Australia records current account surplus of $12.3b

Media Release

Australia’s current account surplus increased by $581 million to $12.3 billion (seasonally adjusted, current prices) in the March quarter 2023, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Grace Kim, ABS head of International Statistics, said: “The increase in the current account surplus reflects a higher trade surplus partly offset by a rise in the net primary income deficit.”

The trade surplus grew by $2.0 billion to reach $41.1 billion and the net primary income deficit rose by $1.6 billion to $28.5 billion, both reaching the second highest levels on record. Australia’s terms of trade rose 2.8 per cent, as import prices fell more than export prices.

“Imports of goods and services fell 0.9 per cent as import prices recorded the largest fall since December 2010.” Ms Kim added.

Imports of Fuels and lubricants led the decrease, as prices continued to decline with strong global supply and lower demand. Imports of Freight transport services fell as prices continued to stabilise from record high levels seen through 2022. The appreciation of the Australian dollar also contributed to the fall across a range of import categories.

“Exports of goods and services increased 0.4 per cent, driven by strong rises in Metal ores and minerals and Travel services,” Ms Kim said.

“This rise in Metal ores and minerals was driven by higher exports of iron ore and lithium – the latter hitting a record high of $6.2 billion this quarter.”

Exports of Travel services recorded the highest quarterly increase on record as more international students came to Australia for on-campus learning. The number of international students in Australia has now reached 94 per cent of pre COVID-19 levels. Personal travel also contributed to the rise in Travel services, as travellers continued returning to Australia for tourism and to visit family and friends.

(a) seasonally adjusted estimates in current price terms.

The primary income deficit remained at historically high levels, widening to $28.5 billion. This was driven by income credits, which decreased to $21.5 billion, coming off a record high in the December quarter 2022.

Primary income debits remain elevated but fell slightly in the quarter, driven by profits on direct investment. The quarterly fall can be attributed to weaker commodity prices across selected export commodities.

(a) seasonally adjusted estimates in current price terms.

The financial account recorded a deficit of $5.6 billion, driven by a net outflow of debt ($5.3 billion), and a net outflow of equity ($0.3 billion).

The $1.2 billion fall in the trade surplus (seasonally adjusted, chain volume measure) is expected to detract 0.2 percentage points from the March quarter 2023 GDP quarterly movement.

Australia's net international investment liability position was $862.3 billion this quarter, a decrease of $18.8 billion. The fall in Australia's foreign liabilities outpaced the fall in foreign assets.

Australia's net foreign equity asset position increased $45.5 billion to $332.4 billion. Australia's net foreign debt liability position increased $26.7 billion to $1,194.8 billion.

Media notes

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
Back to top of the page