The Australian Trade and Investment Commission, or Austrade, is the Australian Government's trade, investment and education promotion agency. It is a statutory agency within the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, with offices in overseas embassies and consulates, and representative arrangements in some other locations.[2]

Under Austrade's corporate structure, its chief executive officer is accountable to the federal Minister for Trade and Investment.

Global network

Through a global network of offices,[3] Austrade aims to assist Australian companies to connect with buyers in offshore markets, attract foreign direct investment into Australia, and promote Australia's education sector internationally."Annual Report 2011–12". Australian Trade and Investment Commission. Commonwealth of Australia. 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 

In Australia, Austrade's services and programs are delivered through a national network of offices[4] and TradeStart locations in metropolitan and regional areas, operating in partnership with Australian state and territory governments, industry associations and regional development bodies.[5]


For Australian companies

Austrade provides advice to exporters on prospective markets and opportunities; on-the-ground support in target countries; trade exhibitions; and assistance in finding potential investors. No charge is made for general information, though fees may be required for specific tailored advice.[6]

Austrade provides information and advice to assist Australian companies in exporting goods and services to markets including Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Russia. For Australian exporters and education providers, Austrade has a comprehensive mix of information and customised services to assist doing business within overseas markets and to understand foreign regulations and business practices.

For international investors

Austrade is responsible for the promotion, attraction and facilitation of productive foreign direct investment (FDI) into Australia, and is the first national point of contact for all investment enquiries. Services to international companies are free, comprehensive and confidential. Working in partnership with Australian state and territory governments, Austrade provides international investors with information needed to establish or expand a business in Australia.

For international buyers

Austrade also assists international buyers to source goods and services from Australia or to identify strategic Australian business partners.

For Australian education providers

Austrade's role includes the international marketing and promotion of Australian education and training.[7] Austrade co-ordinates and promotes the brand programs "Future Unlimited"[8] which advertises Australian education and training institutions, and "Australia Unlimited"[9] which promotes awareness of Australian skills and capabilities. It previously co-ordinated the "Building Brand Australia" program, a 4-year, A$20-million program to promote Australia's credentials as a "global citizen, global business partner and world class destination".[10]

Financial support for exporters

Austrade provides online information on export financing and other government financial assistance programs.[11] It also administers the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) Scheme, the Australian Government's financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters, which encourages small and medium-sized Australian businesses to enter into and develop export markets. Under this scheme, eligible businesses are reimbursed for part of the export marketing costs they incur. The scheme supports a wide range of industry sectors and products, including inbound tourism and the export of intellectual property.[12]

Governing legislation and changes

Established under the Australian Trade Commission Act 1985, Austrade is a prescribed agency subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Public Service Act 1999. Austrade operates as a statutory authority within the portfolio of Foreign Affairs and Trade, its chief executive officer reporting directly to the Minister for Trade and Investment.

From its establishment until 30 June 2006, Austrade was governed by a board. As a result of a report by John Uhrig AC published in June 2003,[13] the board was replaced from 1 July 2006 by a chief executive officer.[2][14]

In 2011, changes were made to programs and services "to create a more contemporary and sustainable Austrade and to deliver greater value for the business community and for the Government".[15]

On 23 March 2016, the Trade Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1) 2016 was passed, which amended various acts to facilitate the agency's name change from "Australian Trade Commission" to "Australian Trade and Investment Commission", with the governing act title also changed accordingly to "Australian Trade and Investment Commission Act 1985".[16]

Agency heads

Chairmen of the Australian Trade Commission
Order Chairman Period Reference
1 Bill Ferris AC1 1988–1993 [17]
2 Robert Johnston AO 1993–1995 [18]
3 Roger Allen (acting) 1995 [19]
4 Alan Jackson AO 1995–2001 [19]
5 Ross Adler AC2 2001–2006
Managing Directors / CEOs of Austrade
Order MDs / CEOs Period Reference
1 Ralph Evans 1991–1996 [20]
2 Charles Jamieson 1996–2002 [20]
3 Peter O'Byrne 2002–2009
4 Peter Grey 2010–2012 [21]
5 Bruce Gosper 2013–2017 [22]
6 Stephanie Fahey 2017–present [23]


