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5422.0 - International Merchandise Trade, Australia, Sep 2002  
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Feature Article - Trade Through Australia's Ports


This article was published in International Merchandise Trade, Australia (ABS Catalogue No. 5422.0) September 2002.


INTRODUCTION

This article examines the composition and changes in Australia's international merchandise trade through its seaports and airports over the past four years, in both value and volume terms. The transport of domestically traded goods (e.g. between Sydney and Melbourne) is excluded from this analysis.

Commodities are classified to the Standard International Trade Classification Rev. 3 (SITC Rev. 3), consistent with other data in this publication. Data are on a merchandise trade basis. Gross weight has been used to provide a common unit of measurement for
trade volumes across all commodities.

Confidentiality restrictions affect some of the analysis. Depending on the type of restriction applied, data for confidential commodities may have been:

a) excluded from the figures for an individual port; or

b) included in the total figures for the port, but classified to a special category 'Confidential commodities'.

In 2001-02, approximately $0.5b of exports was not attributed to an individual port listed in Tables F1 and F2 for the reasons outlined in (a) above. The only ports affected were Kwinana and Bunbury.


TOTAL TRADE

In 2001-02, Australia's total merchandise trade (exports plus imports) amounted to 566m tonnes of goods valued at $240.8b. This represented a 15% increase (by weight) and a 31% increase (by value) since 1998-99. By value, 76% of goods were transported by
sea, accounting for $99.2b (82%) of exports and $84.6b (71%) of imports. Goods transported by air accounted for 24% ($56.7b) of total trade.

Exports accounted for 90% of total trade by weight and 50% by value in 2001-02. The total value of Australia's merchandise exports grew from $86.0b in 1998-99 to $121.1b in 2001-02, an increase of 41%. The volume of exports increased by only 17%, the difference reflecting price increases for some commodities and the depreciation of the Australian dollar against many major currencies. Imports increased 3% by weight and 23% by value in the same period.


PORTS

By value, the seaports of Melbourne ($47.7b in 2001-02), Sydney ($38.2b) and Brisbane ($18.3b), and Mascot Airport ($28.9b), were the largest ports, each handling substantial values of both exports and imports.

Ports that handled the largest tonnage of international goods were the seaports of Newcastle, Hay Point and Port Hedland, which were each responsible for around 70m tonnes of trade (or 12-13% of total trade by weight). For these three seaports, 99% of trade was exports, particularly in raw minerals (coal and iron ore).

Of the top 10 (sea)ports by weight, Port Walcott, Gladstone, Hay Point and Melbourne experienced the biggest increases in total trade by weight over the past three years, ranging between a 50% increase for Port Walcott to a 28% increase for Melbourne. In contrast, Kwinana fell 18%, driven down by a fall in both exports and imports.

TABLE F1: EXPORTS AND IMPORTS - Value
EXPORTSIMPORTSTOTAL TRADE



Changes from 1998- 1999 to
1998-1999
1999-2000
2000-2001
2001-2002
1998-1999
1999-2000
2000-2001
2001-2002
2001-2002
2001-2002
2001-2002
Ports
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
%
%

