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Country Commercial Guide: Australia (Country Commercial Guides)

Country Commercial Guide: Australia (Country Commercial Guides)

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As the United States and Australia both enter an unprecedented tenth year of economic prosperity — with both countries enjoying low inflation, declining unemployment, and GDP growth rates of 3-4 percent — their commercial relationships remain wide-ranging and friendly. American company names are commonplace in the Australian market, and U.S. companies are Australia’s largest source of investment (cumulative U.S. investment in Australia totaled over $100 billion through 1999). The U.S. maintained a trade surplus with Australia of $6.5 billion in 1999, or roughly the same level as in 1998. Australia is currently the 15 the largest destination for U.S. exports, just behind larger heavyweights such as Brazil and China.

American companies are attracted to the Australian market for its familiar institutions and quality infrastructure: a stable legal and political system, a common language, excellent communications and transportation infrastructure, a high living standard, and a sophisticatedfinancial system to name a few. These factors have helped influence the decision of many U.S. companies to locate their regional centers in Australia.

Nonetheless, American exporters should be cautioned that while the Australian market has long recognized the quality and technological sophistication of U.S. products, Australian consumers and businesses are discriminating: they strive to buy the best product at the best price. Australians are quick to adopt high-tech products and services, evidenced by the extensive use of the Internet and the high penetration of cellular phones. On the other hand, they have shown themselves to be wary of purchasing goods over the Internet, although as consumers’ fears regarding security are allayed, both the B2Cand B2B markets should realize their great potential in the near future.

"Investment attraction" are likely to be key words for Australia in the year ahead. The individual states and regions are looking to take advantage of the high international exposure generated by the 2000 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sydney in September 2000 to boost investment from overseas investors. The United States, as Australia’s top investment source, will be a prime target, particularly in the biotechnology and information technology sectors. Special briefings and networking events are scheduled during the Olympics to convince foreign businesspeople that Australia warrants their investment monies.