The Australian gross national product (GNP) is of the order of US$300 billion per annum, which is about one‐third of that of UK, France and Italy, but a small population of 17 million gives a comparative per capita income. The metals and the engineering‐related manufacturing industry contributes about US$50 billion towards this GNP, and in export terms now the manufacturing sector has, in 1991, overtaken the rural sector (US$11.2 for manufacturing vs 11 billion for rural), although minerals exports still predominate as the major exports earner at US$22.8 billion per annum. The Australian manufactured exports have grown at an average annual rate of 14 per cent during the period 1984 to 1990, compared with OECD figures of 8 per cent for the average annual growth rate of the total market. Approximately 50 per cent of Australian manufactured exports in 1990/91 were elaborately transformed manufactures (ETMs) which are mainly differentiated goods or finished products. A key facilitator in the production of ETMs is the adoption by the Australian manufacturing industry of the advanced manufacturing technologies of CAD/CAM and Programmable Automation. The thrust towards the development of the manufacturing sector in Australia is however now unmistakable, and this will unfold new opportunities for automation and advanced manufacturing technologies in general.
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