Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
4156.0.55.001 - Perspectives on Sport, Jan 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/01/2011   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

AUSTRALIA OUTPLAYED IN SPORTING GOODS TRADE ARENA


INTRODUCTION

Trading tables

Do you remember sitting around the kitchen table as a child? Mum is about to serve dinner while the rest of the family waits patiently. As the dinner plates are placed on the table, you're shocked to see some small green vegetables on your plate; the dreaded brussels sprout. One bite later and you know you're not going to be able to eat them all, they're so horrible, but the threat from Mum that 'unless everything on your plate is finished, there's no chocolate pudding and ice cream for dessert' is fresh in your mind. In sheer desperation, you begin to trade the food on your plate with the food on the plates of your brothers and sisters. After some tense negotiations, half of your brussels sprouts are exported to your brother's plate, while his pumpkin and cauliflower are imported onto yours. The other half of your brussels sprouts are exported to your sister's plate in exchange for her leftover steak.

This simple scenario illustrates the value of being able to trade with others, particularly where there may be a demand for certain goods that cannot otherwise be met. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) collects international trade statistics for Australia, which are compiled from information supplied to customs by exporters and importers or their agents. These figures give us some idea about our nation's demand for certain goods, and also what it is that we have to offer the rest of the world.

As a proud sporting nation, and with around two thirds (64%) of Australians (aged 15 years and over) participating in sport and physical recreation in 2009-10 (Endnote 1) it is no wonder that in 2008-09, the total value of sports and physical recreation goods imported into Australia was $2.1 billion. This far outweighed the total value of sports and recreation goods that were exported ($463.1 million). While the value of sports and physical recreation goods imported into Australia is only a small portion of the total value of all imported goods, they are often items that are used everyday such as gymnasium or athletics articles and equipment, bicycles and sporting and/or physical recreation footwear. Some of the higher-end items such as boats, yachts, spark-ignition marine outboard motors and horses are perhaps less in demand, but are still symbolic of Australia's love of the great outdoors.

This article uses information about the value of imports and exports of sports and physical recreation goods obtained from FASTTRACCS, an ABS product which provides electronic delivery of international trade statistics sourced from customs records. More information about international trade data can be found in the Explanatory Notes of the ABS publication International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, Aug 2010 (cat. no. 5368.0) .


IMPORTS

Can you guess where your running shoes came from?

The last time you put on your running shoes to go for a jog, did you take the time to notice where they were made? It's not surprising to find out there's a strong possibility that they were made in China. In 2008-09, the value of sports and physical recreation goods imported into Australia from China was $791.9m. This was just over one-third (39%) of the total value of all imported sports and physical recreation goods ($2,055.5m). There is no doubt that Australia has contributed to China's economy over the years with the value of sports and physical recreation goods imported from China increasing by 77% between 2002-03 ($447.6m) and 2008-09 ($791.9m).

Imports of selected sports and physical recreation goods, By country of origin - 2002-03 and 2008-09
Graph: Imports of selected sports and physical recreation goods, By country of origin—2002–03 and 2008–09


The United States of America (USA) is famous for 'exporting' space shuttles into outer space, however, they also do a great job of launching sports and physical recreation goods into Australia. In 2008-09 the value of sports and physical recreation goods imported from the USA was $366.8m, making it the second most common source of Australia's imported sports and physical recreation goods. In the past few years, the value of imported goods from the USA increased by 40%, from $261.6m in 2002-03 to $366.8m in 2008-09. A breakdown of the imports from the USA shows that 43% ($156.1m) of the total value was in boats, yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports; 12% ($43.9m) was in spark-ignition marine outboard motors; 8.3% ($30.4m) in general physical exercise, gymnasium or athletics articles and equipment and 5.6% ($20.6m) in golf clubs.

Imports of selected sports and physical recreation goods, From United States of America and United Kingdom - 2008-09
Graph: Imports of selected sports and physical recreation goods, From United States of America and United Kingdom—2008–09


Australia and the United Kingdom (UK) have a long history of trade - between 1788 and 1868 the English transported over 160,000 convicts to Australia (Endnote 2). Today, Australia has stopped importing convicts, and in 2008-09, imported $92.1m worth of sports and physical recreation goods from the UK instead. Of these imports, 75% ($68.7m) were boats, yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports and 12% ($11.2m) were horses. The UK was the sixth largest source of imported sports and physical recreation goods behind Taiwan ($211.7m), Japan ($103.8m) and New Zealand ($97.0m).


