The Australian economy is structured primarily as a commodities exporter economy, however in recent years it has been moving in the direction of a knowledge based economy. The Australian economy also continues to develop in the service and sophisticated manufacturing industries. Over the past 15 years, the Australian economy has evolved from mostly an agricultural based economy, with agricultural products and other commodities dominating the exports, to a well balanced economy that now relies on services and manufacturing to round out national exports. In 2003 manufacturing and merchandise trade led Australian exports accounting for A$107.8 billion, with services accounting for A$32.5 billion or 18.1% of all exports, and agricultural and mining exports accounted for only a combined A$30.6 billion. These numbers obviously show that Australia is coming into its own as a major player in the global market, exporting sophisticated manufacturing products and services.
Australia is moving steadily towards becoming a totally Knowledge-Based Economy (KBE). This means that the economy is driven by the production, distribution and use of knowledge and information. Knowledge-based industries now contribute almost half of Australia's GDP.
The competitiveness of Australia's international trade is becoming increasingly reliant on skills, knowledge, innovation and enterprise, as well as domestic and international information networks.
Many advanced, industrialized nations have the same sort of structure as Australia. Most concentrate their exports on what they do best and are most efficient at, which are generally services and complex manufacturing products. Australia becoming a major exporter in these areas shows that it is beginning to have comparative advantages in capital abundant areas, and is beginning to have a disadvantage in labor abundant industries. However, Australia is still a strong commodity and agricultural producer, so any disadvantage they might have is slight.