Foreign-owned businesses make a significant contribution to the Australian economy. There are only limited statistics available that can measure this contribution. To help address this gap in the statistics, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Austrade commissioned the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to conduct a new study on the Economic Activity of Foreign-owned Businesses in Australia.

The scope of the new study included all businesses operating in Australia with an Australian Business Number (ABN) and reporting to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The study excluded the Households and General government industries. The range of output variables for the new study was also increased. The ABS Business Longitudinal Analysis Data Environment (BLADE) supplemented with the ATO Businesses Income Tax (BIT) dataset was the source for the new study. The 2014-15 reference period was the latest available data from the ATO. As a result, later years could not be included in this release.


  • In 2014-15, there were 9,946 majority foreign-owned operating businesses in Australia. There were also 1,208 Australian-owned companies with minority foreign ownership.
  • Foreign-owned businesses in Australia had assets valued at $1.9 trillion in 2014-15, employed 966,200 persons and paid wages and salaries valued at $67 billion. They made operating profits of $50 billion and contributed 11 per cent of total business tax revenue.
  • Foreign-owned businesses on average also paid higher wages and salaries than Australian-owned businesses and produced more output per employee.
  • These businesses contributed $222 billion in industry value added to the Australian business economy (excluding the Financial and insurance services industry which could not be measured), representing one fifth of total Australian business output.
  • These businesses recorded sales of goods and services of $770 billion including an estimated $95 billion exported.
  • Foreign direct investment in Australia (both majority and minority ownership) supported the employment of nearly 1.2 million persons (or 1 in 10 jobs in Australia).
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978-1-74322-455-7 (PDF)
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