Seaports
    Melbourne (Vic)
12,730
15,202
18,286
18,844
23,358
25,066
27,620
28,894
47,738
19.8
32.3
    Sydney (NSW)
5,788
6,830
8,305
8,104
24,846
26,828
29,061
30,133
38,237
15.9
24.8
    Brisbane (Qld)
5,262
5,983
7,354
7,768
7,597
9,119
10,489
10,520
18,288
7.6
42.2
    Newcastle (NSW)
4,761
4,182
5,109
5,749
288
241
303
371
6,120
2.5
21.2
    Hay Point (Qld)
3,392
3,402
4,303
5,279
0
0
0
0
5,279
2.2
55.6
    Port Adelaide (SA)
2,467
3,056
4,199
4,685
2,100
2,157
1,708
1,906
6,591
2.7
44.3
    Fremantle (WA)
3,413
3,655
4,391
4,470
4,851
4,476
4,835
4,936
9,406
3.9
13.8
    Gladstone (Qld)
2,974
2,960
4,017
4,157
208
290
308
356
4,513
1.9
41.8
    Townsville (Qld)
2,179
2,324
3,068
2,853
479
445
373
452
3,305
1.4
24.3
    Kwinana (WA)
2,250
2,720
3,168
2,773
888
1,268
1,310
1,465
4,238
1.8
35.1
    Port Botany (NSW)
2,245
2,304
2,640
2,540
0
1
14
0
2,540
1.1
13.1
    Port Hedland (WA)
1,758
1,708
2,314
2,515
45
43
38
13
2,528
1.0
40.2
    Bunbury (WA)
1,642
2,173
2,611
2,471
102
82
162
179
2,650
1.1
51.9
    Port Kembla (NSW)
1,662
1,589
2,079
1,908
178
211
347
286
2,194
0.9
19.2
    Geelong (Vic)
627
899
1,339
1,391
868
1,506
1,981
1,780
3,171
1.3
112.1
    Portland (Vic)
893
1,043
1,356
1,211
81
64
120
85
1,296
0.5
33.1
    Launceston (Tas)
521
682
892
953
93
111
174
275
1,228
0.5
100.0
    Other (a)(b)
13,383
17,499
23,178
21,573
1,658
3,033
3,652
2,992
24,565
10.2
63.3
    Total seaports
67,946
78,209
98,609
99,244
67,640
74,941
82,495
84,643
183,887
76.4
35.6
Airports
    Mascot (NSW)
6,066
6,926
8,105
8,085
17,387
20,060
22,203
20,765
28,850
12.0
23.0
    Melbourne (Vic)
5,040
5,057
5,585
6,173
7,580
8,485
8,497
8,625
14,798
6.1
17.3
    Perth (WA)
5,835
5,933
5,787
6,133
2,959
3,136
2,456
2,466
8,599
3.6
-2.2
    Brisbane (Qld)
580
630
715
736
1,072
1,335
1,385
1,668
2,404
1.0
45.5
    Adelaide (SA)
213
218
270
280
451
493
500
524
804
0.3
21.1
    Darwin (NT)
103
90
161
230
105
109
129
197
427
0.2
105.3
    Other
97
103
161
131
333
1,435
569
685
816
0.3
89.8
    Total airports
17,932
18,956
20,784
21,769
29,887
35,053
35,741
34,930
56,699
23.5
18.6
    Parcel post
114
121
146
116
84
84
82
78
194
0.1
-2.0
All ports
85,991
97,286
119,539
121,129
97,611
110,078
118,317
119,651
240,780
100.0
31.1

(a) Includes commodities that do not pass through an Australian port, e.g. exports of natural gas and crude petroleum from the North-West shelf and Timor Sea.
(b) Includes exports not attributed to a port due to confidentiality restrictions.

TABLE F2: EXPORTS AND IMPORTS - Gross weight
EXPORTSIMPORTSTOTAL TRADE



Changes from 1998- 1999 to
1998-1999
1999-2000
2000-2001
2001-2002
1998-1999
1999-2000
2000-2001
2001-2002
2001-2002
2001-2002
2001-2002
Ports
t'000
t'000
t'000
t'000
t'000
t'000
t'000
t'000
t'000
%
%

