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Austria’s economic relations with the Asia-Pacific region

Asia and the Pacific

Asia (excluding CIS-Asia states)

Asia and the Pacific, which accounts for around 60 percent of the world's population and almost 50 percent of global economic output, is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. In 2023, the Asia-Pacific region will maintain this momentum, despite a difficult year for the global economy. According to a forecast by the International Monetary Fund, the region will record growth of 4.6 percent, contributing around 70 percent to global growth. In addition, its global economic importance continues to grow through political and economic cooperation such as the „Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership“ (RCEP), which came into force in January 2022. This trade agreement includes with Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam 15 states and represents the world's largest trading bloc, accounting for around one third of global economic output.

With 11.2 percent (+0.3 percent compared to 2021) of total trade in goods in 2022, the Asia-Pacific region also remains an important trading partner for the Austrian economy. Imports from the region recorded growth of as much as 29.2 percent. Austrian exports also showed a positive trend with an increase of 11.7 percent. The most important export markets remain China (2.7 percent of total exports), Japan (0.9 percent), South Korea (0.9 percent), Australia (0.6 percent) and India (0.6 percent). In 2022, an upward trend can be observed in Austrian exports particularly to South Korea (+36.5 percent), India (+15.1 percent) and Australia (+12.3 percent) compared to 2021.

Within the region, China holds a special position for the Austrian economy. With imports of goods totalling almost EUR 17.5 billion (+33.2 percent year-on-year) and exports of goods totalling EUR 5.3 billion (+9.1 percent year-on-year), China is not only Austria's most important trading partner in Asia, but also the second most important overseas market overall after the USA.

Within Asia, there is one bloc that has particularly stood out for its dynamic growth figures in recent years: ASEAN ("Association of Southeast Asian Nations"). After the USA and China, ASEAN is the European Union’s (EU) third-largest trading partner outside Europe and is also becoming increasingly important for Austria. Around 10 percent of Austria's trade in goods is accounted for by this region. The Austrian export industry can also benefit from trade agreements between the EU and Vietnam and Singapore. The recent trip of Federal Minister Kocher to Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand in November 2022 also reflects the importance of the region. The trip focused on the expansion of bilateral economic relations and cooperation in vocational training. The Austrian National Tourist Office also used the visit to position Austria as a vacation destination in this dynamic region.

India, Australia and New Zealand should also not go unmentioned. With growth forecasts of 6.1 percent and 6.3 percent in 2023 and 2024 respectively, India is making a significant contribution to global economic growth. Business opportunities for Austrian companies exist in areas such as industrial modernization, automotive, transport infrastructure, the energy industry and smart cities. Australia, in turn, was Austria's seventh most important overseas export destination in 2022 after the USA, China, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Mexico. Austrian exports to New Zealand also gained in popularity, increasing by 17.2 percent compared to 2021.

Further stimulus for economic relations will come from the EU's free trade agreement with New Zealand. It was signed on July 9, 2023, and approval in the plenary of the European Parliament is planned for November 2023. The agreement will reduce existing trade barriers, in particular by almost completely eliminating tariffs on goods (including cars and components, machinery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, wine, chocolate, cheese) and improving access to services and public procurement. New Zealand's participation in the EU's „Horizon Europe“ research and innovation program was also agreed. According to the European Commission, the free trade agreement is expected to boost bilateral trade by up to 30 percent within a decade. EU exports could increase by up to EUR 4.5 billion annually and EU investments in New Zealand could grow by up to 80 percent. For Austrian companies, the greatest growth opportunities are in the machinery and subcontracting sectors, in plant engineering and construction, and in the food sector.

Further negotiations for EU Free Trade Agreements with countries in the Asia-Pacific region are currently underway with Australia (resumed in August 2023), India (resumed in June 2022) and Indonesia (since July 2016). In addition, the EU has declared its intention to resume talks with the Philippines and Thailand.


Asia and the Pacific: