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Australia's Composition of Trade 2008

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Media Release

Media Release

Australia's total value of trade in goods and services increased 23.1 per cent in 2008 to $561 billion, according to a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Publication, Composition of Trade Australia 2008, released today.

In volume terms, total trade rose 7.7 per cent.

2008 Highlights:

  • Japan re-emerged as Australia's largest trading partner in 2008, with two-way trade valued at $76 billion (up 39 per cent). Australia's coal and iron ore exports to Japan increased strongly, and Australian imports of refined petroleum and transportation services also increased.
  • In 2007, China was Australia's largest trading partner but last year the total value of Australia-China trade was $74 billion (up 27 per cent). The United States was Australia's third largest trading partner ($55 billion).
  • Exports increased by 27.6 per cent in value terms to $278 billion and 3.9 per cent in volume terms.
  • Australia's top three exports were coal ($47 billion up 124.6 per cent), iron ore and concentrates ($30 billion up 85.4 per cent) and education services ($16 billion up 23.4 per cent)
  • Imports increased by 18.9 per cent in value terms to $283 billion, and 10.2 per cent in volume terms. China replaced the United States as our largest import source.
  • Japan remained Australia's largest export market ($53 billion) followed by China ($37 billion) and the Republic of Korea ($20 billion).
  • India became Australia's fifth largest export market ($16 billion) up from seventh in 2007, and it became Australia's eighth largest trading partner, up from tenth in 2007.
  • Australia's terms of trade increased by 13.4 per cent, reaching their highest level since the early 1950s.

Composition of Trade Australia 2008, (COT) provides a comprehensive analysis of the growth, direction and commodity breakdown of Australia's merchandise exports and imports in recent years. The services trade over a five year period is assessed.

The COT is part of a series published each year by DFAT, providing a valuable account of Australia's international trade in goods and services. DFAT also offers a customised consultancy service, producing reports tailored to specific requirements. For further information please contact (02) 6261 3114, or fax (02) 6261 3321 or email

The analyses and tables from the publications are placed on the DFAT website at :


Hard copy orders can also be placed at this site.

Media Enquiries: DFAT Media Liaison - 02 6261 1555

Last Updated: 14 January 2013
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