Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio works to make Australia safer, stronger and more prosperous. The portfolio comprises the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Austrade, the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Tourism Australia and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS).

Trade, tourism and investment are crucial to Australia’s economic prosperity, as set out in the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. The portfolio works bilaterally and through multilateral channels to reduce barriers to trade for Australian exporters and importers and assists businesses in regional areas to pursue commercial opportunities overseas. Where there is a gap in private financing markets, the portfolio provides working capital, insurance and other financial solutions to help regional businesses take advantage of overseas export and investment opportunities. The portfolio also develops sophisticated marketing campaigns to attract tourists to Australia, including into regional areas.

Australia’s free trade agreements (FTAs) open new opportunities for our regional producers, by making the overseas-sourced inputs we use in our own production more affordable, and opening our markets to the world’s consumers. They also deliver a greater range of goods and services to regional Australian consumers at more competitive prices, equipping regional Australians to benefit more from the products they sell. The recent Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11), for example, has delivered tariff reductions in a number of important markets for Australian exporters. The Government also works to secure and maintain access for our agricultural products under other countries’ technical and biosecurity regulations. In addition to the TPP-11, the Government recently signed FTAs with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru. We are working to bring these agreements into force as soon as possible.

The portfolio is implementing Australia’s stepped-up engagement with the Pacific, which will support a more resilient region and provide flow-on benefits to regional Australia. On 20 December 2018, the Australian Government ratified the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus), which will deliver sustained benefits to the region and support long-term growth. The expansion of the Seasonal Workers Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme will support increased labour mobility to regional Australia, which will directly benefit farms and businesses. The New Colombo Plan provides opportunities for Australian students to study in the Indo-Pacific region, and in 2017-18 over 30 per cent of these students came from regional areas.

As at 31 December 2018, the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio employed 3,726 staff under the Public Service Act 1999 (the Act) in Australia. Of this total, 3,541 staff (95.03 per cent) are employed in Canberra, central Melbourne and central Sydney, 180 staff in other capital cities (4.83 per cent), and 5 staff in regional areas (0.14 per cent). These numbers do not include Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio staff employed overseas.

The portfolio also employs a significant number of contracted staff in regional areas, where they work alongside staff employed under the Act to understand local issues and support the needs of local communities and businesses, including through the TradeStart program (https://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/How-Austrade-can-help/Trade-services/TradeStart).

The portfolio has staff in each state and territory, working from offices in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart, and Thursday Island. In addition, Australian passports are produced in Craigieburn and Epping, and the Australian Passport Information Service (APIS) is based in Hobart.

New Initiatives

New Posts in the Indo-Pacific

The Australian Government has committed to expand Australia’s diplomatic presence to every Pacific Islands Forum member. A total of $30.5 million has been allocated from 2018-19 to 2021-22 to establish Australian diplomatic missions in the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Niue, Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Expanding our diplomatic network will support Australian businesses, including those from regional areas, to export to and invest in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as assist Australian residents overseas.

Pacific Labour Scheme

Labour mobility initiatives are central to Australia’s stepped-up engagement with the Pacific region. These initiatives provide economic benefits to both Australia and Pacific island countries, meeting employers’ needs in rural and regional Australia, and providing the opportunity for Pacific workers to earn income and develop skills.

DFAT leads the Pacific Labour Scheme (the Scheme) in coordination with the Department of Jobs and Small Business, which leads the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) that has allowed more than 31,000 workers from Pacific countries to access opportunities in Australia since 2012.

The Scheme, which is demand driven, commenced in July 2018, building on the success of a pilot programme in northern Australia. Changes announced in November 2018, to uncap the Scheme from 2,000 places and expand it to all Pacific island nations, will allow more workers to access the Scheme, and will allow the demand from employers in regional Australia to drive the growth of the Scheme. Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are current participants in the Scheme and the Australian Government has extended invitations to Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste and Tonga. This will expand opportunities for regional Australian businesses and communities to grow and create more jobs.

