: March quarter 2020’.

6.ABS, International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, July 2020, 3 September 2020 (cat. no. 5368.0), Table 32a

How we work with clients

Austrade works with clients by delivering services they value—when, where and how they need those services. When we talk about our clients, we refer to Australian companies looking to enter or expand in global markets, foreign investors looking to grow their business in Australia or invest in greenfield opportunities, and, sometimes, to the foreign buyers of Australian goods and services. All have a role to play in Australia’s economic prosperity and we provide a range of services and connections across this spectrum.

We take time to understand our clients’ needs. We use our connections, information, advice and the badge of government to assist our clients. Our services help clients navigate the complexity of international business, create opportunities and reduce risks.

During 2019–20, Austrade continued to lead government assistance at a national level to promote, attract and facilitate productive foreign direct investment in Australia.

Given the global challenges as a result of COVID-19, and the extensive disruption and fragmentation of global supply chains, securing investment to strengthen and enhance Australia’s productive capacity and international competitiveness remains an important focus for Austrade.

Restrictions on airfreight and other constraints have meant clients have been unable to access existing customers. This has given greater impetus to Austrade’s efforts to help our clients expand into new markets and diversify their client base.

Early in 2020, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, approved a revised list of priority sectors to enable Austrade and state and territory counterparts to target investment opportunities delivering the greatest economic benefit in the post-COVID investment environment. The refreshed priorities bring sharper focus and better reflect current and emerging priorities across industry and government. The priorities are resources and energy; circular economy; defence, advanced manufacturing and space; digital technologies; agribusiness and food; health industries; and infrastructure and tourism.

Austrade provides services to support investors in partnership with states and territories, including:

  • initial coordination of all investment enquiries and assistance
  • information on the Australian business and regulatory environment
  • market intelligence and qualified investment opportunities
  • identification of suitable investment locations and partners in Australia
  • advice and assistance on Australian government programs and approval processes.


In developing, reviewing and improving its client services, Austrade adopts a client-centric approach, undertaking discovery work with clients so that we can understand their needs, and develop solutions that meet their requirements. During 2019–20, Austrade launched a number of new products, and continued development work on a number of others. The ultimate goal is to provide a seamless end-to-end set of services to exporters— or potential exporters—that provide them with the information they need to make decisions about whether to export, what to export, and where to export. This will come under the umbrella of the Export Guide (see below).

For information on demand trends, competitive environment, laws and regulations, doing business in a particular market, information on grants, and funding for particular products and markets, Austrade offers its Export Market Profiles service. This product went live in March 2020, covering some 50 product–market combinations, with more in development.

Austrade also enhanced a number of its existing services, including Find Export Markets, a tool that helps clients understand which markets have the highest potential for them, and how to make that assessment. A new initiative, which targeted food and agricultural product clients, came online in April 2020.

Austrade’s Trade Information Service centralises information about regulations impacting exports (with a focus on commercial insights). A prototype launched in June 2020, initially focusing on high- potential markets for honey and mango exporters. The next phase of expansion will see the service broaden to other horticultural products.

Supporting emerging exporters is the International Readiness Indicator, an online tool to help Australian businesses determine whether they are ready for exporting. The indicator draws on Austrade’s experience in assisting Australian firms to enter international markets. It focuses on the key aspects of what it takes to be ready for export and compete successfully in overseas markets. During the year, we undertook development work to improve ease of use.

We also undertook discovery work with clients for Find an Opportunity, which will help match Australian suppliers to global buyers. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded—and access to existing customers and markets became restricted—the approach to this discovery work evolved to help clients expand their reach to new markets.

When complete, the Export Guide will bring all the digital tools together to offer a seamless end-to-end digital journey for new and inexperienced Australian exporters to help them work through their export path. The user will not have to make a choice about which tool to use; rather, the guide will ask the user questions, and steer them through the service experience.


In 2019–20, Austrade developed a customised service called Excelerate. This service offers clients the full suite of Austrade services, including a global engagement manager who puts together a global team to work with the client on an agreed action plan. Austrade offers Excelerate on an invitation-only basis to firms that have the highest growth potential to contribute to Australia’s economic prosperity through export revenue or job creation. To be invited onto the program, firms need to demonstrate they are in, or approaching, a growth phase; have the resources and capacity to sustain the expansion; have a track record of success and innovation; and are a recognised leader in their field. This approach ensures that resources are allocated to the firms that can deliver the most impact.

