The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) has released the 2011 Benchmark Report: Australia – A wealth of Opportunities, highlighting Australia’s economic strength and its attraction as a regional financial services centres.


The report finds low unemployment, 20 consecutive years of growth, low inflation and low sovereign debt as factors that will position the country to capitalize on foreign investment.


"Australia continues to benefit from a significant rise in the terms of trade and a healthy trade surplus. Demand for Australia’s minerals and natural gas exports, notably from China and other Asian countries underpins this strong performance."


The report notes that these developments have seen a shift in the relative contributions to GDP by key sectors of the economy.


"Financial services remains the largest sector accounting for 11 per cent of GDP and the share of mining has increased to 9.6 per cent of GDP."


The report coincides with the 2010 Australian Financial Markets Report, produced by the Australian Financial Markets Association (AFMA), which finds Australia is well positioned with a diverse and dynamic financial market.


Trade Minister Craig Emerson said both the Austrade and AFMA reports confirmed the resilience of the Australian economy against a backdrop of global uncertainty, while highlighting the country's role as an investment hub in the Asian region


Mr Emerson specified Australia's superannuation funds as a continuing source of strength in the financial services industry, which currently holds the world’s fourth-largest pool of contestable funds, with $1.8 trillion in funds under management.


“The funds management sector has grown seven-fold since 1991 at a compound annual growth rate of 11 per cent, and now has A$1.8 trillion in funds under management. Australia’s financial markets are sophisticated, deep and highly liquid. Its stock market is the largest in the region, ex-Japan, and the sixth largest globally. The financial services sector in Australia is open and transparent and is supported by a world’s best practice regulatory system,” the report found


Aggregate financial market turnover - including over-the-counter and exchange-traded business – rose 5.4 per cent, to almost A$102 trillion, in the 2009-2010 financial year.


The 2011 Benchmark Report this year widened its scope to include rural and mineral resources export, energy, foreign direct investment, infrastructure and information and telecommunications technology.


The Austrade report is available from here