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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards


Foreign Trade in Figures

Australia is very open to international trade. The country's trade balance was characterised by a structural deficit until 2007, but since then the country has been alternating between periods of surplus and deficit. Structurally, foreign trade is highly dependent on the Chinese economic situation, the prices of raw materials and the value of the Australian dollar.

In 2017 Australia exported USD 229.7 billion worth of goods (thus exports accounted for about 18.6% of total Australian GDP). Australia’s most valuable exported products are iron ores and concentrates followed by coal, petroleum gases gold. The country also exported meat (4% of total exports) and cereals (2.9%).
Having imported good for USD 221.4 billion, overall Australia generated a trade surplus of USD 8.4 billion in 2017. The main imports have been vehicles - especially cars - trucks and automotive parts or accessories. The main customers of Australia were China (29.6%), Japan (10.3%), South Korea (5.5%) and India (4.4%); while imports arrived mainly from China, the U.S., Germany and Thailand.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 260,940242,140236,933208,419196,150
Exports of Goods (million USD) 256,675252,981241,238188,445190,271
Imports of Services (million USD) 65,72867,08562,40953,67456,532
Exports of Services (million USD) 53,04652,60453,36848,37453,941
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 11.50.1-2.21.2-0.3
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 21.420.921.121.121.1
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 21.319.720.819.718.9
Trade Balance (million USD) -8,2767,3112,221-18,855-5,735
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -21,443-7,421-7,971-27,488-8,770
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 42.640.641.940.840.0

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2017; World Bank - 2017


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
China 31.6%
Japan 13.9%
South Korea 6.7%
United States 4.6%
India 4.2%
United Kingdom 4.0%
Hong Kong 3.8%
New Zealand 3.4%
Singapore 2.2%
Indonesia 2.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 23.4%
United States 11.5%
Japan 7.7%
Thailand 5.7%
Germany 5.3%
South Korea 4.3%
Malaysia 3.6%
New Zealand 3.0%
United Kingdom 2.8%
Singapore 2.8%

Source: Comtrade, 2017


Main Products

189.6 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Iron ores and concentrates, incl. roasted iron pyrites 20.9%
Coal; briquettes, ovoids and similar solid fuels manufactured from coal 15.6%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 7.3%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 7.1%
Artificial corundum, whether or not chemically defined; aluminium oxide; aluminium hydroxide 2.2%
Wheat and meslin 1.9%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 1.9%
Copper ores and concentrates 1.8%
Meat of bovine animals, frozen 1.7%
Unwrought aluminium 1.2%
189.4 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 8.4%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 5.8%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 3.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 3.1%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.0%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 2.9%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 2.3%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 2.2%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 1.9%
Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 1.2%

Source: Comtrade, 2017


Main Services

89.1 bn USD of services exported in 2015
Other business services
Royalties and license fees
Government services
Cultural and recreational services
Insurance services
Construction services
105.1 bn USD of services imported in 2015
Other business services
Royalties and license fees
Cultural and recreational services
Government services
Insurance services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data


Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Australian Dollar (AUD)
Exchange Rate Regime
Consequently, there is free convertibility of currency, a right to transfer profits and capital, subject to declaration of any transaction over 5 000 AUD or the equivalent in foreign currency to the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). Finally, there is an official exchange rate applicable on the day of transfer.
Level of Currency Instability
Exchange control was suspended in 1983. The Australian currency is stable and strong, especially against the US dollar since 2006.
Monetary Indicators 20132014201520162017
Australian Dollar (AUD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
Main International Economic Cooperation
Australia has signed seven Free Trade Agreements and is currently negotiating for nine new agreements.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Customs Entry Form or Informal Clearance Document (ICD) filled in; documents relative to goods transport (transport contracts: Air waybill or Bill of lading) ; all invoices or documents relative to import and which must include in particular a complete description of the goods, the currency of reference, the contact details of the seller and the buyer, the name of the vessel or the flight number of the plane used, etc.
Free Zones
For Further Information
Australian Customs website
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Non Tariff Barriers
Animals, plants and unprocessed derivatives are subject to complex phytosanitary legislation.
More than 150 agricultural products are subject to import licensing, and to very restrictive quarantine regulations.
Packaging and pallets must be accompanied by a fumigation certificate.
Some goods, such as cheese and tobacco, are subject to quotas.
Antibiotics may only be sold if authorized by the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services. Pharmaceutical products are subject  to particular conditions.
Restricted items include drugs, steroids, weapons/firearms, heritage items, plants and animals, food and protected wildlife. It is important to note that while some items may be imported, their use may be prohibited under individual State laws.
For further information:
Temporary importation of commercial goods
Information for travellers
Prohibited and restricted imports
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS)
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (en anglais)Restrictions on importation of agricultural products
Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
Agricultural sector (cereals)
Assessment of Commercial Policy
WTO webpages devoted to Australia
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the EU
Sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, inventoried by the EU

Learn more about How to Export to Australia on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.



National Standards Organisations
National organisation in charge of standards
National certification organisation
Organisation which publishes standards
Integration in the International Standards Network
Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC)
International Standard organization (ISO)
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
Obligation to Use Standards
Conforming to standards is mandatory for products such as machines, tools, household appliances, sports equipment, toys, clothes, etc. Goods which have complex technology or are potentially dangerous must undergo rigorous tests and approval procedures before they can be marketed in Australia.
Classification of Standards
AS/NZ is the national certification mark, which also covers New Zealand.
Assessment of the System of Standardization
Australians are receptive to standards being observed without knowing specific details. The EU norm and ISO standards are well known to companies and appreciated for their guarantee of the quality and safety of goods and services.
Online Consultation of Standards
ISO website
Standards Australia website
Certification Organisations
National certification organization


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Last Updates: May 2018