When fully operational, Excelerate will offer services for the specific needs of five client segments: new exporters, expanding exporters, ‘born global’ companies, global leaders, and investors. Austrade is exploring a fee structure around the Excelerate service, but it is currently being offered free of charge.

The expanding exporter service targets businesses with established revenue from at least one export market. The first of the five Excelerate segments to be developed, this service moved out of the trial phase and started scaling up at the end of the first quarter of 2020. Despite significant challenges presented by the bushfires and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 150 clients were on the program by June 2020.

Austrade used the experience of designing and rolling out the expanding exporter service to rapidly kick off development of a pilot service to meet the specific needs of ‘born global’ companies—innovative technology companies that are addressing a large market, can scale quickly, have a product and market fit, and capacity to grow in international markets. Austrade is iterating the core Excelerate service to focus on service concepts that are targeted to ‘born global’ companies, including connecting clients to investors, connecting clients to peers and mentors, and delivering more value with less time investment.

Austrade developed a pipeline of firms for the Excelerate service by analysing existing Austrade data such as the Export Market Development Grants scheme, but also by forging new partnerships with organisations such as CSIRO, Export Finance Australia and the Australian Defence Export Office. A trial to identify businesses that will benefit from the Excelerate program, using artificial intelligence and regression modelling, is in progress. Austrade will use the pipeline to target high-potential firms for the Excelerate service.

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

At an agency level, Austrade worked with partners such as the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, CSIRO, Export Finance Australia, and state and territory governments to provide enhanced trade and investment services and support the government’s trade and investment agenda.

Collaboration is also supported by the co-location of Export Finance Australia staff in Austrade’s offices in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

Austrade drives a ‘team Australia’ approach with state and territory governments to amplify Australia’s strong trade, tourism, investment and international education prospects in a competitive global marketplace. Austrade uses platforms such as the joint Australian and state and territory government Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting and Tourism Ministers Meeting, and supporting officials-level forums, including providing secretariat support to ensure effective functioning of these meetings.

The Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting took place twice in 2019–20, building shared awareness of trade and investment trends and facilitating collaboration on policy, services and promotional activities. This forum was supported by eight meetings of Australian and state and territory government officials, including the Senior Officials Trade and Investment Group, the National Investment Advisory Board and the National Trade Working Group. These meetings provided an opportunity to discuss global trade and investment outlooks, trade negotiations, enhanced collaboration in overseas markets, and joint major events and promotional activities.

They also provided an opportunity to progress policy initiatives to support growth sectors such as critical minerals, and to address issues such as non-tariff trade barriers, visas, and impediments to investment. For more information on policy initiatives, refer to Part 2, Report on Performance.

The Tourism Ministers Meeting met twice in 2019–20. The Australian Standing Committee on Tourism met eight times, which included six virtual meetings. Topics discussed at the meetings included implementation of the Tourism 2020 strategy, development of the next strategy, impacts of and response to COVID-19, and tourism data needs. For more information on tourism policy initiatives, refer Part 2, Report on Performance.

Austrade also hosted a quarterly International Education Marketing Forum with state and territory international education professionals to discuss opportunities for joint marketing and promotion. For more information on international education, refer to Part 2, Report on Performance.


The outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 had an immediate impact on Australia’s links with the world. International passenger air travel was significantly reduced, and so were the exports and imports reliant on airfreight services.

The $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), announced on 1 April 2020, started to reconnect Australia’s international airfreight supply chains. These efforts enabled the delivery of Australia’s high-value perishable exports to international customers, facilitated imports of critical medical supplies to support Australia’s COVID-19 response, and prevented job losses in businesses and producers in rural and regional Australia.

On 9 April 2020, within days of the announcement of the IFAM, the first Australian exports under the program left Australia—premium salmon to Taiwan. Over the next three months to 30 June 2020, over 30,000 tonnes of high-value, time- sensitive exports secured assistance under the mechanism.

Within the first three months of its existence, the IFAM had supported exports of Western Australian rock lobster to the Middle East and strawberries to Asia; South Australian tuna and abalone to Singapore and Hong Kong; Tasmanian salmon to China; Queensland pork to Hong Kong, Cairns lobsters to China, and tuna to the United States; Victorian lamb to the Middle East and Europe; and New South Wales tuna to Japan, and horticulture to Asia. Regional airfreight connections were also made from Cairns and Toowoomba, and domestic air bridges established from Darwin and Hobart.