Seaports
    Newcastle (NSW)
70,807
68,154
70,062
71808
1,316
956
888
1,062
72,870
12.9
1.0
    Hay Point (Qld)
53,738
63,894
68,575
69,429
0
0
0
0
69,429
12.3
29.2
    Port Hedland (WA)
60,388
60,306
68,484
68,212
15
160
132
72
68,284
12.1
13.0
    Gladstone (Qld)
30,130
32,120
38,527
40,053
1,110
1,270
1,252
1,236
41,289
7.3
32.2
    Port Walcott (WA)
17,918
26,437
28,665
26,952
0
0
0
0
26,952
4.8
50.4
    Melbourne (Vic)
7,106
7,950
9,368
12,318
8,426
8,239
7,129
7,630
19,948
3.5
28.4
    Brisbane (Qld)
7,597
8,429
8,905
10,252
8,459
9,132
8,382
8,392
18,644
3.3
16.1
    Sydney (NSW)
3,002
3,527
3,963
4,141
8,991
8,924
9,190
10,150
14,291
2.5
19.2
    Port Kembla (NSW)
12,726
11,679
13,762
12,295
1,484
1,775
1,630
1,893
14,188
2.5
-0.2
    Kwinana (WA)
8,237
7,609
7,052
6,398
5,753
5,277
3,957
5,144
11,542
2.0
-17.5
    Abbot Point (Qld)
9,725
8,255
9,199
11,108
0
0
0
0
11,108
2.0
14.2
    Geelong (Vic)
3,108
3,925
4,921
4,611
4,816
4,901
5,043
5,328
9,939
1.8
25.4
    Bunbury (WA)
7,339
8,423
8,784
8,832
710
822
1,107
1,051
9,883
1.7
22.8
    Townsville (Qld)
3,621
3,580
4,387
3,825
3,820
3,795
3,595
3,939
7,764
1.4
4.3
    Esperance (WA)
2,775
3,085
3,815
5,391
257
205
129
371
5,762
1.0
90.0
    Fremantle (WA)
2,664
3,678
3,278
3,622
1,731
1,535
1,687
1,816
5,438
1.0
23.7
    Port Adelaide (SA)
2,658
2,909
3,516
4,044
1,797
2,276
903
957
5,001
0.9
12.3
    Other (a)(b)
129,012
138,730
140,941
142,998
7,547
7,094
9,555
9,000
151,998
26.8
11.3
    Total seaports
432,551
462,690
496,204
506,289
56,232
56,361
54,579
58,041
564,330
99.6
15.5
Airports
    Mascot (NSW)
1,220
1,215
1,224
1,277
153
169
153
139
1,416
0.2
3.1
    Melbourne (Vic)
513
466
463
476
92
101
93
88
564
0.1
-6.8
    Brisbane (Qld)
39
41
45
46
19
22
21
23
69
0.0
19.0
    Perth (WA)
30
33
39
35
13
13
12
11
46
0.0
7.0
    Adelaide (SA)
7
6
7
8
5
4
5
4
12
0.0
0.0
    Darwin (NT)
1
2
3
2
1
1
0
1
3
0.0
50.0
    Other
7
7
9
6
1
1
1
1
7
0.0
-12.5
    Total airports
1,817
1,770
1,790
1,850
284
311
285
267
2,117
0.4
0.8
    Parcel post
0
52
0
0
1
1
1
2
2
0.0
100.0
All ports
434,369
464,513
497,994
508,140
56,517
56,673
54,865
58,310
566,450
100.0
15.4

(a) Includes commodities that do not pass through an Australian port, e.g. exports of natural gas and crude petroleum from the North-West shelf and Timor Sea.
(b) Includes exports not attributed to a port due to confidentiality restrictions.


MAJOR PORTS

Port of Melbourne

In 2001-02, the Port of Melbourne handled 20% of Australia's trade by value, with exports of $18.8b and imports of $28.9b. Melbourne was Australia's biggest exporting port by value in each of the past four years and ranked second for imports. By weight, it was less significant, ranked 11th in 1998-99 rising to 6th in 2001-02. This was driven by a 73% increase in exports, which was partially offset by a 9% fall in imports.

The major exports from the Port of Melbourne were agricultural commodities, particularly dairy products, wool, beef, lamb and wheat. Over 80% of Australia's exports of dairy products were shipped from Melbourne ($2.8b in 2001-02), destined mainly for South-East Asia and Japan. Exports of passenger motor vehicles and parts were worth $2.1b, double the value of four years ago. There were 72,000 cars ($1.5b) shipped overseas in 2001-02, mostly to the Middle East and New Zealand.


Graph - Exports - value
Graph - Exports - gross weight


In 2001-02, one fifth of imports to the Port of Melbourne were road vehicles and parts ($5.1b), up from $4.3b in 1998-99. Passenger motor vehicles (144,000 cars valued at $2.8b) and motor vehicle parts ($1.4b) were the largest components in 2001-02, sourced largely from Japan, Germany and USA.

By weight, crude petroleum was the largest import in 2001-02, amounting to 1.2m tonnes (or 1.4b litres) valued at $401m. This was followed by paper and paperboard products at 457,000 tonnes, valued at $742m. Both commodities had lower volumes of imports in 2001-02 than 1998-99, with paper and paperboard products down 11% and crude petroleum down 56%.


