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Are you currently doing business in Australia, or are you planning to in the near future? Consider this...

  • Australia is one of the largest developed countries in the world. The country has the 13th largest economy and the world’s 6th highest per capita income.
  • Australia is one of the top five exporters of wine worldwide with approximately 750 million liters a year going to the international export market. Australia has almost 2,000 wine producers.
  • Australia is the second largest beef exporter in the world, behind Brazil.
  • The major industries in Australia include mining, steel, chemicals, industrial and transportation equipment, and food processing. Cattle, sheep, wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits, and fowl are the primary agricultural products.
  • The Human Development Index is a measure of literacy, education, life expectancy, and standard of living. Australia is ranked second on the United Nations 2011 Human Development Index.
  • The official language is English. However, spellings and usage in Australian English are a combination of U.S. and British English.
  • Australia is one of the top immigrant countries worldwide. 43.1% of people had at least one overseas-born parent in 2011.

With strong economic power, various ethnic groups, and cultural diversity, Australia is attractive to foreign businesses. However, Australia has many social and cultural differences when compared to the United States. Be prepared before pursuing business relationships in Australia.

Important Tips

  • The most important factor for Australians is egalitarianism. Do not show off your abilities, education, or qualifications. Australians consider modesty a virtue. Try to downplay your achievements.
  • A handshake is for formal greetings. Women might kiss each other’s cheeks.
  • Australians refer to each other by name. When you introduce yourself, give your full name. Job titles are not commonly used on a regular basis.
  • Gesturing with one or two fingers is considered rude. It is also considered inappropriate for men to wink at women in a social setting.
  • Australians do not give gifts in a business setting. However, if you are invited to someone’s home, you can bring wine, flowers, chocolates, or an illustrated book from your home area.
  • Because Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere, seasons are reversed from those of North America.


  • Appointments should always be made weeks ahead. It is not difficult to make an in-person appointment with any corporate levels. Executives are relatively easy to access.
  • Always be on time for your meeting. Procrastination is considered unprofessional. However, you might end up waiting for your Australian counterparts.
  • Similarly to countries in the Northern Hemisphere where vacations are taken in the summer months, many Australians take time off between December and February.


  • Australians prefer to have a meeting in person, but they are also accustomed to communicating with people via e-mail and phone, including conference calls and webinars outside of their country.
  • Most Australian businesspeople are very direct and don’t like to have long or detail-oriented presentations about business. Make it short and straightforward.
  • When you speak with Australians, eye contact is very important. However, Australians need their personal space respected; you should be at least two feet away.
  • Australians prefer to be casual and like to tease their counterparts. Do not be embarrassed; show you have a good sense of humor.
  • Before your business meeting, spend your time networking and making small talk. Making social connections is one of the most important factors in the Australian business world.


  • Always call in advance when you visit an Australian’s home. In addition, Australians never invite people to their homes unless they know each other well.
  • Australians believe play and work have the same level of importance. If an Australian invites you for a private party or drink, do not talk about business unless the host mentions it.
  • Being healthy and enjoying sports are important to Australians. Being able to talk knowledgeably about local sports, players, events, and matches would be a plus.
  • Australians enjoy debating with other people and find it entertaining. They like people who are opinionated. Try to be open about your opinions and thoughts even if they conflict with those of others.
  • When Australians invite you to a pub, everyone should take turns buying a round of drinks. Otherwise, it is considered rude, and you might get a bad reputation.

For your Australian business document translation needs, contact McElroy Translation. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you and your company become successful in your international business ventures.

Morrison, Terri, and Wayne A. Conaway (2006). Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands, 2nd edition. Massachusetts: Adams Media Corporation.

Published - August 2012

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