Message from the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment

The Hon Dan Tehan MP

Official portrait of the Minister

Australia is, and will continue to be, a world-class provider of services. The services sector accounts for nearly three quarters of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than four out of five Australians.

Australia’s services sector has an important role to play in our health and economic recovery coming out of COVID-19. Our services businesses will have a positive impact on recovery not only in Australia, but across the world.

While Australian world-leading services firms have contributed significantly to our nation’s GDP, there is room to boost services exports as a greater proportion of our total exports. There is opportunity to capitalise on untapped export potential, and the strategic partnership generated between industry and government through the Services Exports Action Plan can play a crucial role in helping more services firms succeed in overseas markets.

Despite setbacks to our economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia is well placed to bounce back strongly. As economies gradually reopen, Australia will again look to tourism and international education — our two largest services exports that accounted for over 60 per cent of total services exports before the pandemic — to support our economic recovery. At the same time, it will look to the expansion of other services exports. This is where the Services Exports Action Plan – the first international strategy for services exports beyond tourism and international education – can play a key role.

This Action Plan lays out a strategic framework alongside practical steps to boost services exports. There are five macro-level outcomes that capture long-term goals identified by Australia’s services industries. Keeping these outcomes in mind, government and industry have together identified immediate actions to address issues faced by businesses across the breadth of Australia’s services sector as well as by specific industries. The five outcomes and related actions form the core of this Action Plan.

Going forward, the Action Plan will play a crucial role in providing a roadmap for overcoming the impediments Australian services exporters face.

There is enormous potential for international growth in Australian services exports across many areas of expertise from professional, financial, health, creative, to specialist mining services as well as in emerging sectors such as in digital services and e-commerce. Australia can leverage our comparative advantages, including our strong education and training system, multicultural society, well-developed regulatory settings, and our role as a promoter of strong international standards to support services export growth.

Our proximity to many of the world’s fastest growing economies across Asia and our extensive network of free trade agreements provide strong opportunities for our innovative and high-quality offerings across the breadth of Australia’s services sectors. In this context, ensuring the competitiveness of the Australian services sector is highly important to our economic recovery after COVID-19.

I am pleased to see that the development of this Services Exports Action Plan is a result of an innovative and unique partnership between government and industry. This partnership will continue with both government and industry working collaboratively to implement initiatives – starting with the 81 ‘actions’ identified in this Action Plan – to build and underpin Australia’s services exports.

I recognise that advancing services exports is best achieved through a partnership between government and business. We will continue to work with industry as it focuses on boosting our economy and creating more jobs through commercial wins in the services sector internationally.

I express my sincere gratitude to the industry representatives who have made a significant contribution to developing the Services Exports Action Plan. The Government looks forward to working with industry to broaden Australia’s services sector footprint abroad and grow Australia’s prosperity.