Exports and imports fall in August

Media Release

Media notes

The preliminary trade data shows that imports of goods fell by $1,785 million or 7 per cent to $24,026 million and exports of goods fell by $616 million or 2 per cent to $28,319 million in August 2020, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ preliminary International Merchandise Trade release today.


Mr Branko Vitas, Program Manager for the ABS’ International Statistics Branch said the primary driver for the decline in exports of goods was a $2.3 billion or 64 per cent decline in exports of non-monetary gold (excluding gold coin), due to large declines to the United Kingdom and the United States of America.


Adding to the overall monthly fall in exports were: gas, textile fibres, and power generating machinery. Partially offsetting these declines were increases in exports of metalliferous ores, petroleum and non-ferrous metals.


Mr Vitas said: “Exports of metalliferous ores have been consistently strong in recent months with an average export value of $11.7 billion per month since March 2020.”


“The strength of metalliferous ores continued in August 2020 with a $996 million (9 per cent) increase on July 2020, and a $646 million or 6 per cent increase on August 2019.”


Despite the continued strength of metalliferous ores, the total value of exports of goods is still subdued. Year-on-year, the total value of exports of goods declined by $5.5 billion or 16 per cent.


The value of goods imported in August 2020 also declined, decreasing by $1.8 billion or 7 per cent driven by declines in imports of a range of commodities including transport equipment, office and ADP machines, and electrical machinery.


Imports of road vehicles continues to show signs of recovery, increasing $339 million or 14 per cent in August 2020, following increases in both June and July.


This publication forms part of the suite of products made available by the ABS to help the community and governments understand the impact of, and economic responses to the coronavirus, COVID-19.


The ABS would like to thank all those who contributed to this data.

 Media note:

  • The estimates in this publication are on an original, current price (merchandise trade) basis only, not a Balance of Payments (BoP) basis. This means that the data is on a customs basis, whereas BoP data are derived from the customs data by applying adjustments for factors such as valuation, coverage, timing and residence. The official monthly estimate for August will be published on 6 October 2020 in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat no. 5368.0). Future preliminary international merchandise trade estimates, will be published approximately two weeks prior to the advertised release date of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat no. 5368.0).
  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS media team on 1300 175 070 or media@abs.gov.au (8.30am - 5pm Monday - Friday AEDT). Subscribe to our email notification service and get media releases or products sent to you on release.
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