Gold and road vehicles: a tale of two commodities

Media Release

Imports declined by $245 million, or 1 per cent, to $23.8 billion in September 2020 while exports increased by $756 million, or 3 per cent, to $28.9 billion, according to latest preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Head of International Statistics, Branko Vitas, said preliminary data showed a goods trade surplus of $5.1 billion in September in original prices.

“The primary driver for the increase in exports of goods was an $876 million (69 per cent) increase in exports of non-monetary gold (excluding gold coin), predominantly to the United Kingdom and France,” said Mr Vitas.

“While the United Kingdom is a global trading hub for gold and a regular export destination for Australian non-monetary gold, this is the first substantial export of non-monetary gold to France.”

Adding to the overall increase in exports were gold coin, up $113 million (108 per cent), and beverages, up $98 million (35 per cent). The increase in beverages is driven by a $103 million (150%) increase in red table wine from fresh grapes exported to China.

Partially offsetting these increases were declines in exports of petroleum, down $140 million (16 per cent) and gas, down $139 million (7 per cent).

The decline in the value of goods imported in September 2020 was driven by a range of commodities with declines in imports of non-monetary gold, down $235 million (25 per cent); textile yarn and fabrics, down $194 million (29 per cent); petroleum, down $173 million (9 per cent); and tobacco, down $101 million (89 per cent).

“Against this overall decline, we saw a rise in imports of road vehicles, which increased $247 million (9 per cent) in September month,” said Mr Vitas. “This was driven by imports from Australia’s two largest road vehicle source countries, Japan and Thailand.”

Imports of road vehicles declined by more than $1 billion from April to May 2020 and remained low in June 2020. Since then, values have been recovering steadily with the September 2020 value only $1 million less than September 2019.

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 notes

  • 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 September will be published on 5 November 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 via or (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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