Australia: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Australia

Suits are usually worn in Sydney and Melbourne. Brisbane businesspeople may wear shirts, ties and shorts; visiting businesspeople should wear lightweight suits for the initial meeting. Prior appointments are usually necessary. Punctuality is important. A great deal of business is conducted over drinks. Best months for business travel are March to November.

Office hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1700.

Economy

Australia has a very diverse economy and a high standard of living. The country's service industries account for the major part of the economy. The other major export industry is mining; Australia has vast reserves of coal (of which it is the world's leading exporter), natural gas, nickel, iron ore, bauxite and diamonds, as well as uranium (Australian ore fuels many of the Western nations' nuclear power plants).

Most Australian manufacturing is concentrated in the processing of mineral products and in the iron, steel and engineering industries. The traditional agricultural industry is now less important with long-term drought forecasts. Sheep farming appears to be in long-term decline.

China's demand for raw materials has led to a growth market for Australian exports. Japanese investment in Australia, particularly in property and tourist ventures, has reached the point where most of the eastern seaboard 'Gold Coast' is now Japanese-owned.

The Australian economy is enviably strong despite the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, and a drop in international trade. A fiscal stimulus package, confidence in exports and increased economic links within the Asia-Pacific region have meant that Australia has weathered the global economic downturn better than most advanced nations. Inflation has remained low in 2010 at 2.8% while unemployment stood at 5.1% in the same year.

GDP

US$1.57 trillion (2012 estimate).

Main exports

Ores and metals, wool, food and live animals, wheat and minerals.

Main imports

Machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment, crude oil and petroleum products.

Main trading partners

Japan, China, USA, South Korea and Singapore.

Keeping in Touch in Australia

Telephone

Payhone phonecards are available at newsagents, supermarkets and chemists and can be used for local or international calls. Most payphones also accept coins. You can send text messages to Australian mobiles from almost half of all payphones.

Creditphones, which take most major credit cards, can be found at airports, city-centre locations and many hotels. Multimedia payphones are available in parts of Melbourne and Sydney. A touch screen allows you to gain access to information services, including tourist information which can be printed off for future reference. You can buy phonecards for these telephones from nearby shops. You can also make Skype calls from many internet cafés.

Mobile phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good in and around populated areas; access in some of the more isolated, outback and rural areas is limited. US handsets are not compatible.

Internet

Available throughout Australia. Internet cafés are prevalent in all capital cities and tourist towns, and individual hotels may also provide facilities. Wi-Fi access is increasing in cities and is mainly found in hotels, bars and cafés.

Post

There are post offices in all the main towns of every state. Stamps are often available at hotel and motel reception areas and selected newsagents.

Post office hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1700; some post office are also open Sat 0900-1200.

Media

There is good freedom of the press. The biggest-selling nationwide newspaper is The Australian, although regional newspapers actually enjoy higher readerships. The most notable of these are The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph (both Sydney-based) and The Herald Sun and The Age (both Melbourne-based).

There are two publicly funded media outlets – the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). They both broadcast on free-to-air television, radio and online. Almost everywhere in the country also receives three commercial television stations – the Nine Network, the Seven Network and Channel Ten.
 

Edited by Jane Duru
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