Graph - Imports - value
Graph - Imports - gross weight


Port of Sydney

By value, the Port of Sydney was the second largest Australian port, accounting for $38.2b (16%) of Australia's total trade in 2001-02. It ranked second by value of exports and first by value of imports. By weight, it ranked 8th, with over 14m tonnes shipped, of which 10m tonnes were imports and 4m tonnes were exports.

The most important exports by value were aluminium, wool, beef, and cotton. In 2001-02, they accounted for 29% ($2.4b) of exports from this port. Aluminium, cotton and refined petroleum were the largest exports by weight.

Strong growth was recorded in exports of wine in the period studied. The value and volume of exports of alcoholic beverages, mainly wine, more than doubled from 1998-99 to reach $357m and 58m litres in 2001-02.


Graph - Exports - value
Graph - Exports - gross weight


The value of imports to the Port of Sydney increased by 21% over the past three years, reaching $30.1b in 2001-02, or 25% of Australia's total merchandise imports.

Passenger motor vehicles were the largest import by value, worth $3.1b in 2001-02, an increase of 37% since 1998-99. 150,000 vehicles were imported through the port in 2001-02, up from 133,600 in 1998-99. Computers and parts were the next largest import ($1.7b in 2001-02), followed by crude petroleum ($1.2b), which has risen by 150% invalue since 1998-99.

Crude petroleum (3.6m tonnes or 4.3b litres) and refined petroleum (987,000 tonnes or 1.1b litres) were the largest imports by weight. Together these accounted for 45% of imports by weight in 2001-02. Paper and paperboard products were the next largest import at 520,000 tonnes in 2001-02.


Graph - Imports - value
Graph - Imports - gross weight


Port of Brisbane

By value, Brisbane has been the third largest seaport in Australia for each of the past four years for both exports and imports. Its total trade in 2001-02 was $18.3b, comprising $7.8b of exports and $10.5b of imports. This represented a 42% increase since 1998-99. Over the same period total trade by weight increased 16% to 18.6m tonnes.

Food products contributed almost half the value of exports from the Port of Brisbane over this period. In 2001-02, these were valued at $3.6b. Beef was the major export, accounting for $2.2b (28%) of exports. The next largest were cotton, at $752m (10%), and lamb, at $309m (4%).

By weight, coal was the largest export by a substantial margin, accounting for 3.1m tonnes (30%) of exports in 2001-02. The volume of coal exports was 35% higher than the previous year, after being relatively stable over the three previous years. Refined petroleum, at 682,000 tonnes or 766m litres, and wheat, at 622,000 tonnes, were the next largest exports.


Graph - Exports - value
Graph - Exports - gross weight


In 2001-02, imports to the Port of Brisbane accounted for $10.5b (9%) of the value of Australia's imports, up from $7.6b in 1998-99. The gross weight of imports peaked at 9.1m tonnes in 1999-00, dropping to 8.4m tonnes in 2001-02. This was 14% of Australia's total imports by weight.

Crude petroleum was one of the two largest imports by value in each of the past four years ($1.7b in 2001-02) and the largest import by weight (5.2m tonnes or 6.4b litres in 2001-02). It accounted for 62% of the gross weight and 16% of the value of imports in 2001-02. Passenger and goods motor vehicles were the other large contributors, together valued at $2.6b (25% of total) in 2001-02, up from $2.0b in 1998-99. Three quarters of these imports were cars.


Graph - Imports - value
Graph - Imports - gross weight


Mascot Airport

Mascot Airport was the largest airport, and the third largest port overall, by value, during each of the years included in this analysis. In 2001-02, $8.1b (7%) of exports and $20.8b (17%) of imports were transported through Mascot Airport. It accounted for 50% or more of all trade by air over the past four years.

The major exports by value were machinery and transport equipment, which accounted for $3.0b (37%) of exports from Mascot Airport in 2001-02. The most important contributor to this category was computers and parts ($1.2b). Almost 80% of these were re-exports i.e. goods imported and then exported in the same condition or after undergoing minor alterations. Medicinal and pharmaceutical products totalled $1.3b, of which $308m were re-exports.

The major imports by value in 2001-02 were computers and parts ($4.3b), medicinal and pharmaceutical products ($3.1b) and telecommunications equipment ($2.7b).