Tourism

Tourism is a major contributor to regional Australia’s economic prosperity, with 43 cents from every tourism dollar spent in regional Australia. The Government has provided Tourism Australia an additional $5.0 million over two years from 2018-19 for marketing campaigns to attract Working Holiday makers. These visitors are known to stay longer and disperse more widely throughout Australia than other visitor cohorts, providing additional benefits for regional businesses needing seasonal workers, for local communities and tourism operators.

In the 2019-20 Budget, the Government made a significant investment in regional tourism infrastructure, allocating $50.0 million over three years for the National Tourism Icons Program. The Program provides funding for large-scale, iconic tourism projects both nationally and regionally, with one project being funded in each State and Territory.

The Government has invested $150 million to support tourism infrastructure and operators along the Shipwreck Coast and Great Ocean Road. Similarly, the $216 million for Kakadu National Park and the Jabiru township is a significant investment in a national tourism icon.

The Government also announced in the 2018-19 Budget that $45.0 million from Round Three of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) would be allocated to tourism infrastructure projects, to help drive tourism demand and growth  in regional Australia. BBRF Round Three opened on 27 September 2018 and closed on 15 November 2018. Funding for tourism infrastructure such as the completion of the Great Valley Trail between Bright and Harrietville and the new Australian Opal Centre in Lightning Ridge will allow communities to take full advantage of the tourism opportunities their regions have to offer.

Overseas Infrastructure Financing Power

In November 2018, the Government announced an additional $1 billion in callable capital to Efic and tabled legislation in the Parliament to create a new overseas infrastructure financing power. This announcement forms part of the Government’s package of measures to broaden and deepen our engagement in the Pacific and the wider region.

These changes will, subject to Parliamentary approval, grant Efic a new power to finance overseas infrastructure projects based on a broad Australian benefit test which recognises future and indirect benefits for Australians, such as greater participation in supply chains, access to new markets for Australian businesses, more Australian jobs, payments, dividends or other financial proceeds flowing into Australia, and stronger relationships with our regional partners, especially in the Pacific.

With a flexible mandate based on maximising benefits for Australia, and the additional lending power from more callable capital, Efic will be able to finance a wider range of infrastructure projects in the region.

Current Initiatives

Promoting Foreign Investment

Foreign investment will continue to play a crucial role in supporting the development of Australia’s economy. As part of implementation of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio will continue to promote Australia’s credentials and develop our position as a preferred investment destination. The portfolio will work to promote and facilitate increased productive foreign investment, including through awareness-raising of the significance of productive foreign investment to Australia’s economy and society. The portfolio will also continue to negotiate investment commitments as part of our free trade agreements, whilst reinforcing the significant protections in place for Australia’s national security and national interest.

Austrade will continue to lead a national approach to promoting, attracting and facilitating investment in agribusiness and food, major infrastructure, tourism and associated infrastructure, international education, international health, resources and energy, advanced manufacturing and defence, services and technology. For example, the Government recently launched the ‘Agriculture 4.0’ digital platform to better connect Australian AgTech and foodtech businesses with overseas investors and innovators (www.austrade.gov.au/agriculture40).

Business Engagement Activities

The 2018-19 Budget provided $15.0 million over four years for the portfolio to support business, including in regional areas, to better navigate the increasing challenges of operating in global markets. In addition, intensified outreach in rural and regional areas aims to maximise the benefits of international trade to regional Australia, and to ensure the perspectives of rural and regional stakeholders are reflected in the Government’s approach to trade issues.

The Government is helping Australian businesses and producers tackle non-tariff trade barriers, such as complex regulatory requirements which impede access to overseas markets. This initiative will strengthen whole-of-government efforts to assist exporters to overcome non-tariff barriers, including through the new on-line portal tradebarriers.dfat.gov.au.

The Government is working with the private sector on an industry-led Services Export Action Plan to boost the global competitiveness of Australia’s service exporters by identifying and helping to tackle barriers to the export of services.

