Trade falls in January but surplus maintained

Media Release

Media Release

Australia recorded a goods trade surplus of $8.8 billion for the beginning of 2021, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). January import of goods fell 10 per cent, while export of goods fell 9 per cent. 

Exports declined $3 billion (-9 per cent) driven by a decline of $1.5 billion (-10 per cent) in metalliferous ores.

Head of International Statistics at the ABS, Andrew Tomadini said “The decline in metalliferous ores was driven by a decline in the quantity of iron ore exported in January. Despite the decline, exports of Metalliferous ores are the second highest on record behind December 2020.”

Exports of meat (down 39 per cent) and coal (down 8 per cent) also drove the decline in January.

Imports declined $2.6 billion (-10 per cent), driven by a decline of $845 million (-23 per cent) in road vehicles. 

“A drop in global car manufacturing is leading to supply shortages, with the imports of road vehicles from Japan and Thailand, Australia’s two largest road vehicle source countries, driving the decline in January imports” Mr Tomadini said.

Declines were also recorded in general industrial machinery, down $234 million (-16 per cent) and miscellaneous manufactured articles, down $196 million (-13 per cent).

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 January will be published on 4 March 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.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
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