Latest release

International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia

Contains preliminary estimates of international merchandise trade, includes breakdowns of imports, exports, source and destination countries

Reference period
February 2021
Released
24/03/2021
Future releases
  • Next Release 28/04/2021
    International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia, Mar 21
  • Next Release 25/05/2021
    International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia, Apr 21
  • Next Release 23/06/2021
    International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia, May 2021
  • View all releases

Key statistics

•    Exports of goods in February 2021 increased $502m (2%) to $32,113m
•    Imports of goods in February 2021 increased $577m (2%) to $24,013m
•    For February 2021 there is a goods trade surplus of $8,100m (original, current price, merchandise trade basis)

This publication presents preliminary data on Australia's international trade in goods on an original, current price, merchandise trade basis. These data are subject to revision as more complete and accurate information becomes available. See Methodology for more details.

Exports

International trade in goods - exports summary (a)
 Dec 2019Jan 2020Feb 2020Dec 2020Jan 2021Feb 2021Jan - Feb 2021Feb 20 - Feb 21
$m$m$m$m$m$m$m%$m%
Total goods34,06728,42327,52034,96031,61232,11350224,59317
Rural goods4,3453,6273,7564,3443,6354,1775421542111
Non-Rural (b)27,55523,36522,66527,81825,32025,108-212-12,44311
Non-monetary gold (c )2,1671,4321,1002,7982,6572,82817161,729157

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
a. Caution should be used when interpreting preliminary estimates as they may be different to the final published estimates, and are subject to revision.
b. For all time periods, confidentialised export items are included in Non-rural goods, whether or not this reflects their true nature.
c. Includes Gold coin.

Exports key movements

Exports of goods in February 2021 increased from the revised January 2021 estimate of $31,612m by $502m (2%) to $32,113m.

In February 2021:

•    non-ferrous metals increased $298m (38%)
•    meat increased $291m (39%)
•    petroleum increased $184m (28%)
•    coal increased $163m (5%)
•    cereals increased $159m (14%)
•    textile fibres increased $158m (112%)

Meat exports seasonally decline in January and rebound in February due to planned abattoir maintenance closures. This year’s rebound was stronger than last years and was driven by beef and lamb.

Crude oil, making up 72% of petroleum exports in February 2021, drove the increase in petroleum. 

Hard coking coal drove the coal increase and was price driven. A 25% price increase helped offset a 12% decline in quantity exported. There were also small increases (less than 6%) in exports of thermal and semi-soft coal.

February was the highest monthly cereals export on record at $1,288m, or 4% of total exports. The driver was wheat and meslin, which also reached a monthly high, aligning with reports of Australia’s second largest wheat crop on record. Australia’s two largest markets for wheat, Indonesia and Vietnam, took 15% and 13% of wheat and meslin exports, with Vietnam receiving its largest export from Australia on record ($116m).

Wool, not carded or combed, drove the increase in textile fibres with 87% of February’s wool exports going to Australia’s long-term, principal wool market, China. For comparison, the next largest market was Italy, taking just 3%.
Chinese quotas on Australian wool imports increase annually in January by 5% as per the ChAFTA (China Australia Free Trade Agreement).

Offsetting the increase:

•    metalliferous ores declined $833m (-6%)
•    gas declined $200m (-7%)

February 2021 on February 2020

February 2021 (month) exports are $4,593m (17%) higher than February 2020 (month), driven by: 

•    metalliferous ores, up $5,044m (60%)
•    non-monetary gold (excluding gold coin), up $1,519m (146%)
•    cereals, up $779m (153%)

Partially offsetting the increases were gas, down $1,229m (-31%), coal, down $761m (-19%) and meat, down $390m (-27%). 

Download

Top five export destinations

Key country movements:

•    China declined $990m (-8%)   
•    Japan declined $162m (-4%) 
•    Singapore increased $752m (67%)
•    South Korea increased $594m (30%)
•    India increased $390m (33%)

Exports to Japan declined across a number of categories, partially offsetting the decline was a 32% increase in metalliferous ores and a 264% increase in non-ferrous metals led by unwrought aluminium. 

Non-monetary gold drove the increase to Singapore, up $522m. February’s value alone ($766m) is more than half the value of all gold exported to Singapore in 2020 and the second largest monthly gold export to Singapore on record. Non-monetary gold also drove the increase to India with exports worth $596m.

South Korea’s increase was driven by various categories, most notably coal, up $191m (52%).

Exports to China

Driving the decline to Australia’s largest trading partner, China: 
•    metalliferous ores, down $1,246m (-12%)
•    cereals, down $44m (-69%)
•    transport equipment, down $43m (-97%)

The decline in metalliferous ores to China was driven by iron ore, down $1,122m (-12%) to $8,531m, but still accounted for 75% of all Australian iron ore exports in February. The decline in iron ore was primarily driven by quantity, down 5.2m tonnes (-10%). 

The decline in cereals to China was driven by wheat and meslin in bulk, down $41m (-100%). 

