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Australia's export volumes grow strongly in 2012

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Media Release

Media release

Australia's total export volumes grew by over 6 per cent in 2012 according to 'Composition of Trade, Australia 2012' and 'Trade in Primary and Manufactured Products 2012' released today by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This growth in export volumes was double the average rate over the last 10 years and the highest annual rate of growth in export volumes since 2000.

Mineral and fuel exports increased by 10.9 per cent in 2012, leading the growth in export volumes. This is well above the average rate of 5.1 per cent for these exports over the last 10 years. Rural export volumes also grew strongly, up 11.6 per cent in 2012.

Overall, export values fell 4.2 per cent to $300.1 billion in 2012, as the increase in export volumes was outweighed by the fall in export prices (down 10.2 per cent).

The publications show that China remained Australia's top trading partner in 2012, with two-way trade of $125.2 billion, equal to 20 per cent of total trade. Japan ($71.1 billion) and the United States ($56.2 billion) followed, accounting for 11.5 per cent and 9.1 per cent of total trade respectively.

Other highlights from the publications are:

  • Exports of natural gas rose strongly, up 21.1 per cent to $13.4 billion. Natural gas is now Australia's 5th largest export after iron ore, coal, gold and education services;
  • 2012 was the third straight year of rising elaborately transformed manufactures (ETM) exports, up 2.1 per cent to $28.1 billion. Within this category exports of pharmaceutical products rose 15.4 per cent to $4.2 billion; road motor vehicles and parts were up 20.3 per cent to $2.8 billion and machinery for specialised industries were up 5.2 per cent to $4.2 billion;
  • Food exports also performed well, with wheat exports up 7.5 per cent to $6.5 billion and vegetables, fruit and nuts, up 28.9 per cent to $1.9 billion;
  • Australia's imports of goods and services rose 7.4 per cent in 2012, with strong growth in ETM imports, up 10 per cent to $160.2 billion; and
  • Australia's terms of trade fell 10.7 per cent.

The leading feature piece in this year's Composition of Trade, is an article outlining new OECD research on "Trade in value added" which recognises that many goods and services are assembled using inputs from more than one country – using global value chains.

Composition of Trade and Trade in Primary and Manufactured Products are part of a series published each year by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Australia's international trade in goods and services.

The analyses and tables from the publications, along with Excel pivot tables, are available on the DFAT website /publications/statistics.html or please email for a customised consultancy service.

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Last Updated: 20 June 2013
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