Despite its early independence in 1901, Australia had the character of a colonial agricultural country for a long time and its economic structure was largely geared towards the needs of Great Britain. Only the isolation during the two world wars led to the establishment of its own industrial base. The transition to a highly developed industrialized economy took place quickly after the Second World War.
At the beginning of the 1960s, the country experienced a strong development spurt from the global raw material boom, which, however, was accompanied by an increasing dependence on the world market. Large investments, e.g. B. in ore mines, power plants and energy-intensive industries, were mainly realized with the help of foreign investors. The decline in raw material prices and structural crises in traditional industrial sectors (e.g. the iron and steel industry) that process Australian raw materials had high current account deficits and very high current account deficits, primarily due to private borrowing, with the same high import demand for industrial products in the mid-1980s Foreign debt result.
As an OECD -Member, Australia is now part of the group of western industrialized countries. Its importance in the world economy is based both on its role as one of the world’s largest suppliers of agricultural products and mineral raw materials and as a sales market for industrial products. In the growing service sector in particular, the disadvantage of the geographical peripheral location has largely been offset by the digitization and globalization of the economy. Due to its rich natural resources, Australia is largely self-sufficient in the food and energy supply, but economically highly dependent on price fluctuations on the world raw material markets. The market economy system was shaped by state intervention until the 1980s, Influential trade unions and strong protectionism to protect domestic industry from foreign competition (e.g. through protective tariffs and import quotas). As a result, Australian industry was largely focused on the domestic market and was not considered to be internationally competitive. Since the Australian Labor Party came to power in 1983, protectionist measures have been almost completely eliminated. The deepening recession at the beginning of the 1990s was overcome in 1993.
According to fashionissupreme, Australia has had constant growth rates since the mid-1990s (2003-08 an average of 3.3% per year); the country was also largely spared the consequences of the global economic and financial crisis of 2008/09 (2009: 1.3%; 2018: 2.8%).
Foreign trade: Until the mid-1960s, Australia’s foreign trade was heavily geared towards Great Britain. Today the most important export region is Asia with a share of more than 60% of the total exports. The main buyer countries for Australian products are China (2018: 34.7%), Japan (16.4%), South Korea (7.0%) and India (4.9%). The most important countries of origin of the imports (2018) are China (24.5%), the USA (10.5%), Japan (7.4%), Thailand (4.9%) and Germany (4.9%). Goods exports reach US $ 253 billion (2018). The main exports are raw materials, food, natural gas and non-ferrous metals. The imports amount to US $ 236 billion. Most of the imports are motor vehicles, machines, electronic products and chemical products.
Service exports (such as transport and financial services, media, education) are playing an increasing role. Due to its strong dependency on exports, Australia is advocating a significant reduction in global agricultural subsidies, especially in the EU, the USA and Japan. A Free Trade Agreement (CER) has existed with New Zealand since 1983, with the USA since 2005, with Chile since 2009 and with China since 2015. In January 2010, the Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) came into force between the ASEAN countries as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Agriculture was the most important economic sector for a long time and was only replaced by the development of rich mineral resources as the largest source of foreign currency in exports in the mid-1960s. Until the early 1950s, the share of agricultural exports in Australian export revenues was over 80%, in 2018 it was only 10.3%. The share of agriculture in GDP decreased from 5.5% (1980) to 2.7% (2017).
Around 51% of the area (391.8 million hectares) of Australia is used for agriculture. Due to the lack of water, the vast majority of the area is only suitable for extensive grazing. Field crops are grown on only around 8% of the agricultural area (32 million ha), mainly on a 300–400 km wide coastal strip in the southwest, east and north, which is used very intensively. Around 2.14 million hectares are irrigated. In the field of agriculture, the yields could be increased significantly through planned improvement of the soil, expansion of irrigation, a high degree of mechanization, pest control and the use of improved seeds; however, they are repeatedly and in some cases considerably impaired by periods of drought. The main crops are wheat and sugar cane, around 80% of which are exported. Other important crops are barley, cotton, rapeseed, sorghum, rice and potatoes. Fruit (citrus fruits, bananas, pineapples, apples, pears) is also grown mainly for export. The rapidly expanding oneAfter wheat and sugar cane, viticulture already has the third highest harvest value. About a tenth of the grapes are processed into dried fruits, the rest into wine and brandy, and most of them are also exported (Australian wines).
One of the main focuses of agriculture is livestock farming. Pure livestock farms, e.g. B. in Western Australia, can reach sizes up to 400,000 hectares. Australia has one of the largest livestock in the world; sheep and cattle are mainly farmed as the basis for a significant production of meat and dairy products. With around 360,000 t, Australia is the largest sheep wool producer. Over 90% of the annual wool production is exported. When it comes to beef and sheep, Australia is one of the largest meat exporters; Furthermore, large quantities of cattle and sheep are exported live.
Forestry: Australia is 16.3% forest covered (1.25 million km 2). The largest forests are in the humid coastal mountains. A third of the area is state-owned, 19% are under nature protection. Lumber is increasingly coming from wood plantations; 60% of them consist of fast-growing softwoods (e.g. Pinus radiata) and hardwoods (especially Eucalyptus globulus). Despite the rapid expansion of plantations, Australia has to import paper and timber.
Fisheries: The fishing industry is of relatively minor importance despite rich fish stocks and the third largest fishing zone in the world. In addition to fish, it is mainly crabs and mussels that are caught. The fishing industry generates around 40% of its production value in aquaculture.