Download

Imports

International trade in goods - imports summary (a)
 Dec 2019Jan 2020Feb 2020Dec 2020Jan 2021Feb 2021Jan - Feb 21Feb 20 - Feb 21
$m$m$m$m$m$m$m%$m%
Total goods26,00825,11021,42425,99923,43724,01357722,58912
Capital goods (b)7,1365,7084,9987,0325,8845,93450193619
Consumption goods7,8648,0586,9889,3818,0758,43836341,45021
Intermediate & other goods10,63010,7418,8889,0069,0339,19015723023
Non-monetary gold37860355158044545261-99-18

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
a. Caution should be used when interpreting preliminary estimates as they may be different to the final published estimates, and are subject to revision.
b. For all time periods, confidentialised import items are included in Capital goods, whether or not this reflects their true nature  

Imports key movements

Imports of goods in February 2021 increased from the revised January 2021 estimate of $23,437m by $577m (2%) to $24,013m.

In February 2021:
•    road vehicles increased $705m (24%)
•    transport equipment increased $164m (57%)
•    articles of apparel increased $131m (16%)
•    fertilisers increased $117m (88%)

Road vehicle imports rebounded to their fifth highest value on record following the first monthly decline in January since May 2020. The increase was driven predominantly by internal combustion vehicles across three main categories, new passenger vehicles, off-road vehicles for transporting goods and diesel vehicles.

Powering road vehicles further were electric vehicles, up $104m (485%) to $125m and hybrid vehicles, up $95m (101%) to $190m. This is the highest month on record for electric vehicle imports (4 times that of February 2020) and the third highest for hybrids. These increases align with media reports of a shift in demand for electric vehicles in early 2021 as a greater range is made available in Australia. 

The increase in transport equipment is driven by aeroplanes and other aircraft, up $264m due to the import of a number of aircraft from the USA.

A seasonal increase in imports of clothing drove the increase in articles of apparel. Seasonal increases in various fertilisers, led by urea, up $51m (287%), drove the increase in fertilisers. 

Offsetting the increase:

•    telecommunications and sound equipment declined $414m (-27%)
•    medicinal and pharmaceutical products declined $120m (-11%)

The decrease in telecommunications and sound equipment was driven by mobile phones, down $248m (-41%), and replicates a seasonal pattern characterised by noticeable February declines after strong imports beginning around November and continuing through to January.

The decrease in medicinal and pharmaceutical products was driven by immunological products, down $76m (-40%).

February 2021 on February 2020

February 2021 (month) imports are $2,589m (12%) higher than February 2020 (month), driven by:

•    road vehicles, up $570m (19%)
•    electrical machinery, up $369m (35%)
 

Download

Top five source countries

Key country movements:

•    Thailand increased $241m (26%)
•    Japan increased $226m (17%)
•    the USA increased $178m (8%)
•    Germany increased $70m (6%) 
•    China increased $69m (1%)

China’s increase is driven by road vehicles, up $145m (48%), in turn, boosted by the largest import of electric vehicles from any country ($107m), up $101m. Articles of apparel, also increased, up $133m (26%), across a wide range of clothing categories, predominantly winter clothes. Offsetting these increases, telecommunications and sound equipment declined $190m (-22%), largely made up of mobile phones.

Japan’s increase was driven by road vehicles, up $300m (39%), specifically diesel vehicles and hybrid vehicles.

The USA’s increase is driven by transport equipment, up $276m (578%). Specifically, aeroplanes and other aircraft, up $265m. 

Germany’s increase was spread across a number of categories, led by power generating machinery, up $16m (91%), and road vehicles also up $16m (6%). 

Imports from Thailand rebounded, replacing Malaysia in the top five export countries. The rebound was driven by road vehicles, up $177m (43%) following a dip in imports in January.

Download

Changes in this issue

From the January 2021 reference month onwards, the membership of the European Union country grouping has been amended to reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

The European Union 27 time series now represents the current membership across the entire time series; rather than reflecting the membership of any particular reference period.

For example, the United Kingdom does not contribute to any reference period of the European Union 27 time series presented in this publication (as the United Kingdom is not a current member of the Union). Furthermore, Croatia (as a current member) is represented in all reference periods of the European Union 27 time series (despite joining the Union in 2013).

The value of merchandise trade is computed as a sum of the current member countries. Therefore, users who wish to compute the European Union value with a different membership can simply add the component countries together.

Inquiries

Inquiries about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

Data downloads

Table 1. Preliminary merchandise exports, standard international trade classification (1 and 2 digit), FOB value

Table 2. Preliminary merchandise imports, standard international trade classification (1 and 2 digit), customs value

Table 3. Preliminary merchandise exports, country and country groups, FOB value

Table 4. Preliminary merchandise imports, country and country groups, customs value

Table 5. Preliminary merchandise exports, state and Australia, FOB value

Table 6. Preliminary merchandise imports, state and Australia, customs value

All time series

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.55.024