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Australia is an outstanding producer of primary products. The country is self-sufficient in almost all foodstuffs and is a major exporter of wool, meat, dairy products, and wheat. Wool has been a staple of the economy since the colonial period, and it was important to the development of agriculture as the country’s largest industry. Manufacturing grew rapidly between the 1940s and 1970s, and mining became a leading sector in the economy during the 1960s. In recent decades, the value of exports from the manufacturing and mining sectors has exceeded that of the agricultural sector. This is due in part to increased demand among Australia’s principal trading partners, particularly Japan, for mineral ores, to fluctuating demand on world markets for agricultural products, and to fierce competition from heavily subsidized agricultural producers in the United States and Europe. An increasing focus on services and high-tech industries has also helped to diversify and modernize the Australian economy.

In 2006 the estimated annual federal budget included US$202.8 billion in revenues and US$188.6 billion in expenditures. Gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the value of all goods and services produced, was US$780.5 billion in 2006 services contributed 69.6 percent of the GDP; industry (including mining and manufacturing) contributed 27 percent; manufacturing alone contributed 12.40 percent; and agriculture contributed 3.3 percent.

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