As part of the Government’s Economic and Commercial Diplomacy agenda, our overseas network is helping support commercial outcomes for Australian businesses of all sizes, including by publishing new market insights on overseas commercial opportunities and challenges.

Supporting Jobs and Growth

The Government is providing $16.6 million from 2016-17 to 2019-2020 for new initiatives to support jobs and growth through trade and investment, including across regional Australia. As part of these initiatives, the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio is helping connect regional Australian producers to global markets, by continuing work to establish a single window for international trade (in conjunction with the Department of Home Affairs) and by pursuing mutual recognition agreements to promote and increase exports of Australian professional services.

Austrade and DFAT have delivered 121 FTA information seminars across Australia since March 2015, with two-thirds held in regional areas, to inform over 4500 business people and interested parties how to access Australia’s expanding network of trade agreements. The Australia’s Trade Through Time website (https://tradethroughtime.gov.au/) highlighting trade’s contribution to national prosperity was launched in March 2019. DFAT will also continue to expand its FTA portal as new agreements enter into force, to help businesses identify goods and services export opportunities.

Promoting Australian Capability in International Markets

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio continues to promote Australian capabilities to overseas customers and clients with the aim of enhancing Australia’s global competitiveness.

Austrade produces in-depth industry analysis and promotional materials, including Industry Capability Reports highlighting Australia’s core strengths in priority industries ranging from healthcare to tourism and disruptive technologies. These complement the Why Australia: Benchmark Report (www.austrade.gov.au/international/invest/resources/benchmark-report) which outlines the five areas underpinning Australia’s competitive advantages over international peers and our delivery of a renewed ‘nation brand’.

This strengthened approach presents a confident, contemporary and consistent view of Australia’s competitive capabilities in business, culture, design, environment, food, science, society and technology. Austrade supports the Government’s efforts to build economies of scale in new industries that leverage Australia’s competitive advantages by, for example, releasing reports promoting the use of minerals in emerging high-tech industries, such as the Lithium-ion Battery Industry Report and the Prospectus of Critical Minerals which aim to attract new investment into this fast-moving sector. Austrade’s business missions also play a significant role in promoting Australian capabilities and capitalising on global opportunities.

In the 2019-20 Budget, the Government provided Austrade with an additional $1.0 million to promote Australian exports and market development, and support exporters in specific sectors including resources and energy.

Attracting Investment into Northern Australia

The Government is working to attract investment in major infrastructure and other projects in northern Australia, with the aim of building greater links with the Indo-Pacific region and increasing Australia’s access to international markets.

The Government hosted the Northern Australia Investment Forum in 2015 and 2017 to facilitate connections between international companies and Australian experts in agribusiness, tourism infrastructure and resources and energy, with a focus on Indigenous engagement and research.

The Government, in cooperation with the Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australian Governments, will work with these and other investors to translate opportunities into investments. As part of this, the portfolio continues to support international investors with information on the various forms of land tenure and native title across northern Australia that can inform investment opportunities. Austrade has also worked with Indigenous landholders to develop a set of case studies outlining successful engagements between traditional landowners and investors.

Helping Business Make the Most of Australia’s Free Trade Agreements

Australia is currently party to 11 FTAs: the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11), the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, and bilateral agreements with China, the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, New Zealand and Chile. These FTAs provide Australian businesses with preferential access to key markets and a legally guaranteed framework for trade and investment, bringing benefits for regional producers and service industries, creating jobs for Australians, and underpinning economic growth which helps to fund essential services such as health and education.

FTAs deliver benefits to a wide range of Australian exporters and investors by giving them a competitive edge over businesses in other countries, through the elimination or reduction of import tariffs affecting the Australian beef, dairy, horticulture, wine, resources and energy, and manufacturing sectors; and enhanced market access in priority sectors for education, professional and telecommunications services. Regional Australia also benefits from reduced import costs, which enhance the competitiveness of businesses and the purchasing power of consumers.