The IFAM assisted producers across the country, big and small, to keep meeting supply contracts with their international customers. Thousands of direct and indirect regional jobs, such as those in the Western Australian rock lobster industry, have been underpinned by IFAM flights. Job losses in small towns, such as Tammin in Western Australia, were also prevented because IFAM flights delivered chilled lamb from the local abattoir to Middle Eastern buyers. Businesses in small towns used IFAM flights to keep their fishers and farmers in jobs.

Securing critical medical imports was also a program priority. The IFAM facilitated the import of ventilators from Asia and Europe; personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies for state and territory governments; manufacturing components for PPE production; transhipment of critical medicines; radioactive medicines for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation; and models for COVID-19-related vaccine development.

The IFAM was hosted and led by Austrade, and delivered in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment; the Department of Defence; the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications; and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

To oversee the program, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, appointed Mr Michael Byrne as International Freight Coordinator-General, while the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, appointed Air Vice-Marshal Margaret Staib AM CSC as Australian Government Freight Controller. Mr Byrne and Air Vice-Marshall Staib reported to the joint Airfreight Deputy Secretary Board, chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. Through this forum, the IFAM is part of a national, coordinated and prioritised airfreight response.


Austrade’s TradeStart network is delivered in partnership with state and local governments, business chambers and industry groups. In 2019–20, the national team of 32 advisers supported businesses with implementing their exporting plans, and also with navigating government
assistance for businesses impacted by bushfires and COVID-19.

Through the TradeStart network, Austrade provided practical export advice to over
1,400 exporters in 2019–20, in addition to services and assistance from partner organisations.

After finalising new four-year contract arrangements with partners, 2019–20 saw new partners joining the national network in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Brisbane. With contract
negotiations continuing for Victoria, interim arrangements were put in place for the year.

For TradeStart locations and partners around Australia during 2019–20, see Appendix A .


Austrade is implementing an Indigenous International Business Strategy to assist more Indigenous businesses to succeed internationally. In 2019–20, Austrade:

  • identified Indigenous businesses with international potential
  • worked with partners to increase awareness of, and access to, export support services and assistance among Indigenous businesses
  • helped connect services across government, and between government and the private sector, to provide seamless assistance to Indigenous businesses.

Key to delivering the strategy has been the development of strong connections with Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies. Austrade has also built networks with foreign governments, and Australian and overseas private sector organisations, accelerators and
universities. As well, Austrade is working closely with Supply Nation, Australia’s Indigenous supplier diversity organisation, combining the key capabilities of both organisations to focus on advancing international outcomes for Indigenous businesses, and leveraging Supply Nation’s
knowledge and existing networks.

An outcome of this collaboration was an Indigenous Trade Mission to Canada in October 2019. Supply Nation and Austrade led a mission of Indigenous businesses focused on the resources and construction sectors, meeting with leading resources firms and Canadian Indigenous businesses. The mission also participated in the World Indigenous Business Forum in Vancouver
as part of a total Australian delegation of over 60.

As part of its commitment to reconciliation, diversity and support for the Indigenous business community, Austrade identified three Indigenous candidates who will be posted to trade commissioner roles in key markets during 2020–21. This is the first time Austrade has applied Australian Public Service affirmative measures to identify and recruit Indigenous officers for
trade commissioner roles.


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

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

In 2019–20, Austrade granted 42 new approvals in response to 50 applications from 27 applicants. This compares to 20 approvals, 55 applications and 22 applicants in 2018–19.

Proposed projects were in the following regions:

  • Africa—3 (6 per cent)
  • Americas—1 (2 per cent)
  • Central Asia—2 (4 per cent)
  • Indo-Pacific—18 (36 per cent)
  • Middle East—26 (52 per cent).

In 2019–20, 41 proposed projects (82 per cent) were commercially funded, while the remaining nine (18 per cent) were funded by international development agencies.

Media and events

Austrade was featured in external media coverage more than 200,000 times through 2019–20, with a cumulative potential reach of 4.5 billion people.

Business- and trade-focused outlets led coverage of Austrade initiatives throughout the year, including The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, MarketWatch, The Sydney Morning Herald, The West Australian, Farm Weekly and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

To contribute to positive coverage of Austrade and government initiatives that support trade and investment, Austrade provides media management, content and speechwriting services to the agency’s executive, broader network and to government.