Graph - Exports - value
Graph - Imports - value


Other Ports

Major imports to the seaports of other Australian capital cities tend to be similar to those examined for the seaports in the previous section i.e. motor vehicles, for both passengers and goods; crude petroleum; and other manufactured goods. Most of the regional seaports have relatively minor imports in comparison to their exports, unless they have, for example, an oil refinery or major manufacturing plant nearby.

New South Wales

Newcastle, Port Botany and Port Kembla were the major NSW seaports apart from the Port of Sydney. In 2001-02, exports from Newcastle were valued at $5.7b, of which 66% ($3.8b) was coal. By weight of exports, Newcastle was Australia's largest port, accounting for 14% of Australia's total exports. Coal and wheat were the major exports from Port Kembla, while from Port Botany they were aluminium and wool.

Victoria

Apart from the Port of Melbourne, Geelong was Victoria's other major seaport, accounting for around 5% of Victorian exports by value in 2001-02. Major exports shipped were refined petroleum and wheat, valued at around $400m each.

Melbourne Airport was Australia's second largest airport, and fifth largest port, by value, in each of the past four years. A wide range of goods were exported and imported. Non-monetary gold was the major export, peaking at $2.3b in 1998-99 and worth $1.5b in 2001-02. Over one-third related to gold that was imported for processing and then re-exported.

Queensland

With significant exports of minerals and agricultural goods, Queensland has several major exporting ports apart from the Port of Brisbane. In 2001-02, Hay Point ($5.3b), Gladstone ($4.2b) and Townsville ($2.9b) together accounted for 52% of Queensland exports. By weight, Hay Point (69m tonnes) and Gladstone (40m tonnes) were Queensland's largest ports, the major commodity shipped from each was coal.

Western Australia

In 2001-02, Fremantle ($4.5b), Kwinana ($2.8b), Port Hedland ($2.5b) and Bunbury ($2.5b) were Western Australia's major seaports. A range of commodities including wheat, nickel, pigments and paints, and live sheep, were the major exports from Fremantle. Wheat and nickel were some of the major exports from Kwinana, whilst Port Hedland ($2.1b) and Dampier ($2.3b) had substantial exports of iron ore.

Perth Airport was Australia's third largest airport by value, with exports exceeding $5b in each of the past four years. Non-monetary gold accounted for $4.0b (69%) of exports in 1998-99 and around half of exports in each of the three subsequent years.

South Australia

Port Adelaide was the major South Australian port with $6.6b of trade in 2001-02. The value of exports increased markedly in the past three years (up 90% by value and 52% by weight), due partly to increased exports of motor vehicles and wine. Exports of passenger motor vehicles were worth $1.4b in 2001-02, up from $565m in 1998-99. Exports of alcoholic beverages, mainly wine, more than doubled in the same period from $404m to $873m. The most significant imports to Port Adelaide were passenger and goods motor vehicles, together valued at $323m in 2001-02.

Tasmania

Launceston and Hobart are Tasmania's major ports, together accounting for $1.5b of exports in 2001-02. The largest commodities exported by value were zinc from Hobart ($347m) and aluminium ($362m) from Launceston. Some of Tasmania's major exports are subject to confidentiality restrictions. It should be noted that some goods originating from Tasmania are exported from the Port of Melbourne.

TABLE F3: LEGEND
TERM USED
SITC
TERM USED
SITC

Live sheep
part of 001
Paper & paperboard
64
Food products
0 excl. 001
Nickel
683
    Beef
011
Aluminium
684
    Lamb
012
Zinc
686
    Dairy products
02 excl. 025
Machinery & transport equipment
7
    Wheat
041
    Specialised machinery
72
Alcoholic beverages
112
    Computers & parts
752,759
Cotton
263
    Telecommunications equipment
764
Wool
268
    Road vehicles & parts
78
Iron ore
281
      Passenger motor vehicles
781
Coal
321
      Goods motor vehicles
782
Crude petroleum
333
      Motor vehicle parts
784
Refined petroleum
334
    Aircraft & parts
792
Pigments & paint
533
Professional & scientific equipment
87
Medicinal & pharmaceutical products
54
Non-monetary gold
971


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