Australia's trade expands in face of global turbulence

Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

28 August 2012

Australia's trade grew strongly in 2011 despite continued global turbulence, according to publications released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade today.

Three new geographic trade statistical publications showed that in 2011:

Not only did commodity exports continue to surge, but exports of high-end manufactured goods also grew strongly. This came despite the high Australian dollar, demonstrating the innovation and enterprise of Australian industry.

Australia's exports to Europe of jewellery, measuring instruments and other so-called elaborately transformed manufactures increased by $322 million (or 10 per cent) in 2011. Exports of elaborately transformed manufactures to the Americas and East Asia also grew, by 12 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. Our imports of elaborately transformed manufactures from all three regions also grew in 2011.

Iron ore exports to East Asia grew 30 per cent in 2011, to reach $64 billion, underpinning strong growth in Australia's exports to East Asia. Overall, exports to East Asia were valued at $204.4 billion, up 16 per cent on 2010. Wheat, beef and other food exports grew by $2.2 billion to reach $15.5 billion.

Imports from East Asia rose four per cent to $131.9 billion in 2011. Fuels – up 19 per cent to $22.5 billion – and services – up 10 per cent to $18 billion – showed the strongest growth, however elaborately transformed manufactures such as passenger motor vehicles, telecommunications equipment and computers still dominate – accounting for 59 per cent of imports from East Asia.

The value of exports to Europe was $31.8 billion in 2011, up $1.4 billion on the previous year. Exports of oil seeds and other food drove the increase, rising by $847 million, along with fuels, which were up $610 million.

Australian imports from Europe were worth $61.3 billion, up 6 per cent from 2010. Imports of medicines, passenger motor vehicles and civil engineering equipment lead to strong growth in the elaborately transformed manufactures category, which grew by 6 per cent to $35.8 billion.

Exports to the Americas totalled $22.2 billion, up 6 per cent on 2010. Growth in exports of elaborately transformed manufactures such as aircraft and parts and mineral exports were the main reason for this growth.

Imports from the Americas totalled $47.8 billion, up 11 per cent on 2010. Goods vehicles, civil engineering equipment, medicine and other elaborately transformed manufactures accounted for 51 per cent of total imports and rose 11 per cent to $24.2 billion in 2011.

Combined, East Asia, Europe and the Americas accounted for 82 per cent of Australia's international trade, valued at almost $500 billion in 2011. East Asia alone accounted for over 55 per cent of total trade, up 10 percentage points from 45 per cent in 2001.

These publications are part of a series of trade publications published each year by DFAT - http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/statistics.html.