Simplifying the Cross Border Trade Experience for Businesses to Strengthen the Australian Economy

  • 2022

  • Design Research

Designed By:

  • Tobias
  • STS Experience Research and Design

Commissioned By:

The Simplified Trade System Taskforce

Designed In:


The Australian Government Simplified Trade System Implementation Taskforce (STS Taskforce) engaged Tobias to help understand and map the current whole-of-government end-to-end cross-border trade journey for Australian importers and exporters, and co-design a possible future state. Their strategic approach combined human-centered co-design with research and in-depth analysis.

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  • Australia’s cross-border trade environment is more complex, fragmented, and inefficient than it needs to be. This costs business time, effort, and money and reduces Australia’s global competitiveness. The STS Taskforce is working across all levels of government and with business to deliver the most significant cross-border trade reforms in more than a decade. The STS Taskforce engaged Tobias to help understand Australia’s current state cross-border trade environment. Working with business and trade-related agencies, we created maps of the end-to-end cross-border trade journey for traders. As part of this work, we identified business pain points, and opportunities for regulatory, process and ICT system reforms that will benefit both business and government.

  • Our in-depth and focused research involved a wide range of Australian businesses and traded goods. We identified common pain points, and opportunities for improvement across Australia’s end-to-end cross-border trade environment. We prepared two high fidelity journey maps showing the typical experiences for importers and exporters. Each map is almost 10 metres long, which reveals the complexity of our current cross-border trade environment. This work supported the STS Taskforce and other trade-related agencies to identify opportunities to improve government services by simplifying rules, integrating and modernising ICT systems and improving data-sharing.

  • Our design approach and research outcomes have better positioned Government to consider opportunities to simplify Australia’s cross-border trade environment in the short, medium and long term. Importantly, this is being done at a whole-of-government level, with business at the centre. Areas most impacted by complex regulations and outdated technologies have been identified and opportunities for improvement are being worked through. Our research has demonstrated the benefits of business and government having a shared understanding of the current environment and working together to deliver a modern, digitised, and resilient future cross-border trade system for Australia. 83 words

  • Over the course of our design research, we engaged with 159 participants across 65 Australian businesses and 5 government agencies, including: - interviews with 17 businesses (32 participants) - two rounds of initial co-design workshops with 48 businesses (57 participants) - ongoing co-design workshops with 5 government agencies (70 participants) - 10 major stakeholder engagements (including regular research showcases). Research mapped the business experience from considering importing or exporting through each stage that ultimately enables goods to move across Australia’s international border. For many businesses, this journey is exceedingly complex, with hard to find and understand regulatory requirements, manual, duplicative and disconnected processes, outdated ICT systems and limited data sharing which results in a need to provide the same information multiple times. These issues ultimately cause delays at the border and reduce our competitiveness on the global stage. Research findings, including journey maps, allowed the STS Taskforce to build the first ever baseline of Australia’s cross-border trade environment. This critical work is informing future reforms which will make cross-border trade easier and cheaper for Australian business.