Australia - a resilient trade performance

08 Feb 2019


  • Edmund Tang
  • Australian Economy

Against the backdrop of a challenging global economic environment, Australia’s trade recorded strong growth in the financial year (FY) 2017–18 according to the latest data release by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

DFAT’s Composition of Trade Australia 2018 provides a comprehensive analysis of Australia’s export and import performance as well as in-depth data on Australia’s top 25 trading partners.

After a surge of 9% in FY2016–17, the value of Australia’s two-way trade (exports and imports of goods and services) rose by 8% to almost A$800 billion in FY2017–18 (see table below).

The nominal value of Australia’s total exports grew by 8% to exceed A$400 billion, with minerals and fuels, services, manufactures and rural goods all rising during the year. Australia’s export volumes were also strong, up by 4% in FY2017–18. The volume of minerals and fuels increased by approximately 7% and services by 6%.

Australia’s top 10 exports ranked by value in FY2017–18 were: iron ore; coal; education-related services; natural gas; personal travel services (excluding education); gold; aluminium; beef; crude petroleum; and copper ore.

Australia’s overall trade growth remains balanced. The nominal value of Australia’s total imports expanded by 9% to A$395 billion in FY2017–18. Rises occurred in intermediate and other goods, services, capital goods, and consumption goods.

Import volumes increased by 7% with capital goods up 11%, services up 8%, intermediate and other goods up 6%, and consumption goods up 6%.

China remained Australia’s largest two-way goods and services trading partner in FY2017–18, accounting for around 24% (A$195 billion) of total trade. China was Australia’s largest export destination (valued at A$123 billion or 31% of Australia’s total exports) as well as import source (valued at A$71 billion or 18% of Australia’s import bill).

Japan was Australia’s second largest trading partner, accounting for around 10% (A$78 billion) followed by the United States, with 9% (A$70 billion). Rounding off Australia’s top 10 trading partners in 2017–18 were South Korea, India, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Thailand and Germany.

Regionally, Australia’s trade with Asia accounted for 66% of Australia’s total trade, Europe for 15%, America for 11%, and Oceania (largely New Zealand) for 5%.

For further economic commentary and analysis of the major trends and events that shape Australia’s trade and investment performance, visit Economics at Austrade.