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Australia - Overview

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Introduction

Capital:: Canberra
Area:: 7.741 km2
Total Population:: 21.875
Annual growth rate:: 2.00%
Density:: 3.00/km2
Urban population:: 89%
Population of Sydney (4.400), Melbourne (3.900), Brisbane (1.920), Perth (1.600), Adelaide (1.170), Tweed Heads (550)
Official language: The lingua franca of Australia is English. English is also the common language in different sectors such as the legislature, justice, administrative services, work, correspondence.
Other languages spoken: In Australia minority groups use more than 200 languages including the Aborigine languages and immigrant languages (Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Lebanese, Vietnamese,Turkish, etc.)
Business language: English
Ethnic Origins:: Australia today is a multicultural nation with more than 170 different nationalities whose diversity is continually growing.
Beliefs: Anglicans 20%; Catholics 25%; Other Protestant Christians 20%; Buddhists 1.9%; Muslims 1.5%.
A declining majority of people (58% according to certain surveys) say they are Christians. Most Protestant Churches, except the Anglican Church, have merged to form the Uniting Church; the Catholic Church has a large number of believers. There are also non-Christian minorities. 20% of the population say they are non-believers. The Aborigines do not have a religion strictly speaking, their entire culture is based on religion.
Telephone codes:
To make a call from:  0011
To make a call to: +61
Internet suffix:: .au
Type of State::
Commonwealth of Australia. Federal State of 6 States and 2 Territories based on a parliamentary democracy.
Type of economy::
High-income economy, OECD member
Services are dominant in the economy; abundant natural resources; greatest number of national parks and natural reserves in the world.

Economic overview

Australia is the world’s thirteenth largest economic power. After a slowing down due to global recession, in 2010 the Australian economy has been growing again, with an estimated growth rate of 3 % of the GDP. This good economic performance owes to the government’s fiscal policy of incentives, by the increase in household consumption and especially by the continuous Chinese demand which helps exports.

The Australian government’s priorities are to improve the country’s competitiveness, namely with regards to the export competition of Asian countries and to deal with the challenges of its aging population and its environment which is vulnerable to climatic problems (droughts).

Australia is a prosperous country and its per capita GDP is amongst the highest in the world. Despite the recent increase in unemployment rate due to the global economic crisis, it remains consistently low, around 5%.

Main industries

The tertiary sector occupies a dominant position in the Australian economy (more than three-fourths of the GDP), but the agricultural and mining sectors are the most important for its exports. Australia is a vast agricultural country and one of the world's main exporters of wool, meat, wheat and cotton. The country is overflowing with mineral and energy raw materials, the export of which ensures it substantial revenues. Australia is among the top 10 producers and exporters of most mineral ores. It has the world's greatest reserves of numerous strategic resources such as uranium, of which it has 40% of the world's proven reserves.

Traditionally Australia is a finished goods importer. Its industrialization is fairly recent, a fact which explains the small scale of its manufacturing sector, which only employs 10% of the active population. The manufacturing industry is built up around the food industry (approximately a fifth of the workforce), machinery and equipment (around 20%), metal processing and metal goods (nearly 20%) and the chemical-petrochemical industry (slightly more than 10%).

Foreign trade overview

Australia's external trade is characterized by a structural trade deficit. The increase in exports has not compensated for the high imports which are stimulated by a strong Australian dollar. In terms of continuous growth, and despite healthy exports, the deterioration of the current account balance and of the structural deficit are still the Australian economy's weak points.
The country is becoming more and more dependent on Asian economies and the price of raw materials. Australian foreign trade is not  well developed, a fact which reflects the country's relatively weak globalization integration. Australia must improve its infrastructures in order to redress the bottlenecks that have been restricting exports for a long time, so as to allow it to better integrate in global trade. The country's main trade partners are Southeast Asia, the United States and the European Union.

FDI

In terms of foreign direct investment (FDI), Australia is ranked 13th in the world but 3rd in the Asia-Oceania zone, behind Hong-Kong and China (since 2005). Traditionally, Australia is an investment destination. Its economic liberalism, its stability and judicial system transparency, combined with strong economic growth of more than 15 years, make up for the narrowness of its market and its geographical isolation, and make it a desirable destination. The effects of the 2008-2009 financial crisis have not harmed its capabilities and Australia remains a valued destination to a number of investors.
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