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The STS is a major whole-of-government microeconomic reform that is intended to streamline Australia’s trade regulations, modernise trade-related ICT systems and simplify trade processes.

The STS will:

  • boost economic growth by making cross border trade more efficient
  • improve trade system resilience with modern and globally competitive trade practices and systems
  • increase the effectiveness and efficiency of government border security and biosecurity controls
  • simplify and streamline trade processes for Australian businesses.

The STS will simplify Australia’s cross-border trade by:

  • making trade rules and processes simpler and easier to comply with across multiple government agencies
  • providing more integrated trade-related services
  • increasing digitisation and data sharing
  • ensuring continued strong border and biosecurity protections.

The STS incorporates global best practice and lessons from Australia's major trading partners. It takes a national approach by aligning with and leveraging trade initiatives led by states and territories.

The current state of cross-border trade

Understanding the current state of Australia’s cross-border trade system

Australia’s current cross-border trade environment is complex with close to 200,000 Australian import and export businesses navigating with 29 government agencies, around 200 regulations and 145 ICT systems. Understanding business’ experience of Australia’s cross-border trade environment—across regulations, processes, and ICT systems—is central to the STS. To better understand the current state of the cross-border trade system the Taskforce along with key agencies, Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (DAFF) completed the first ever baseline of Australia’s cross-border trade environment, which includes user journey maps of: 

  • the end-to-end trade experience for importers, intermediaries and exporters
  • a comprehensive regulatory review
  • an assessment of current trade-related ICT systems.

The outcomes from this work are informing and prioritising future cross-border trade reforms to ensure more effective investments. 

User journey: business talked, we listened

The STS taskforce has engaged deeply with business to understand their end-to-end trade journey, from trying to find relevant information, to seeking the correct permissions, shipping goods, having them cleared, and released (here and/or overseas), and seeing them land at their ultimate destination. To date, the STS Taskforce has engaged with 950 trade-related businesses, of various sizes and types, across Australia and internationally. From a family-run seafood exporter based in North Queensland, to companies importing prescription medicines, and some of our biggest freight forwarders operating international air and sea networks. The STS Taskforce has worked with government agencies to take a human-centred design approach to map the end-to-end journeys for importers and exporters at a whole of government level. 

This included:

  • the stages and activities that businesses need to navigate to import or export goods
  • relevant regulations and laws
  • traders' interactions with private and government services and ICT systems
  • the challenges and pain points that impact their experiences.

The STS Taskforce sought feedback on what is working well, and what can be improved in Australia’s cross-border trade through:

  • direct business meetings
  • user research and interviews
  • stakeholder roundtables
  • a virtual Town Hall 
  • existing government-business engagement fora
  • submissions received in response to the STS public consultation paper.

At the highest level, business told us that Australia’s cross-border trade relies on outdated and complex regulation and ICT systems. Businesses said they face challenges navigating complicated and siloed import and export processes. This costs them time, effort and money.