The European Union (EU) and Australia share a strong
and longstanding economic relationship, with the EU
having been Australia’s largest single economic partner
for more than 25 years.
The EU is Australia’s largest partner in both two-way
trade in goods (eg coal, medicaments, motor vehicles
and alcohol) and two-way trade in services (eg travel
and transportation) (see Figure 1). It is the largest
investor in Australia and second largest destination for
Australian investment overseas.
Figure 1: Australia’s two-way trade in goods and
services, by major partners, 2008
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009), 5368.0.55.004 and personal
On a Balance of Payments basis, which takes into
account trade in goods and services, foreign investment
income and transfer payments, economic activity
between the EU and Australia is estimated to have
exceeded $A126 billion in 2008, or 18% of all Australian
overseas transactions. This figure, when compared with
Australia’s other major economic partners, (the ASEAN
economies 14%, United States 13%, Japan 12% and
China 11%) shows that the EU remains Australia’s
largest economic partner by a significant margin.
Merchandise trade data is on a recorded trade basis, as at June 2009. Services
trade data is on a balance of payments basis.
Trade in Goods
The EU has been Australia’s most important trade
partner in terms of total merchandise trade since 1996.
Although there was a significant rise in the value of
mineral and energy exports to Australia’s Asian partners
in 2008, the EU remained Australia’s largest two-way
merchandise trading partner, marginally ahead of
Japan, with transactions for each worth $A71.0 billion,
followed closely by the ASEAN economies and China.
(see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Australia’s total trade in goods, 2008
Source: Australia Bureau of Statistics (2009), personal communication
Having been the largest source of merchandise impor