1 Ferris was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) on 26 January 1990, during his term as chairman. His citation was awarded "..in recognition of service to international trade and to industry."[24] He was leter appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) on 26 January 2008 for "service to the community through a range of philanthropic endeavours, as a leader in support of medical research, and to business and commerce through ongoing roles supporting Australian exports, venture capital and private equity."[25]
2 Adler was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1999. After his term as chairman had ended in 2006, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) on 11 June 2007. His citation was awarded for "service to business and commerce, particularly through the promotion of international trade and as a contributor to company and commercialisation development in Australia, to the community through administrative roles with educational institutions, and as a supporter of the arts."[26]

Misapplication controversies

Between 2004 and 2006, Austrade reportedly granted special access privileges and funds totalling $394,009 to the fraudulent company Firepower International, which also provided employment to two former senior Austrade managers in Europe and Russia. The agency denied Firepower had received special treatment.[27] However, perceived legitimation of Firepower's activities by Austrade undoubtedly helped promote tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent share sales to the Australian public "without proper disclosure documents in breach of the Corporations Act".[28][29] Possibly because of the close involvement of senior diplomats and politicians, including then prime minister John Howard and senior minister Julie Bishop,[30] in the scandal, Austrade did not initiate prosecutions against Tim Johnston and other Firepower principals, as it had previously done against relatively minor perceived offenders such as Western Australian town planner and inventor Paul Ritter, who was imprisoned in the late 1980s on charges of making inappropriate export-grant applications.[31]

See also


  1. ^ APS Statistical Bulletin 2015-2016 (Report). Australian Public Service Commission. September 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Australian Trade and Investment Commission Austrade Case Study Archived 2 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine., c. April 2010, www.finance.gov.au
  3. ^ Global network of offices at official website
  4. ^ Austrade's offices in Australia at official website
  5. ^ About TradeStart at official website
  6. ^ Austrade Programs and Services at official website
  7. ^ Australian education and training at official website
  8. ^ Future Unlimited
  9. ^ Australia Unlimited
  10. ^ Brand Australia Archived 2 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Financing your export business at official website
  12. ^ Export Market Development Grants at official website
  13. ^ "Review of the Corporate Governance of Statutory Authorities and Office Holders (the 'Uhrig Review')" (PDF). Department of Finance and Deregulation. Commonwealth of Australia. June 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2012. 
  14. ^ Changes to the Board, Austrade annual report 2005-06, Part 4: Accountability and governance, pp. 62–64.
    Austrade's Annual Reports at official website[dead link]
  15. ^ "Reform of the Australian Trade Commission: Maximising Our Value" (PDF leaflet). AI Group. May 2011. 
  16. ^ "Trade Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1) 2016". Federal Register of Legislation. Australian Government. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
  17. ^ Bill Ferris AC[permanent dead link], Annual Nonprofit Leadership Address, 3 June 2010, Harvard Club of Australia, hcag.org.au
  18. ^ "Death of Robert Henry Johnston AO". Minister for Trade (Press release). Commonwealth of Australia. 8 May 1995. 
  19. ^ a b New Chairman for Austrade, Minister for Trade press release MT137, 30 August 1995, www.trademinister.gov.au
  20. ^ a b Fischer welcomes Austrade appointment, Minister for Trade press release TR44, 15 July 1996, www.trademinister.gov.au
  21. ^ New CEO for Austrade, Minister for Trade press release TR44, 30 November 2012, www.trademinister.gov.au
  22. ^ http://trademinister.gov.au/releases/2012/ce_mr_121130.html
  23. ^ http://trademinister.gov.au/releases/Pages/2017/sc_mr_170117.aspx?w=tb1CaGpkPX%2FlS0K%2Bg9ZKEg%3D%3D
  24. ^ "FERRIS, William Duncan: Officer of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 26 January 1990. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  25. ^ "FERRIS, William Duncan: Companion of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 26 January 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  26. ^ "ADLER, Norman Ross: Companion of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 11 June 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  27. ^ Ryle G "Austrade doles out to secretive firm" Sydney Morning Herald 10 January 2007
  28. ^ Firepower director to address creditors by phone ABC News 24 July 2008
  29. ^ ASIC launches action in relation to fuel technology company Australian Securities and Investments Commission media statement, 21 July 2008
  30. ^ Ryle G. & Magnay J. Firepower chief had dinner with Howard Sydney Morning Herald 15 July 2008
  31. ^ Ritter, Paul (1989). Curses from Canberra : public service conspiracy and the failure of democratic safeguards. Perth: PEER Institute. ISBN 090964702X.