31 January 2024 5 mins read

Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement

A combination of low economic growth and an expected general election, with the uncertainty of a potential change of government, means it’s unsurprising that UK businesses are seeking to benefit from the lucrative growth opportunity and diversification presented by the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA).

Live from 31st May 2023, the A-UKFTA offers several significant benefits for both UK and Australian businesses, which can be especially advantageous for both small medium enterprises (SMEs) and global multinationals.

According to the UK’s Department for Business & Trade, one of the key benefits of the A-UKFTA is the access it gives to billions of pounds worth of government contracts. UK companies are now able to bid for Australian government contracts worth around £10 billion per year on an equal footing with Australian companies. It is the most substantial level of access Australia has ever granted in a free trade agreement. UK businesses now have the legally guaranteed opportunity to bid for contracts in major infrastructure projects like railway constructions and road upgrades, as well as for financial and business services procured by Australian government bodies covered by the deal.

Finding opportunities

Procurement opportunities are posted electronically, and businesses can search for Australian government procurement contracts at AusTender. All open Approaches to Market are published on AusTender by Australian Government agencies, and you can set up notifications for areas of interest.

The Australian government helpfully provides a forward view in APPs and PPs. You can find this on AusTender.

  • Annual Procurement Plans (APPs) provide information on significant procurements entities plan to undertake over the next twelve months. APPs include a concise strategic procurement outlook statement, which broadly discusses any key, major or strategic initiatives from which the entity expects procurements to arise.
  • Planned Procurements (PPs) provide the subject matter of the procurement, the estimated financial year quarter of the approach to market (ATM), whether the procurement will potentially allow multi-entity access, and the goods and services category code (UNSPSC code).

The UK equivalents to find opportunities are the Find a Tender service that lists high value contracts above £138,760 (including VAT) and Contracts Finder that lets you search for information about contracts worth over £12,000 (including VAT). It’s worth noting that a new single platform for the UK is expected to be launched to coincide with the UK procurement reform due Autumn 2024.

Things to consider

Make sure you understand and can successfully navigate local procurement procedures. Knowing the rules of the game should be one of the first things to consider when deciding whether to compete in another market.

Determine which contracts you can realistically bid for with an acceptable probability of winning and prospect of a successful delivery. Participating in a procurement is one thing, supplying the goods and services with effective contract management and customer service is another. Overcoming the geographical and time zone challenges won’t be easy but with good planning and resourcing, it can be done.

While businesses are not required to have previously been awarded a contract by the procuring party, there are some limited conditions for participation in government procurement, which include:

  • relevant prior experience to meet advertised requirements
  • financial capacity, commercial and technical abilities, as well as business activity of the supplier both inside and outside the territory of procuring Party.

Teaming and partnering with a reputable local business could give businesses a foothold in the new market.

Widen your competitor research and analysis.  Were you expecting a UK/Australian competitor?

Support for SMEs

Both the UK and Australia recognise the important contribution of SMEs to economic growth. Both countries will ensure transparency on any preferential treatment for SMEs and the criteria for this.

Where possible, the UK and Australia will make all tender documentation available free of charge and will look to simplify processes for SMEs.

Where to find help

As a specialist bidding services consultancy based in the UK and Australia, BidCraft is ideally positioned to help businesses successfully compete for government contracts in either country.  Our extensive bidding expertise and local market knowledge bridges the gap for businesses trying to find and successfully compete for the right contract opportunities.

Our BidEdge strategic bid support services help you successfully bid for contracts in Australia or the UK by helping you to produce compelling win strategies as well as high-quality and high-scoring bids.

Our BidCode business change services get you match-fit by transforming your bidding processes and capabilities to help you be the best you can be at bidding – guided by the new international bidding standard BSI PAS 360:2023.

Our BidSkills learning and development services equip your teams with the skills and confidence to create compelling proposals that reflect your business’s collective expertise.


Useful links

Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Australia


Find a Tender service (UK)

Contracts Finder (UK)