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Home » Blog » U.S. Commercial Service Boat Export to Australia

Blog: U.S. Commercial Service Boat Export to Australia

By Admin | June 13, 2018

Australia is as large as the continental U.S., but with one fifteenth the population. More than 90% of the Australian population lives on or within 100km/60mi of its extensive coastline, i.e. more than 20 million people. Five million people are estimated to enjoy recreational boating in Australia. Australia has a longer coastline than the United States and it is entirely ice-free. There are an estimated 758 estuaries, rivers and lakes. The climate is warm to hot most of the year and all of its major cities, with the exception of its national capital Canberra, hug the coast. Even Canberra is built around a large artificial lake and has numerous pleasure craft in its marinas – as well as easy road access to the coast 150km/90mi away.

There is a strong focus on water sports and recreation, including recreational fishing. The Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race is one of the iconic events of the Australian summer (December through February). Sydney Harbor is one of the most celebrated harbors in the world and home to the largest concentration of pleasure craft in Australia. Australia is also the world’s fastest growing cruise tourism market with over one million travelers – in excess of 5% of the population – the first time any region in the world has achieved such a high market penetration.

Australia boasts many options for use of pleasure craft, from Sydney Harbor to the protected waters inside the Great Barrier Reef to the open ocean off the southern coast. It also offers a strong marina community, with whose marinas offering 20 or more on-water storage spaces are approximately 400. The total number of marina boat storage spaces including dry-land boat storage exceeds 40,000. The average number of storage spaces per marina is about 110, and this storage capacity represents 5% of the more than 850,000 registered recreational boats in Australia. Add in the numerous small craft and paddle craft that do not require registration, and the number of recreational boats exceeds 1 million. Three Australian States have more than 100,000 recreational boats registered – Queensland (200,000+), New South Wales (200,000+) and Victoria (150,000+). Australia also has a strong boat-building and shipbuilding sector, including companies such as Austal, which has invested heavily in its Mobile, AL shipbuilding facility where it employs over 4,000 people.

Australian Boat Export Market

Australia has consistently ranked second behind Canada as a market for U.S. exports of recreational marine products, including in 2010-13 where purchases from the United States exceeded USD 200 million per year. Demand began to fall away in 2014, at the same time as the Australian resources ‘boom’ peaked and high-paying positions at mining and energy projects declined. With the resources sector still depressed, compounded by the Australian dollar depreciating against the U.S. dollar, Australia’s importance as an export market for the U.S. has fallen to 4th behind Canada, Mexico and Belgium – although there has been an 18% upswing in the June 2017 figures over the same period in 2016. The United States remains the leading supplier to Australia overall in this sector, and the falling value of the Australian dollar has also helped to make Australia a more competitive and successful exporter of pleasure boats. A Free Trade Agreement has been in place between Australia and the United States since January 2005. Import restrictions are not an issue, but intending exporters should remember that Australia is another country with its own standards, including aspects like electrical wiring requirements. Finding an experienced local distributor is a key step towards export success in the Australian market.

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