Currency, Banks, Investment
1 Australian dollar (A$)=100 cents.
There are 5c, 10c, 20c, $1 and $2 coins, and there are $5, $10, $20 and $100 notes.
The Australian dollar is a fully convertible currency. The government doesn't maintain currency controls.
2. Banks and Money Exchange
For the exchange rate to the U.S. dollar, check the currency converter at the top of the home page. U.S. dollars and traveler checks can be exchanged at banks or moneychangers throughout the country. Many have 24-hour ATMs attached to them. Generally, banks are open 9:30am-4pm, Monday-Friday.
Credit and charge cards, such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express, are widely accepted. Also cards connected to the international banking network should work, assuming you know your pin.
Australia has large mineral and energy resources industries. Bauxite, coal, copper, gold and iron ore are mined and exported. Oil and gas fields have been discovered off the coast. Most of the land is too dry for agriculture. Sugarcane grows in Queensland and wheat is cultivated in the south. Cattle and sheep are raised for their meat and wool - for both domestic and foregn consumption. Fertile lands along the coastal plains host a thriving wine industry. In the cites and towns the service sector dominates the economy.
Australia is an excellent market offering diverse business and industrial opportunities for U.S. companies and exporters, according to the U.S. Government's Commercial Service. American exports in 2004 totalled approximately $28 billion in products and services-a $9 billion trade surplus with Australia.
Australia's economy continues to be strong(www.economist.com/countries/Australia/), offering a familiar legal, financial and corporate framework as well as limited administrative screening mechanisms for American entry.
The Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) became law on January 1, 2005. The FTA (www.dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/us_fta/index.html) allows American companies and exporters to gain a competitive edge in the Australian market by:
* Eliminating Australian tariffs on most U.S. manufactured products.
* Providing U.S. companies with equal access to Australian Government projetcs.
* Improving intellectual property protection for American firms.
* Giving American firms an advantage over third party competitors.
* Providing incentives to explore the growing Australian market.
Under the terms of the agreement, a Joint Committee meets annually to supervise implementation of the AUSFTA. The inaugural Joint Committee was held March 7, 2006 in Washington, DC.
For more information on exporting products and services to Australia or doing business there, check the websites of the United States International Trade Commission (www.buyusa.gov/australia/en/fta.html), the Australian Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs, Invest Australia, Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board and the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia.
It's possible for American institutions and individuals to participate in the Australian financial markets through the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and its listed companies. Located in Sydney, the ASX is the main stock exchange in Australia.
The major market index is the S&P/ASX 200, an index made up of the top 200 companies in the ASX. This supplemented the All Ordinaries index, although this quote still appears frequently next to the S&P/ASX 200.
In terms of market capitalization, the largest stocks traded on the ASX are BHP, Telstra and the National Australia Bank. The mining commodities sector comprises a big slice of the market.
The ASX regulates listed companies, although the exchange itself is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Brokerages that dominate the Australian financial markets are Macquarie Bank, UBS, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, CSFB, Deutsche Bank, ABN AMRO and Morgan Stanley. Trading is conducted weekdays, 10am-4pm, Sydney time.