To help regional Australian businesses connect with global markets and take advantage of Australia’s new FTAs, the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio conducts FTA information seminars in rural, regional and metropolitan locations. The FTA seminars complement the Free Trade Agreement Market Entry Grants program, which provides small and medium enterprises with targeted market entry strategies. Thirteen Australian member-based organisations will receive $750,000 in grants to help Australian small-to-medium-sized enterprises exporting to targeted FTA markets such as North Asia and TPP-11 countries.

The portfolio also works closely with relevant agencies, industry groups, business associations and firms to understand barriers to trade and investment, including those impacting businesses in regional Australia. This feedback is factored into FTA negotiating strategies and into our efforts to help Australian businesses make best use of our trade agreements.

The Government’s award-winning online Free Trade Agreement Portal (ftaportal.dfat.gov.au/) is updated to include new FTAs as they enter into force, and to reflect both goods and services commitments. The Portal promotes FTA utilisation by providing tools, including a sophisticated tariff finder, rules of origin guide, trade data on individual markets, and links to help businesses use the FTAs that will provide them with the best market access. The Portal has attracted around 250,000 users since its launch in 2015, and is being visited on average by 2,600 users per week. Most recently, the Portal was expanded to include Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) goods commitments, and the process for including TPP-11 services commitments is well underway.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Australian Government ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) on 31 October 2018, triggering the agreement’s entry into force for Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore on 30 December 2018. Australian businesses benefited from an immediate tariff reduction, and a second tariff reduction took effect on 1 January 2019.

The TPP-11 is Australia’s most comprehensive trade agreement since the establishment of the World Trade Organization in 1995 and delivers significant commercial benefits to regional Australia.

Australia’s regional exporters of goods and services will benefit from valuable new market access opportunities resulting from the elimination of 98 per cent of tariffs in the TPP-11 area. The TPP-11 boosts levels of market access with Australia’s existing FTA partners, and opens up new opportunities in Canada, Mexico and Peru. For instance, more than $5.5 billion of Australian agricultural produce will receive preferential access in TPP-11 member states.

The TPP-11 entered into force on 14 January 2019 for Vietnam, and will enter into force for Brunei, Chile, Malaysia and Peru 60 days after each country completes its respective ratification processes.

The Government is working with other TPP-11 partners to add other economies that are ready to join the agreement. Expanding the TPP-11’s membership will expand opportunities for Australian businesses, including those based in regional Australia.

Bilateral and Regional Trade Negotiations

The Government is committed to opening new markets and pursuing trade liberalisation and reforms through bilateral and regional trade negotiations. A core priority is to secure new market opportunities and greater certainty in sectors of particular importance to regional Australia, notably agriculture and food, resources, and services.

In 2018-19, the Government signed FTAs with Indonesia and Hong Kong. We are now working to bring those agreements into force. The Government attaches a high priority to the conclusion of other trade negotiations, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (which involves the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand) and the Pacific Alliance Free Trade Agreement (which involves Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru).

Australia has commenced FTA negotiations with the European Union, and discussions on a possible future free trade agreement are underway with the United Kingdom. The Government continues to pursue the resumption of negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

In addition, the Government is pursuing built-in work programs and negotiations under existing FTAs, initially those with Japan, Korea and China. In September 2018, Trade Ministers endorsed recommendations from the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA General Review, which will guide upgrade negotiations commencing in April 2019.

The Government remains open to concluding a high-quality, commercially meaningful free trade agreement with India and we are also looking for other ways to advance trade and investment links. The July 2018 report An India Economic Strategy to 2035: Navigating from Potential to Delivery sets out practical measures to increase trade and investment with India and aims to match areas of Australian competitive advantage with India’s economic and reform priorities. The Government endorsed the Strategy and agreed to an initial implementation plan of over 40 separate measures to build on.