Austrade fields hundreds of media enquiries each year, and develops media releases, video scripts, articles and speeches aimed at trade and investment audiences domestically and overseas.

Austrade activities that attracted the most media coverage in 2019–20 included:

  • grants assistance for exporters affected by bushfires and/or COVID-19
  • the International Freight Assistance Mechanism, which helped exporters get goods to overseas customers after the COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted global airfreight capacity
  • the Australian Export Awards, which recognise successful exporters from across the country
  • the Australia–India Business Exchange, which supported the entry of Australian businesses into the India market.


Austrade corporate social media channels increased their following by 45 per cent in 2019–20, which is double the 22 per cent growth rate of 2018–19. The total Austrade social media ecosystem includes two WeChat accounts, one Weibo account, two Instagram accounts, one LinkedIn account, two YouTube accounts, thirteen Twitter accounts, and two Facebook accounts. Shared social media (user- generated content) continues to cultivate a very engaged and positive community across Austrade staff, partners, clients and the wider community.

In Austrade’s owned social media, engagement rates doubled and ranked highly compared to industry benchmarks. In LinkedIn, we achieved an average engagement rate of 6 per cent, which sits well above the 0.54 per cent LinkedIn industry benchmark. Since the launch of the corporate Instagram account in January 2020, we achieved an engagement rate of 5 per cent, which is also above the 3.5 per cent Instagram industry benchmark. This indicates that the content syndicated across channels resonates well with our audiences.

Social media traffic to the Austrade website increased strongly, with over 32,000 users in 2019–20 coming from social media, which is double the number in 2018–19.


Austrade is implementing research to gather data across global media, social media and international audience groups in order to understand the impact the 2019–20 bushfires had on international perceptions of Australia. The research project, called ‘Global Sentiment Tracker’, is being conducted in collaboration with DFAT and Tourism Australia.

A global survey explored international perceptions of Australia and its reputation in light of the Australian bushfires. The survey ran in seven markets—China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States— for a period of two weeks in the second half of February 2020. The audience groups surveyed were education (students and parents), products (consumers), trade (global businesses), tourism (travellers) and investors.

In addition, Austrade undertook social media listening across nine languages to monitor international conversations about the bushfires, and conducted qualitative analysis of international media coverage focusing on loss of life, destruction of property and impact on wildlife.


Austrade uses digital direct mail to reach a range of target audiences within Australia and offshore. Regular e-newsletters include:

  • Export Update, which provides the latest in export news and events, success stories, plus information to help Australian exporters do business around the world
  • Investment Update, which contains global investment news and commentary, reports on the investment climate in Australia, and success stories from foreign investors
  • Agribusiness and Food News, which includes news, business opportunities and events for agriculture and food clients.

In 2019–20, we had 62,115 newsletter subscriptions across eight newsletters.

With a database of over 50,000 contacts, Austrade also invites targeted groups of clients to relevant industry events, seminars, webinars and business missions. Approximately 700 such campaigns were sent to a total of over 1.4 million recipients in 2019–20.

Continuous analysis of metrics, such as open and click-through rates, and A/B testing, enables us to modify the types of information we are providing, so we can improve the relevance and utility of the content for our clients. Austrade is developing a subscriber preference centre to deliver more timely and personalised content to clients.


The 57th Australian Export Awards ceremony took place in Canberra on 3 December 2019. Held in the Great Hall at Parliament House, the national awards ceremony honoured 94 finalists from across the nation. Together, these organisations generated over $7.8 billion in export earnings and employ more than 34,000 Australians.

Hosted by Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, 13 businesses were recognised as Australia’s top exporters across the award categories. Taking out top honours was Brisbane-based design company Populous, which received the 2019 Australian Exporter of the Year award for its outstanding achievements in overseas markets.

In recognition of the positive contribution foreign direct investment makes to Australia’s economy, Investment Awards were presented to three international companies—SGSP (Australia) Assets, Mulpha Australia and sonnen Australia.

Australian animation company Animal Logic was inducted into the Australian Export Awards Hall of Fame. It has previously won the Creative Industries category three times.

The 2019 awards program included an export masterclass, and networking with ministers and members of parliament. In addition, an investment forum, hosted by Mr Birmingham, brought together some of Australia’s political and economic leaders, along with prominent international investors.


