5368.0.55.006 - Characteristics of Australian Exporters, 2017-18 Quality Declaration 
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Main features

This publication provides an analysis of the number and characteristics of Australia's merchandise exporters.

Key statistics

In 2017-18, the total value of Australian merchandise exports reached a record of high of $314 billion, $24 billion (8%) higher than in 2016-17.

The number of exporters increased more moderately (2%) to 53,015. This continues the upward trend seen in the number of exporters from 2013-14 onwards.

Most exporters are small businesses (59%) and contribute only 1% of the exports value. 90% of exporters had combined transactions valued at less than $1 million and 74% had 10 or less export transactions for the year.

In contrast, on a value basis the Australian export sector is dominated by a small number of businesses. 296 businesses exported merchandise worth $100m or more and together they accounted for 85% of the total export value ($266 billion). While just 1% of exporters are from the Mining Industry and they contribute over half (57%) of the total export value.


Business size

The majority of Australian merchandise exporters are small businesses (59%), and contribute only 1% of the total export value. While only 13% of merchandise exporters are large businesses, they accounted for 96% of the value.

Table 1 Number of merchandise exporters and value of exports, by size of business

No. of Merchandise Exporters

Value of Merchandise Exports

Business Size (a)
No.
%
Value ($m)
%

Large
6 763
13
300 990
96
Medium
15 075
28
10 771
3
Small
31 177
59
2 718
1
Total
53 015
100
314 478
100

(a) Refer to Business size criteria in the Explanatory Notes of the publication.


Industry of exporter

While the Mining industry made up only 1% of the number of exporters, they continue to account for over half (57%) of the exports value. The second most dominant industry was Manufacturing, contributing 24% of the exports value.

The Mining industry also accounted for most ($19b) of the increase in value of exports from 2016-17, up $24b overall. This increase was influenced by continued demand for Australia’s bulk commodities, such as coal and iron ore, and the expansion of multiple liquefied natural gas projects.

Despite the increase in value, the number of Mining exporters remained steady. This led to the average exports value per Mining exporter increasing from $346m to $387m.

By count, Wholesale trade was the largest industry making up 26% (13,858) of all merchandise exporters.

Table 2 Industry of exporter, by value and number of merchandise exporters

No. of Merchandise Exporters

Value of Merchandise Exports

Industry of Exporter
No.
%
Value ($m)
%

Agriculture, forestry and fishing
1 015
2
3 887
1
Mining
465
1
180 046
57
Manufacturing
9 182
17
75 447
24
Construction
1 622
3
606
0
Wholesale Trade
13 858
26
40 608
13
Retail Trade
4 786
9
2 771
1
Transport, postal and warehousing
1 429
3
3 061
1
Other
9 878
19
5 902
2
Unavailable
10 780
20
2 151
1
Total
53 015
100
314 478
100



Transactions and value ranges

The Australian merchandise export sector continues to be dominated by a small number of businesses.

296 businesses exported merchandise worth $100m or more and together they accounted for 85% of the total export value ($266b).

91% of the total export value was attributed to businesses who undertook 51 or more export transactions in the 2017-18 year. However, these businesses accounted for just 10% of all exporters.

Table 3 Number of export transactions, by number of merchandise exporters and value of exports

No. of Merchandise Exporters

Value of Merchandise Exports

Number of Export Transactions
No.
%
Value ($m)
%

Fewer than 3
25 924
49
968
0
3 to 10
13 399
25
4 914
2
11 to 20
4 195
8
7 057
2
21 to 50
3 980
8
13 940
4
51 or more
5 517
10
287 600
91
Total
53 015
100
314 478
100



State of origin of commodity

In line with the overall increase in value in 2017-18, exports of merchandise from all States of origin increased from the previous year. Of the total value increase, $17b (72%) originated from exports of commodities from Western Australia and Queensland, the states with the largest Mining export values.

Western Australia and Queensland also continued to be the most dominant States of origin for exported merchandise overall, when combined accounting for 65% of the total value.

Table 4 Value of merchandise exports, by state of origin of commodity

Value of Merchandise Exports

State of Origin of Commodity
Value ($m)
%

NSW
47 597
15
Vic.
26 823
9
Qld
74 262
24
SA
12 044
4
WA
129 698
41
Tas.
3 675
1
NT
5 721
2
Total (a)
314 478
100

(a) 'Total' includes ACT and re-exports. Exports data with confidentiality restrictions 'No Commodity details' or 'No value details' are excluded from individual state totals and included in 'Total'.


Main state of business location

In 2017-18, the most common main state of exporter location was New South Wales (14,754 exporters), followed by Victoria (13,274). Together, over half (53%) of Australian merchandise exporters are located in New South Wales and Victoria.

For most industries, New South Wales is the state where the highest number of merchandise exporters are located. The Mining industry is an exception, with Mining exporters most commonly located in Western Australia (42%) and Queensland (22%).


Country of final destination

In 2017-18, China continued to be Australia's largest export destination, with $106 billion worth of exports (34%). This was $11 billion more than in 2016-17 (up 11%).

By merchandise exporter count, New Zealand was the most dominant contributor, with 35% (18,774) of all exporters, exporting at least once to New Zealand in 2017-18.

Overall, the average export value per exporter was $5.9m. However the average differed considerably across destination countries. The countries with the largest average export value per exporter were Japan ($13.7m) and China ($13.6m).