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The Australian market is obviously conditioned by the vast dimensions of the country. The centres of distribution are concentrated in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to the east and Perth to the west. These cities are so much distant from each other that each one of them constitutes a market in itself.

The Business to Consumer (B to C) market

Four big chains carry out the distribution of food products and share 80% of the market by themselves: Woolworth's , Coles Myer, Franklins and Davids.
The distribution of consumer products is more diversified and segmented, although purchase centres are becoming more and more importance.

The Business to Business (B to B) market

The import of industrial products is undertaken by a small number of big groups and holdings which control very large parts of the market in different sectors.

Transportation of goods

By road

About 11 million vehicles are using Australian highways. The most important category of highways is the local road with 685,000 km, out of a total of 810,000 km. More than 80% of the road transport takes place on 20% of the road network of which 18,500 kms are National highways. Between 1994 and 1997, within the framework of the program relating to the road network, the Australian Federal government has spent more than 2.5 billion dollars for national highways. This network links the capitals and a number of regional centres. The road transport represents more than 70% of the goods traffic. The number of vehicles on the road in October 1998 was 11.75 million, of which 1.7 million light trucks and 427,000 heavy trucks meant for goods transport. The management of the road network and its safety are ensured by Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

By rail

Australia has a 40,000 km railway network. The largest part of this network belongs to the State, but there are, in each State, private railway lines which satisfy the needs of agricultural, mining or industrial zones.
The Australian railway network has undergone a strong reform in the 90's, including the concentration and privatisation of the networks, freight and passenger services.
As far as freight is concerned, the creation in 1991 of the National Rail Corporation (NRC) has to be taken under consideration; although remaining in the public sector, it is progressively going back to long distance traffic under the federal powers of the Government. In 1997, the Australian National Company was privatised and sold to three American, Australian and New Zealander consortia. In 1999, V/Line Freight Corporation was sold to Freight Australia, the Australian consortia supported by Rail America. This deep change in the Australian Railway System has already brought the first profits in terms of competitiveness in comparison with other internal modes of transport, although a great deal of public freight companies such as Westrail or NRC continue to operate.
There is one Trans Australian railway train crossing the entire country from East to West, from Sydney to Perth.

By sea

Australia has 15,000 km of coast as well as 70 ports of a certain commercial importance, of which we may point out Sydney, Fremantle (Perth), Melbourne and Brisbane. The condition of this continent-size island called Australia explains the importance of maritime transport in its international trade, air transport being used mainly for perishable or fragile products. On average, every year, 350 million tons of goods are transported through the Australian ports.

By air

Although the international transport of goods is almost entirely carried out by sea, international transport of physical persons is done by airways. The national company is Qantas, and there are domestic companies, the main of which are Ansett Australia and East West. All the State capitals are within the proximity of an international airport, of which the two most important are Sydney et Melbourne.



Patents and brands

The Office of Patents and Trade Marks is the institution responsible for protecting intellectual property and it is to this institution that one must address every application for patent right.
Australia is a member of Paris Convention on industrial property. Australia has signed the Rome Convention and Bern as well as the Convention established by The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). In specific matters relating to patents, Australia is signatory to Trade Mark Treaty.

Texts currently applying to patents/brands

  Text Date entered into law Period of validity Comment
Trademark     On 1995   Period of validity of 10 years   Renewable indefinitely  
Patent   Patent Law   On 1999   15 years    
Trademark   Trademark Law   On 1984   10 years (around 9 years and 10 months)   If the trademark is not registered during 5 consecutive years, it then belongs to the public sector.  

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