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Australian exports surge to new record

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Media Release

Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Australia's total goods and services exports soared 10.2 per cent in 2011 to $313.3 billion � the first time exports have reached over $300 billion during any 12 month period.

The record export performance resulted in an annual trade surplus of $18.3 billion.

Mineral exports led the way � iron ore and copper ores in particular � increasing by 24.6 per cent to $86.7 billion in 2011, according to 'Composition of Trade, Australia 2011', released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade today.

The report shows:

  • Australia's top three exports were iron ore & concentrates ($64.1 billion, up 29.8 per cent), coal ($46.8 billion, up 8.8 per cent) and gold ($16.0 billion, up 6.4 per cent);
  • Australia's top three imports were personal travel services (excluding education) ($22.2 billion, up 8.9 per cent), crude petroleum ($20.8 billion, up 28.4 per cent) and refined petroleum ($14.3 billion, up 43.5 per cent);
  • Australia's trade volumes increased 5.1 per cent in 2011;
  • Australia's terms of trade increased 13.2 per cent to near record levels, boosting incomes; and
  • China was Australia's largest two-way trade partner ($121.1 billion), followed by Japan ($72.5 billion) and the United States ($54.2 billion).

Resources exports have more than tripled over the past decade � from $57.1 billion in 2001 to $190.5 billion in 2011. Exports of resources now account for 60.8 per cent of Australia's total exports (up from 36.2 per cent in 2001), an article in the report shows.

The resources boom has also boosted Australia's Real Gross Domestic Income as a result of the rapid growth in the terms of trade over the past 10 years, which in part can be attributed to climbing resource export prices.

The big story in Australia's commodity exports over the last decade was iron ore and coal. These two commodities have been the driving force in the huge growth in Australia's resources exports. Iron ore and coal accounted for 58.2 per cent of total resource exports in 2011, with a combined value of $110.9 billion.

The Composition of Trade, Australia 2011 report and accompanying statistics are available at /publications/stats-pubs/composition_trade.html.

For further information please contact (02) 6261 3270 or email

Last Updated: 11 July 2012
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