World Trade Organization

The Government continues to support and value the rules-based multilateral trading system centred on the World Trade Organization (WTO), but considers the WTO is under significant strain and not operating as effectively as it should. The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio will continue to reinforce our commitment to the multilateral trading system and to push for a robust agenda for global trade negotiations that boosts growth and meets the evolving needs of business. The portfolio will also continue working actively on reforms to strengthen the WTO and will work in other forums, including APEC and the G20, to support the multilateral trading system.

We will continue to use the WTO dispute settlement system to defend our interests, particularly in relation to Australia’s agricultural industries. For example, we are taking action to support Australia’s wine and sugar industries to ensure that our trading partners fully comply with their WTO commitments.

In the lead up to the next WTO Ministerial Conference in June 2020 (MC12), Australia will work with others, including the Cairns Group, to continue to press for further reforms in key sectors, such as agriculture. Australia has led the Cairns Group coalition of countries for more than 30 years in support of agricultural trade reform. While FTAs deliver outcomes for Australian consumers and businesses, we can only address trade-distorting measures such as agricultural subsidies through the WTO.

Australia is leading within the WTO to commence negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce. This group will work towards updating international trade rules to ensure they keep pace with technological change. Australian exporters, including regional start-ups, could benefit from new global rules in the area of digital trade that would reduce red tape when operating in foreign markets, helping them to grow their exports.

Despite the challenges facing the WTO, there have been a number of successes in recent years that benefit our exporters. For example, Australia has been active in implementing the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation, which came into force in 2017. This agreement frees up the movement of goods across international borders and will deliver practical benefits to regional import or export businesses, as well as to Australian consumers through reduced costs.

In addition, the Government is completing its domestic treaty making process to accede to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), following the agreement of GPA parties to Australia’s accession in October 2018. Australia is also continuing to press for new disciplines in the WTO on domestic regulation in services, to address ‘behind-the-border barriers’ holding back our services exporters. Australia is also helping to drive ongoing WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies, with a view to an outcome by MC12.

The Government will be ready to recommence negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement and the Trade in Services Agreement once trading partners are ready to re-engage. The Trade in Services Agreement is a services-only negotiation covering around 70 per cent of world services trade, which will benefit regional Australian services suppliers.

TradeStart

TradeStart delivers Austrade’s export advisory services in partnership with local public sector, business chambers and industry groups throughout Australia. The goal of the TradeStart network is to assist export-ready small and medium enterprises to develop international markets for their products and services.

TradeStart Advisers provide greater access to the services of Austrade and its partner organisations, as well as direct access to Austrade’s overseas network,  to around 1,500 export-ready businesses in regional and outer metropolitan.

Of the 28 TradeStart locations, 23 are in regional areas, providing greater access to export advisory services for businesses in these regions. Ongoing projects investing in video conferencing systems will allow regional businesses, through TradeStart, to digitally connect to Austrade’s global network.

Defence Export Facility

The Defence Export Facility, administered by Efic, helps Australian exporters in the defence sector, many of which are based in regional areas, to get the finance they need to underpin the sales of their goods and services overseas. The Facility assists the defence industry to identify and pursue new export opportunities, and has already begun to issue loans to exporters. For example, with support from the Facility, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has announced its intention to purchase two Cape Class patrol boats from Austal, which will be built in the Henderson shipyard in Western Australia.

Export Market Development Grants Scheme

The Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme is an Australian Government financial assistance scheme which encourages small to medium-sized export-ready businesses to increase their international marketing and promotional expenditure to achieve more sustainable export sales.

The EMDG scheme reimburses up to 50 per cent of eligible export promotion expenses above $5,000, provided the total expenses are over $15,000. Subject to available funds, the maximum grant for eligible applicants is $150,000. Since 2013, the Government has contributed an additional $75 million to the EMDG scheme. This Budget will see an additional increase of $20 million a year for the next three years, bringing the total funding for the scheme to $157.9 million a year.