Australian Exporter of the Year and Professional Services Award

Populous – Brisbane (QLD)


Agribusiness, Food and Beverages Award

Essence Group – Sydney and Nowra (NSW)

Creative Industries Award

Rising Sun Pictures – Adelaide (SA)

E-commerce Award

Swisse Wellness – Melbourne (VIC)

Emerging Exporter Award

Koala Sleep – Sydney (NSW)

International Education and Training Award

The University of Adelaide – Adelaide (SA)

International Health Award

Leica Biosystems – Melbourne (VIC)

Manufacturing and Advanced Materials Award

Marand Precision Engineering – Melbourne (VIC)

Minerals, Energy and Related Services Award

Microbiogen – Lane Cove, Sydney (NSW)

Regional Exporter Award

Care Essentials – Geelong North (VIC)

Small Business Award

Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils – Osborne Park, Perth (WA)

Sustainability Award

Modibodi – Balmain, Sydney (NSW)

Technology and Innovation Award

Seeing Machines – Fyshwick, Canberra (ACT)

Investment Award winners

Significant Investment Award

SGSP (Australia) Assets

Regional Investment Award

Mulpha Australia

Research and Development Investment Award

sonnen Australia


Austrade coordinated the minister- led Australia–India Business Exchange in February 2020. The trade mission enabled 119 delegates from 87 Australian businesses and peak bodies to explore and initiate new export opportunities in the fast-growing consumer market of India. The Australia–India Business Exchange delivered six bespoke sector programs across six Indian cities, with two programs continuing on to Sri Lanka.

Delegate feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with over 67 per cent of survey respondents reporting they will return to India within 12 months, circumstances permitting (notably, an additional 20 per cent of respondents already had a local presence). Austrade will assist these businesses and monitor long-term outcomes. In addition:

  • all respondents indicated most or all of their participation objectives were met
  • all respondents thought participation delivered an advantage to their organisation
  • 82 per cent developed business relationships with new contacts, key decision-makers or customers
  • all respondents rated Austrade’s performance as either extremely good, very good or good.

The delegation’s key messaging, ‘Australia—open for business’, achieved a potential reach of just over 111.5 million people across print, online and social media (including Twitter) in the Australian and Indian markets. In conjunction, bilateral meetings were held with senior Indian Government ministers and the private sector. The impact of the Australia–India Business Exchange was enhanced by the additional promotional event hosted by Tourism Australia and the participation of New South Wales and Victorian state ministers responsible for trade.


In November 2017, and in response to requests from industry made to the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, the government announced a commitment to developing a stronger nation brand to better position Australia and enhance our global competitiveness. The new brand will reinforce Australia’s reputation as a trusted exporter of premium-quality goods and services, an internationally competitive investment destination, a great place to visit, and a quality provider of education.

Austrade was tasked with delivering this industry-led, government-enabled initiative, on behalf of the whole of government.

In June 2018, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, the then Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, announced the formation of Australia’s Nation Brand Advisory Council. Chaired by Mr Andrew Forrest AO, non- executive chairman of the Fortescue Metals Group, the council includes Australian business leaders from a cross- section of some of the country’s most iconic businesses, technology firms and arts institutions. The role of the advisory council is to provide strategic advice and to encourage industry engagement and advocacy in relation to the development of Australia’s nation brand. The council has met eight times since June 2018, including twice in 2019–20.

In 2019–20, the new nation brand was progressively released to government. In May 2020, Australian federal government departments and agencies began using the nation brand. In June 2020, state and territory governments were invited to start using the nation brand, and Austrade has run workshops with key agencies in each jurisdiction to support rollout.

As the nation brand does not use a one- size-fits-all model, Austrade consulted state and territory governments on how their brands are managed. As part of this process, we made presentations to the Australian Standing Committee on Tourism, the Senior Officials Trade and Investment Group and the National Investment Advisory Board in 2019.

We directly consulted over 480 senior industry representatives during the brand development process, from industries including advanced manufacturing and defence; food and agriculture; creative arts and services; education; resources and energy; international health; major infrastructure and urban services; services and technology; and tourism and regional development.

International and domestic market testing continued in 2019, with over 16,000 people over the course of the project involved in testing the brand development. Both qualitative and quantitative market testing was undertaken here in Australia and in seven international markets (China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States). Semiotics testing was also undertaken to understand any international cultural risks associated with the design.

In 2020–21, Austrade is preparing to fine- tune and progressively roll out the nation brand to Australian government agencies, businesses and industry. Austrade will undertake ongoing activities to support Australian businesses to understand and adopt the new nation brand.