2023: Doing Business In Australia

Published on Jan 21, 2024

Doing Business In Australia

1. What is the current business climate in your jurisdiction including major political, economic and/or legal activities on the horizon in Australia that could have a big impact on businesses?

Australia stands as a prosperous and stable nation, offering abundant opportunities for foreign investment across diverse industries. Positioned strategically in the Asia-Pacific region, it boasts a stable political environment and a clear legal framework, providing certainty and protection amid global economic challenges. The nation's highly educated workforce, robust financial system, and abundant natural resources contribute to its global trade prominence.

Australia's proximity to major markets like China, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea makes it a crucial hub for trade and investment, particularly in mining, agriculture, and finance.

The business-friendly environment, supportive government policies, and well-developed infrastructure make it an ideal location for businesses looking to establish a foothold in the Asia-Pacific region.

The government has been implementing measures to support economic growth and innovation. The ongoing global transition to renewable energy and sustainable practices has also been a focal point in Australia, impacting sectors such as energy, infrastructure, and technology.

Additionally, Australia has been actively involved in trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which could present opportunities for businesses.

Australia recently signed up to the AUKUS security partnership with the United Kingdom and the United States. The partnership is aimed at enhancing security and defense cooperation among the three countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. The partnership involves significant cooperation on a range of security and defense issues between the three countries, including cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and additional joint military exercises and operations.

Legal and regulatory changes, such as updates to taxation or labor laws, could impact the business landscape. In the past 12 months, we have seen the federal government introduce new competition and consumer legislation, lower monetary thresholds for foreign investment approvals, and a tightening on immigration laws.

Our Doing Business in Australia Guide details all the considerations required to do business in our region.

2. From what countries do you see the most inbound investment? What about outbound?

Inbound investment into Australia includes the United States, Singapore, China, Japan, and the United Kingdom. In recent years, we have also seen an uplift of interest from major European countries such as France, Spain, and Germany. These countries have consistently shown interest in various sectors such as real estate, infrastructure, healthcare, energy, finance, and technology.

For outbound investment, Australian businesses commonly invest in countries with robust economies and growth potential. The United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and various countries in Asia have been recipients of Australian outbound investment. Industries like mining, finance, and real estate often drive Australian companies to explore opportunities globally. We also see a lot of businesses invest in offshore human resources from countries such as India or the Philippines.

3. In what industries/sectors are you seeing the most opportunity for foreign investment?

Despite global economic headwinds, Australia's investment outlook continues to remain comparatively positive. Inbound investment remains strong in a number of industry sectors, led by technology being ranked as the most attractive with the least risk, followed by financial services, real estate, and energy and resources.

4. What advantages and pitfalls should others know about doing business in your country?

Despite its advantages, businesses should consider challenges such as Australia's isolation, resulting in higher transportation costs, and a high cost of living that may impact operating expenses. Navigating a stringent regulatory environment (including foreign investment restrictions and competition laws), perceived labor market rigidity, and potential skill shortages in certain sectors can pose challenges. Climate-related vulnerabilities, currency fluctuations, and competition in specific industries add complexity. Cultural sensitivity, Aboriginal land rights considerations, and water scarcity in certain regions further contribute to the nuanced business landscape. Understanding these factors is vital for informed decision-making and successful navigation of the Australian business environment. Businesses that strategically address these challenges can leverage the numerous opportunities Australia presents for long-term success.

5. What is one cultural fact or custom about your country that others should know when doing business there?

In Australian business culture, an emphasis on informality and a laid-back communication style prevails. Directness, openness, and equality are valued, with individuals commonly addressed by their first names, reflecting a relaxed approach. Meetings involve straightforward, collaborative discussions, encouraging open expression of opinions. Understanding and embracing this informality is crucial for building effective working relationships and fostering a positive and collaborative environment in Australian business interactions.

Our Firm

1. What distinguishes your firm from others in your market?

MinterEllison is one of the largest, full-service, independent legal and business advisory firms in the Asia-Pacific region. With more than 250 partners and 900 legal staff, our teams collaborate across geographies to provide trusted, seamlessly integrated solutions to our clients. What sets us apart is that we’re driven by a strong sense of purpose to create sustainable value with our clients, our people, and our communities.

2. What are three words that describe the culture of your firm?

Excellence. Curiosity. Collaboration.

3. How does your firm participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and/or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives?

MinterEllison's ESG practice, led by experts Sarah Barker, Keith Rovers, and Joao Segorbe, is globally recognized. As the first Australian professional services firm in the Corporate Responsibility Index, MinterEllison is now Climate Active certified and an active member of the Australian Legal Sector Alliance (AusLSA). AusLSA promotes sustainability commitments and performance in the legal sector, focusing on workplaces, community support, environmental conservation, and responsible governance. Despite a relatively small environmental footprint, MinterEllison is committed to achieving Net Zero by 2030, which will be monitored by the Executive Team and Partnership Board. Our environmental sustainability program targets Zero Carbon, Zero Waste to Landfill, Supporting Innovation, Visible Thought Leadership, and Integrated Solutions. Aiming to purchase 100% green energy by 2025, the firm minimizes resource use and engages landlords for green alternatives. Progress is reported through Climate Active certification, reflecting significant outcomes like a Responsible Procurement Policy review, Compliance Standards for suppliers, and achieving carbon neutrality in 2023.

4. Are there any new and exciting initiatives, practice areas or industry focuses in your firm?

Our client delivery strategy at MinterEllison is recognized as one of the market's most sophisticated, driven by an industry-led approach. Our specialized teams in Financial Services, Energy & Resources, Health, Infrastructure, Real Estate, Education, and Government leverage deep industry knowledge to provide strategic and legal guidance. With integrated legal and consulting services, we prioritize sharing invaluable industry insights. Our commitment to industry specialization sets us apart, emphasizing continuous evolution beyond traditional legal strengths. The unrivaled expertise we offer comes from extensive involvement at corporate, project, and operational levels. At the forefront of our services is MinterEllison's Consulting division. We've assembled an unparalleled team, blending the agility of a human-centered boutique with the strength of a large Australian law firm. Our experts, including those in our Consulting division, are ready to assist in transforming businesses with services spanning Risk and Regulatory Consulting, Technology Consulting, ESG Consulting, Education Consulting, and Legal Optimization.


Brendan Clark and Jeremy Blackshaw