Of the 3,383 grant recipients in 2017-18, 17 per cent were from rural and regional Australia, providing $17.8 million in financial support to 582 businesses.

EficDigital

Efic is currently expanding its digital capability through the existing online platform, EficDirect—the expansion is a digitisation of the loan application process to make Efic’s business more efficient and less complex for our customers and staff. This is in line with the Australian Government’s strategy for the digital age and will enhance communication between Efic and Australian businesses, including those in regional areas.

Tourism

Tourism Australia’s marketing activities will continue to attract high value international travellers to visit Australia and disperse throughout the country. Regional Australia features prominently in Tourism Australia’s marketing activities, including the Dundee (www.australia.com/en/campaigns/visit-the-set-of-dundee-super-bowl-ad.html) and UnDiscover (www.australia.com/en/things-to-do/undiscover-australia.html) campaigns.

In 2019-20, marketing activities will evolve to focus more on Australia’s culture, character and way of life, including Australia’s Indigenous culture, and will feature the launch of a new brand campaign in key markets. Business events campaigns will continue, showcasing multiple regional locations, following the success of the Government’s Business Event Bid Fund, which in just six months has helped Australia win the rights to nine business events, including in Cairns and the Gold Coast, which will add an estimated $90 million to the Australian economy.

The Government is also continuing to work with industry on a new tourism strategy, Beyond 2020 (www.austrade.gov.au/events/beyond-tourism-2020/beyond-2020). The strategy will outline a number of initiatives to improve tourist visitation to, and their experience in, regional Australia.

The Government has designated an additional six airports as international airports, further enhancing tourism and trade links in regional Australia.

Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Strategy

Austrade and Tourism Australia have also developed a five-year Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Strategy (the Strategy) that will better coordinate efforts to attract foreign direct investment into regional tourism infrastructure.

Abundant with natural attractions, Australia boasts a significant domestic tourism market. Regional Australia is particularly well placed to capitalise on our proximity to Asia and its thriving middle class seeking unique and authentic travel experiences.

Increased dispersal of visitors, together with investor interest in opportunities beyond Australian cities and record visitor demand for high-end tourism products, has created an opportunity to pursue coordinated investment attraction and regulatory reform.

Tourism in regional Australia is on an upward trend, with visitor rates increasing by 4.9 per cent per annum on average over the past five years. International visitation increased by 3.3 per cent and domestic visitation increased by 4.6 percent over this period. Visitor spending in regional Australia is also on an upward trajectory, increasing by 5.8 per cent per annum on average over the past five years. Visitor nights spent in regional Australia grew by 55 million between 2013 and 2018.

The Strategy is supporting the development of new tourism products and experiences in regional Australia, to encourage increased overnight visitation rates. This approach is helping Australia realise the full economic and social benefits of the growing visitor economy, while contributing to the sustainable growth of Australia’s tourism industry into the future.

The Strategy is initially targeting iconic tourism regions where signs of growth in the visitor economy have not been matched by levels of investment. Each State and Territory government has selected a pilot region for the strategy, including: the Whitsunday Islands, the Snowy Mountains, Canberra, the Great Ocean Road, East Coast Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, the Margaret River and Katherine. Investor familiarisation visits to four of the pilot regions have been undertaken, with two more planned for 2019.

International Agricultural Research

The Australian Government is committed to improving agricultural productivity and profitability throughout the Indo-Pacific region, which will have significant flow-on benefits for regional Australia in areas such as biosecurity, innovation, technology, research capabilities and trade.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), an independent statutory authority within the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, is Australia’s specialist international agricultural research and development agency. ACIAR’s mission is to achieve more productive and sustainable agricultural systems for the benefit of developing countries and Australia through international agricultural research partnerships.

ACIAR is working with partner countries to identify research priorities to achieve food and nutrition security, poverty reduction and better human health in ways that also improve biosecurity, water and energy security, reduce net greenhouse emissions and are adaptable to more difficult climates. ACIAR projects have delivered direct benefits to Australian primary industries, including the control of Panama Disease in bananas and Newcastle Disease in poultry, the development of cyclone-resistant trellising systems for mangoes, and the introduction of new drought- and salt-tolerant citrus rootstocks.

