Australian Embassy

Economic Diplomacy

Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement


Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement - Reasons why

Economic and Commercial Diplomacy

The Foreign Policy White Paper places economic and commercial diplomacy at the forefront of Australia’s international engagement.

The new Economic and Commercial Diplomacy Agenda uses the full suite of the Australian Government’s diplomatic resources and our domestic networks to advocate for an open global economy, support businesses seeking commercial opportunities, advance our political and economic interests, and strengthen our international competitiveness.

Benefits of trade for Australians 2017

DFAT, in partnership with Austrade, leads the implementation of the Economic and Commercial Diplomacy Agenda. The Agenda is focused on five key pillars of activity:

  • promoting investment
  • addressing non-tariff barriers
  • supporting and facilitating business
  • advocating for the global rules-based trade system, and
  • increasing science, technology and innovation links.

DFAT has over 100 overseas posts across the world and offices in Australian state and territory capital (STOs). DFAT's role includes:

  • working with portfolio partners and other key Australian Government agencies to promote and protect Australian trade and investment interests
  • leading whole-of-government efforts in international trade and investment negotiations, including FTA negotiations
  • through our DFAT State office Directors and in collaboration with Austrade, liaising with state, territory and local governments on international aspects of their work, supporting Australian business, and trade and investment objectives, through engagement with companies and business councils and targeted events
  • engaging business to share information on developments in overseas markets that present commercial opportunities and risks, and
  • managing the majority of Australia's $3.7 billion aid program focused on economic development across our region.

Our overseas officials build productive relationships and valuable networks in host countries with ministers, government officials, business people, media representatives, think tanks, universities and community groups. These networks enable us to advise Australian governments and businesses on key political, economic, commercial, regulatory and strategic developments, including through our Market Insights.

Working together

DFAT works closely with portfolio partners and other key Australian Government agencies with economic and trade responsibilities, including:

Australia’s trade and investment with the world, 2017

Trade and Investment at a Glance 2017

Trade and Investment at a Glance 2017 provides high level statistical data on Australia’s trade and investment profile. It covers our top trading partners, key exports, imports and sources and destinations for investment using the latest available data at the time of publishing.

The report identifies how Australia compares with the rest of the world in global export, import and investment rankings. A summary of Australia’s trade and investment framework, and the international trade and investment forums we regularly engage in to progress Australia’s economic interests, is included. Ideally suited to those seeking core facts and figures about Australian trade and investment.

Latest Publication

Trade and Investment at a Glance 2017

Global Connections Fund (GCF) Priming Grants

Applications have opened for Global Connections Fund (GCF) Priming Grants to help Australian researchers and business to expand their work overseas.

The grants of up to $7000 empower organisations to collaborate in the global arena, link with international counterparts and expertise, and explore collaborative projects in international markets.

To date, $2.9 million in GCF grants funding has been used to increase collaboration in science, technology and innovation at the international level. Previous rounds of Priming Grants have seen Australian researchers and small and medium businesses collaborating with partners in Europe, South America, Asia and the USA.

The purpose of the Priming Grants is to enhance collaboration specifically between Australian small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and researchers in 17 priority economies (which include EU countries)

Priming Grants encourage translational activities, end use development and commercialisation outcomes. They do not support research only projects.  

The program only supports Researcher-SME collaborations and does not support SME-SME or Researcher-Researcher collaborations. Details here.

Priming Grants are intended to stimulate the formation of joint Australian-Partner research and innovation by reducing the financial risk on both sides to enter into a collaboration proposal.

Priming Grants therefore should not be regarded as simply travel grants, they have specific intent and outcomes.

The grants will support Australian SMEs and researchers to:

  • enable initial exploratory partner meetings to take place
  • undertake consortium meetings (travel-related costs), assistance with minor project expenses; and /or costs associated with establishing formal relationships (legal agreements) or funding applications for joint activities.
  • support potential SME-researcher partnerships in exploring the viability of an intended research and development (R&D) collaboration or technology solution
  • explore avenues for follow-on project seed‑funding

Priming Grants are not designed to fund ongoing research costs, or to support existing collaborative activities.

Your proposed partner should not be part of an exisiting research or commercial relationship but a new opportunity you are seeking to explore.

Priming grants are not intended for use to support research projects on SMEs, commercialisation or entrepreneurial activities. They are solely intended to promote translational activities between entities which lead to new innovations in products or services.

For more information on how to apply