Record $13.3 billion merchandise trade surplus

Media Release

A record $13.3 billion merchandise trade surplus was reported in May 2021, according to preliminary trade data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Head of International Statistics, Andrew Tomadini said “Iron ore exports continued their strength in May with both values and quantity increasing in the month”. 

Iron ore, together with strong coal and meat exports, has helped boost total exports to a new record high of $39.2 billion, up $3.8 billion (11 per cent). 

Imports increased 1 per cent in May, driven by transport equipment, general industrial machinery, non-monetary gold, and electrical machinery. These increases were offset by declines in road vehicles and petroleum. 

Electrical machinery recorded a value of $1.7 billion, an increase of $151 million, the increase was driven by lithium-ion batteries, recording imports above $100 million for the first time.

Road vehicle imports declined $692 million. The decline was across a number of vehicle categories as the ongoing semi-conductor shortages continue to limit global production. Electric vehicle imports, however, were a notable exception, up $166 million.

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 May will be published on 1 July 2021 in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia. 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.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
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