Australians have a reputation for being easy-going, laid-back people.
Although that characterization isn't far off the mark, U.S. exporters can't assume a "no worries" attitude toward doing business in Australia. Like other countries, Australia has a unique business culture and import requirements that need to be addressed long before your products leave American ports.
The Australian economy has traditionally been dominated by agricultural and mining industries. Although these industries continue to have a powerful economic presence in Australia, the nation has adapted itself to the realities of the global economy. For example, in response to global demand for wine, Australia has become the world's fourth largest wine exporter, multiplying its wine exports to the U.S. nearly forty-fold over the past twenty years.
As Australia has nurtured its place in the global economy, it has recognized the need to import the resources to maintain its status as a modern economy. This has created opportunities for U.S. firms to gain new footholds in the Australian consumer and B2B marketplaces. It has also created a need for American companies to take a closer look at the practical aspects of exporting to Australia.
- U.S. friendly. Australia has very friendly relations with the U.S. But exporters shouldn't confuse friendly national relations with an invitation to take advantage of their business partners "down under". Australians are very business savvy and will not hesitate to walk away from a partnership if they distrust your motives or integrity.
- Location. New exporters are often unaware of the geographic distance between the U.S. and Australia. The distance from Los Angeles to Sydney is more than 14,000 miles, so you'll need to carefully consider the cost of transporting your products to Australia before you commit to a business plan. The upside of Australia's location is that it's a hop, skip, and a jump away from Asia, making it a natural (and stable) staging area for businesses interested in penetrating Asian markets.
- Culture & personality. By nature, Australians tend to be more relaxed than typical American business people. The Australian way of life also lends itself to a straightforward personality that is foreign to many U.S. business professionals. Rather than discussing issues in a round about way, Australians prefer a direct, "lay your cards on the table" approach to business and life.
- Less detail-oriented. Although it is a gross generalization, some U.S. exporters may find that Australians are less detail-oriented than their American counterparts. Since exporting requires careful attention to details, it's helpful to identify an Australian agent who is familiar with the strict requirements associated with importing U.S. products into the country.