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March 2012 International Data Comparisons (IDC)

4 April 2012

Download Austrade’s International Data Comparisons (IDC). It is an easy-to-read comparison of Australia’s performance and position across key economic and financial related indicators. The IDC has been updated to include data effective to 15 March 2012.

Points of interest include:

  • Australian National Accounts released on March 7 showed that the Australian economy expanded by 0.4 per cent (seasonally adjusted) in the fourth quarter of 2011 following an increase of 0.8 per cent in the third quarter. Through 2011, the economy grew 2.3 per cent. The increase this quarter was driven by Household final consumption expenditure (adding 0.3 percentage points), Changes in inventories (adding 0.3 percentage points) and Net exports (adding 0.3 percentage points). Partially offsetting these rises was Private gross fixed capital formation (detracting 0.4 percentage points).
  • Australia’s headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) was unchanged in the December quarter of 2011 following a rise of 0.6 per cent in the September quarter. The annual rate of increase for the year ending December 2011 was 3.1 per cent, slowing from a 3.5 per cent rise through the year to the September quarter 2011. The trimmed mean for the December quarter stands at 2.6 per cent (2010 compared 2011), within the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) target band of 2 to 3 per cent.
  • Australia’s unemployment rate has increased slightly from 5.1 per cent in January to 5.2 per cent in February 2012. Year-on-year, the unemployment rate has risen 0.2 points. Full-time employment was steady while part-time employment decreased by 15,400 persons. Despite this increase, the unemployment rate remains low compared to other advanced economies including Canada (7.4 per cent), France (9.4 per cent), Italy (8.1 per cent), UK (8.4 per cent) and USA (8.3 per cent).
  • Australia’s total value of exports and imports of goods and services with China exceeded A$120 billion in 2011. China was Australia’s largest two-way trading partner, our largest export market (A$78 billion) and source of imports (A$44 billion). Japan remains Australia’s second largest trading partner with a total two-way trade value of A$73 billion. The USA remains a significant trading partner with total value of two-way trade of almost A$50 billion.
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) statistics show the low levels of General Government Net Debt as a percentage of GDP in Australia compared to other economies. Net debt is a commonly quoted measure of a government’s financial strength. The IMF forecast for Australia’s government net debt in 2012 is 9.4 per cent of GDP while the forecast for Japan is (139 per cent), USA (78.4 per cent), UK (76.9 per cent), Italy (100.7 per cent), and France (83.6 per cent).
  • At its March 2012 meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 4.25 per cent. On balance, the Bank considered that it was appropriate for interest rates to be around their average levels, which was judged to be the case at present. The RBA noted that recent indicators of global economic activity had picked up modestly after softening in late 2011, though the economic situation in Europe continued to weigh on the outlook.

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