Boats and yachts sail into first place

In 2002-03 boats, yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports were third on the list of high-value imports into Australia (totalling $137.5m) after spark-ignition marine outboard motors ($174.5m) and sporting and/or physical recreation footwear ($187.1m). In the following financial year, boats, yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports ($223.1m) climbed to first on the list, with the total value of imports increasing to $223.1m in 2003-04. Boats, yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports has continued to feature on top of the list in subsequent years, with the total value of imports being $447.9m in 2008-09. While not as valuable, or prestigious, as boats, yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sport, spark-ignition marine outboard motors still featured in the top five imported sports and physical recreation products in 2008-09 with a total value of $137.6m.

Top 5 imported sports and physical recreation goods - 2008-09
Graph: Top 5 imported sports and physical recreation goods—2008–09



Walk, run or ride?

Despite growing concerns about the physical activity levels and health of Australians, in 2008-09 the value of gymnasium or athletics articles and equipment imported into Australia was $247.4m and the value of imported sports or physical recreation footwear was $161.4m. This is surely an indication that we're not totally averse to a trip to the fitness centre or a run around the oval.

Cycling is also a popular pastime with just over one million (1.14m) or 6.5% of Australians (aged 15 years and over) participating in cycling in 2009-10 (Endnote 1). It is not surprising then, that the value of imported bicycles and other cycles, not motorised, into Australia in 2008-09 was $239.9m.


EXPORTS

Selling ice to the Eskimos

If you wanted to export sheep to New Zealand you should reconsider your business plan unless it was written by someone who's sold ice to the Eskimos. A better option would be to export sports and physical recreation goods to them.

Between 2002-03 to 2008-09, New Zealand has been the major destination for sports and physical recreation goods exported from Australia. In 2008-09, the value of sports and physical recreation products exported to New Zealand was $108.9m. The USA received the second highest value of sports and physical recreation goods from Australia ($63.1m).

Of all the sports and physical recreation products exported to New Zealand, 32% ($35.4m) were horses; 30% ($33.5m) were boats, yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports, and 7.2% ($7.9m) were articles and equipment for sports or outdoor games and swimming pools and paddling pools. Spark-ignition outboard motors accounted for 3.7% ($4.0m) of exports.

Exports of selected sports and physical recreation goods, To New Zealand and United States of America - 2008-09
Graph: Exports of selected sports and physical recreation goods, To New Zealand and United States of America—2008–09



You can bet on Australia's iconic horses

A breakdown of sports and physical recreation exports to the USA shows that 66% ($41.9m) were boats, yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports, and 19% ($12.9m) were horses.

Exports to New Zealand increased from $98.5m in 2007-08 to $108.9m in 2008-09 indicating that we must be doing something to keep our Kiwi friends keen on what we have to offer.


The world is our oyster

The value of exports of Australian sports and physical recreation goods to Hong Kong was the third highest in 2008-09 ($49.1m) which was an increase of 54% since 2007-08 ($31.9m). The remaining countries in the top five destinations for Australian sports and physical goods in 2008-09 were Italy ($24.2m) and Singapore ($20.1m).

Destination of selected sports and physical recreation exports - 2007-08 and 2008-09
Graph: Destination of selected sports and physical recreation exports—2007–08 and 2008–09


Although the value of exports of Australian sports and physical recreation goods to New Zealand and Hong Kong increased, exports to the USA decreased from $111.6m in 2007-08 to $63.1m in 2008-09. Decreases were also reported in the value of exports to Singapore, down by 68% from $62.6m in 2007-08 to $20.1m in 2008-09, and the value of exports to Italy, down from $29.4m in 2007-08 to $24.2m in 2008-09.


Come on Aussie, come on!

Whether Australia is importing general physical exercise, gymnasium or athletics articles and equipment from China ($158.8m); boats, yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports from the USA ($156.1m); or exporting horses to New Zealand ($35.4m), one thing for sure is that Australia is being outplayed in the sports and physical recreation goods trade arena.

With China and the USA being the giants of sports goods trade, they easily dominate negotiations, much like your big brother at the kitchen table. In 2008-09, imports of sports and physical recreation goods into Australia were valued at $2,055.5m. This was over four times the value of sports and physical recreation goods that were exported during that year ($463.1m).

While Australia may be behind in its trading however, it definitely doesn't lack sporting prowess or spirit. Come on Aussie, come on!

Back to top


ENDNOTES

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010, Participation in Sports and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2009-10, (cat. no. 4177.0), ABS, Canberra.

2. Australia in brief: Ancient history, modern society <http://www.dfat.gov.au/aib/history.html> Accessed on 27th October 2010.


Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.