ACIAR’s research programs provide rich learning opportunities for Australian researchers at all levels, many of whom are based in regional centres, and help to build and maintain agricultural, forestry and fisheries research capability in Australia.

Participation in EXPO 2020 Dubai

Australia’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai will support trade and investment objectives with the United Arab Emirates, our largest trade and investment partner in the Middle East and a gateway for Australian exports to the region. The Australian pavilion will promote Australia as an attractive place to visit, study, invest and do business. This will benefit regional Australian businesses, especially in the agriculture and tourism sectors, where there is potential to attract further trade and investment.

Promoting International Education

The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio continues to work closely with the Department of Education and Training and with all jurisdictions to promote opportunities for regional Australians under the National Strategy for International Education 2025 (www.education.gov.au/national-strategy-international-education) and Australian International Education 2025 (AIE2025, www.austrade.gov.au/australian/education/services/australian-international-education-2025) market development roadmap.

Austrade is leading on a range of AIE2025 roadmap projects to better support education providers, including those in regional Australia. This includes improving access to data and market insights, supporting small and medium enterprises to form consortia to compete at scale, and developing a common framework of key marketing messages to support regional study destinations with their marketing efforts. In collaboration with all jurisdictions, Austrade is expanding its digital marketing and social media campaigns to promote regional Australian education destinations to international students. This includes upgrades to the Government’s Study in Australia website, which provides information for existing and potential international students and showcases regional study locations in each jurisdiction.

New Colombo Plan

Since 2014, the Australian Government’s signature New Colombo Plan has awarded over 50,000 scholarships and mobility grants to undergraduates from around Australia to participate in study and internship programs in the Indo-Pacific region, helping to build institutional and people-to-people links. Regular surveys of New Colombo Plan students indicate that between 30 and 40 per cent of scholarship recipients and mobility students have identified as coming from regional areas. The Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio will continue to promote the benefits of the New Colombo Plan in deepening relationships between Australia and the Indo-Pacific region, both at the individual level and through expanding university, business and other links.

Nation Brand

The Australian Government has committed $10.1 million over four years from 2017-18 to 2020-21 to the development of a stronger nation brand for Australia, to reinforce our reputation as an internationally competitive investment destination, a great place to visit, a quality provider of education and a trusted exporter of premium quality goods and services. The industry-led Nation Brand Advisory Council continues to consult on the brand concept and the implementation strategy necessary to secure the stakeholder and public support that will be critical to the brand’s success.

A stronger nation brand for Australia will boost economic growth and support the delivery of the Australian Government’s trade and investment priorities, including in regional Australia.

Soft Power and Partnerships

The Australian Government’s consultations in regional and remote Australia, intended to inform the first ever review of the nation’s soft power resources, demonstrated that the creativity, innovation and natural attributes of regional Australia contribute to the nation’s soft power appeal internationally. The Government will continue to promote the benefits of regional and remote Australia internationally and will support international partnerships by means of cultural, sporting and other grants to individuals and organisations engaged overseas.

Landing Pads in Innovation Hot Spots

Australian Landing Pads provide market-ready Australian start-ups and scale-ups, including those located in regional Australia, with access to some of the world’s most renowned innovation hubs in San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Berlin and Singapore. Landing Pad participants have access to: a 90-day residency in a co-working space; introductions to networks of investors, mentors and strategic partners; access to a dedicated Landing Pad Manager; and an expert community that supports Australian entrepreneurs with advice to help them grow their business.

To date, over 200 companies have participated in either the 90-day residency or boot-camps delivered at Landing Pads. A 2018 survey residency program showed that 92 per cent of respondents expect to or have achieved a commercial outcome within 90 days of commencing their residency in a Landing Pad.

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