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Export technology to Australia

Free trade agreement export guide

Overview

The UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) opens up opportunities in the Australian tech market and the UK is ideally placed to capitalise on these opportunities and further cement its position as a global leader in tech innovation.

The UK's technology sector is one of our great success stories, with the thriving innovation sector ranking fourth globally in 2022 (source: Global Innovation Index 2022, World Intellectual Property Organization).

The UK became only the third country after the United States and China, to reach the landmark of having their tech sector valued at over USD $1 trillion at the end of 2022 (source: Tech Nation, 2022: A year of the UK tech ecosystem in review, January 2023).

The transition to complex emerging technologies, such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, future telecoms and cyber security means that it is crucial the UK looks to work with like-minded nations to fully utilise these capabilities.

In 2021, the UK exported £5.3 billion of UK services remotely to Australia (source: ONS Imports and exports of services by country, by modes of supply, 2021). As the world’s 12th largest economy in 2022 (source: IMF, World Economic Outlook April 2023), Australia is a sophisticated and wealthy market and with a largely tech-savvy population of around 25 million people, Australia is the perfect place to develop new tech products or services.

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The UK innovation sector was ranked 4th globally in 2022

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By end of 2022, the UK became only the 3rd country in the world to reach the landmark of having their tech sector valued at over USD $1 trillion

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In 2021, the UK exported £5.3 billion of UK services remotely to Australia

What opportunities are there in Australia?

Are you a cyber security company who wants to provide services to the Australian government?

You will have legally guaranteed access to Australian government contracts for the first time when these are procured by bodies covered by the FTA.

Are you a quantum computing software company looking to exploit opportunities in the Australian market?

This FTA will enhance digital trade and allow UK businesses to grow with less restrictions on the collection, processing and transferring of data between the 2 countries.

Are you an ambitious AI company looking to capitalise in Australia on the UK’s position as a global AI superpower?

Investment thresholds have increased more than fourfold to AUSD$1.2 billion before being reviewed by the Australian Foreign Investment Board, and increased certainty around short-term business travel will allow you to better plan resourcing.

How can the FTA help you seize these opportunities?

Digital trade

The FTA ensures that data can flow freely between the two countries whilst retaining the UK's high standards on data protection.

British businesses operating in Australia can plan their business growth knowing that they can collect, process, and transfer data between the two countries, without facing unnecessary red tape or costs.

The FTA will ensure that businesses do not face unjustified barriers to data flows, such as the requirement to store their data in costly servers in Australia.

This is critical for the £5.3 billion of UK services exports to Australia which were supplied remotely in 2021 (source: ONS Imports and exports of services by country, by modes of supply, 2021).

Cyber security

The UK’s flourishing cyber security sector is well positioned to benefit from the FTA with the number of UK cyber security businesses growing by 75% since 2017 to 2018 and 48% of firms already exporting (source: DCMS, Cyber Security Sectoral Analysis 2021, 18 February 2021).

The FTA will promote dialogue on tackling cyber security threats, which will allow the UK business community to work even more closely with their Australian counterparts on shared challenges. The FTA also ensures that businesses don’t have to share source code or encryption keys – key commercial secrets for strong cyber security products – to enter the Australia market.

AI and other disruptive technologies

The UK and Australia will co-operate on AI and other disruptive digital technologies, including through the world’s first dedicated innovation chapter. The UK and Australia will work together to encourage the commercialisation, development and adoption of emerging technologies, and to facilitate trade in related products and services.

A bespoke Strategic Innovation Dialogue, in which industry experts may be invited to take part, will act as a cooperative forum where the UK and Australia will look to promote and facilitate innovation in their territories.

Future telecoms

The FTA ensures a well-regulated and competitive telecommunications sector.Transparent and non-discriminatory regulatory principles will give businesses the confidence to invest in new markets, whether this be by expanding connectivity across the UK and Australia or innovating new technologies.

UK suppliers in Australia will have the flexibility to use technology of their own choosing, which is crucial to support innovation and emerging technologies such as 5G. Telecommunications suppliers will also benefit from knowing that scarce resources like radio spectrum will be allocated in a fair, objective way, which is key in ensuring diverse supply chains.

World-class talent and expertise

To retain the UK’s global leadership in the digital technologies of the future, UK developers need to be able to deliver contracts and services across the globe. The FTA provides greater certainty and access for British professionals looking to deliver services in person in Australia.This could benefit digital service providers,including SMEs and tech companies, for example by doubling the maximum length of stay for executives and senior managers transferred to an office in Australia from 2 to 4 years.

Find more information on business travel and mobility.

Procurement

UK tech companies providing digital services will also be able to diversify their income streams with new legally guaranteed access to covered Australian government contracts for digitally delivered services at federal and sub-federal level. More information on procurement opportunities can be found via our government procurement guidance.

Intellectual property

The FTA commits Australia to ambitious intellectual property (IP) provisions that support companies through adequate, effective and balanced protection and enforcement, and that encourage innovation and creativity. Provisions include reciprocal copyright arrangements, more efficient trade mark procedures, a streamlined design right protection application process, mechanisms for Geographical Indications protections, protections for patents and trade secrets, and improved IP infringement enforcement.

Investment

For those looking to expand their business and invest in Australia, the deal means fewer UK investments will need to go through Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.Now, only investments over AUD $1.2 billion, other than those in certain sensitive sectors, will be subject to review, more than quadrupling the UK’s previous threshold. UK enterprises will also gain guarantees that limit nationality and residency requirements for their senior managers and boards of directors. This will provide greater control over business operations and recruitment.

Specific performance requirements – such as export restrictions, local content requirements, headquarter localisation requirements, and mandatory levels of research and development – will be prohibited. This will limit barriers to investment and minimise market distortions.

UK investors will be covered by a range of investment protections. This includes'Expropriation' and 'Minimum Standard of Treatment' provisions which guarantee UK investors protection from the unlawful expropriation of assets and discriminatory,unfair, or arbitrary treatment by Australia.

Additional information for selling services in Australia

Providing services in Australia will have other consequences including for tax, intellectual property and local labour regulations. Please refer to the following for more advice:

Doing business in Australia

The UK and Australia share a common language and culture, as well as business and legal practices such as intellectual property protection and the rule of law. This makes it easier for UK companies to do business there.

With a population of over 25 million, including more than 1 million Britons, Australia is an ideal place to test and develop new products and services. Around three-fifths of the total population live in Australia’s 4 largest cities, making it easy to prioritise where to launch your product or service.

Legal disclaimer

The information provided on this webpage is for guidance only and should not be relied on as a substitute for your own research or independent advice.

No investment and/or business decision should be made solely on the basis of information presented on this page. It is recommended that an independent due diligence investigation is conducted before entering into engagement with any individual, firm, company or other organisation mentioned.

DBT accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage caused to any person as result of any error, omission, inaccurate or misleading statement on this page.

The accuracy, completeness or up-to-dateness of the content of any website mentioned in this document is not guaranteed in any way, implied or explicit.

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