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Australia's trade with East Asia, Europe and the Americas: 2012

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Media Release

Media release

Three new geographic trade statistical publications released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade today showed that in 2012:

Australia's exports to East Asia were valued at $197.6 billion, down 3.3 per cent on the previous year.

  • Iron ore exports to East Asia, at $54.6 billion, accounted for over a quarter of total exports. Gold (up 31.1 per cent), medicines (up 30.2 per cent), refined petroleum (up 40.2 per cent) and nickel ores & concentrates (up 47.7 per cent) all grew strongly in 2012.

Imports from East Asia rose 8.2 per cent to $142.6 billion in 2012.

  • Accounting for 59.7 per cent of total imports, elaborately transformed manufactures (such as passenger motor vehicles, telecommunications equipment and computers) grew 9.4 per cent to $85.1 billion. Fuels (mainly refined and crude petroleum) grew 8.1 per cent to $24.3 billion.

The value of exports to Europe was $29.2 billion in 2012, down $2.3 billion on the previous year. Services exports accounted for a third of total exports, valued at $9.7 billion.

  • Australia's top merchandise exports to Europe were gold ($4.2 billion), coal ($3.2 billion), oil seeds ($1.1 billion) and other ores & concentrates – mainly zinc and lead ores & concentrates ($735 million).

Australian imports from Europe were worth $63.5 billion, up 3.4 per cent from 2011.

  • Medicines, passenger motor vehicles and civil engineering equipment largely accounted for growth in imports in the elaborately transformed manufactures category, which grew 7.6 per cent to $38.5 billion.

In 2012, exports to the Americas totalled $21.4 billion, down 4.4 per cent on 2011.

  • Growth in exports of food (such as beef, up 36.1 per cent to $1.2 billion) partly offset falls in other exports. Coal (down 15.4 per cent to $1.2 billion) and aircraft and parts (up 15.8 per cent to $698 million) were the next top exports to the Americas.

Imports from the Americas were valued at $51.3 billion, up 7 per cent on the previous year.

  • Vehicles, civil engineering equipment, medicines and other elaborately transformed manufactures accounted for 54.8 per cent of total imports, and rose 16.3 per cent to $28.1 billion in 2012.

Combined, East Asia, Europe and the Americas accounted for the majority of Australia's international trade in 2012. East Asia accounted for 55.2 per cent, Europe for 15 per cent and the Americas for 11.8 per cent of total trade.

These trade publications 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 are available on the DFAT website, or by sending an email to for a customised consultancy service.

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Last Updated: 13 August 2013
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