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International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia

Contains preliminary monthly aggregate estimates of international merchandise trade

Reference period
May 2020
Released
23/06/2020

Key statistics

  • Exports of goods in May 2020 declined from the revised April 2020 estimate of $31,063m by $1,337m (-4%) to $29,726m.
  • Imports of goods in May 2020 declined from the revised April 2020 estimate of $24,087m by $2,184m (-9%) to $21,903m.          

Main features

This release provides preliminary estimates for Australian international merchandise trade for the month of May 2020 to help measure the economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). These estimates are compiled from administrative data (customs records) sourced from the Department of Home Affairs and are subject to revision. The final May monthly estimates will be published in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) on 2 July 2020.

Preliminary May key points and figures

Preliminary trade in goods (original, current prices)

  • The value of exports and imports of goods both continued to decline in May 2020, from the revised April 2020 figures.
  • The preliminary figures show that the value of exports declined $1.3b or 4% from the revised April 2020 value of $31,063m. Year-on-year, the May 2020 figures declined $4.3b or 13% from May 2019.
  • The value of goods imported declined $2.2b or 9% on the revised April 2020 value of $24,087m. Year-on-year, the May 2020 figure declined $4.8b or 18% from May 2019. These declines were largely due to a drop in imports of road vehicles and petroleum.
     

Preliminary international trade in goods summary (a)

 Mar 2019Apr 2019May 2019Mar 2020Apr 2020May 2020Apr to May 2020
$m$m$m$m$m$m$m%
Original current prices
EXPORTS        
 Total goods
31 254
31 142
34 039
35 494
31 063
29 726
-1 337
- 4
  Rural goods
4 448
4 043
4 210
4 439
4 145
3 811
- 334
- 8
  Non-rural goods (b)
25 413
25 433
28 142
27 481
25 023
24 502
- 521
- 2
  Non-monetary gold (c)
1 393
1 665
1 688
3 574
1 895
1 413
- 482
- 25
IMPORTS        
 Total goods
24 022
24 882
26 714
24 301
24 087
21 903
- 2 184
- 9
  Capital goods (d)
5 997
6 372
7 104
6 197
6 034
5 451
- 583
- 10
  Consumption goods
7 339
7 680
8 163
7 356
7 856
6 420
- 1 436
- 18
  Intermediate & other goods
10 236
10 421
10 969
9 684
9 568
8 774
- 794
- 8
  Non-monetary gold
 450
 410
 478
1 064
 630
1 257
627
100
- 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.
d. For all time periods, confidentialised import items are included in Capital goods, whether or not this reflects their true nature.
 

Preliminary exports (original, current prices)

  • Exports of goods in May 2020 declined from the revised April 2020 estimate of $31,063m by $1,337m (-4%) to $29,726m.
  • The 4% decline in the value of exports in May 2020 follows a much larger fall in April (-12%).
  • The decline in May 2020 was driven by exports of non-rural goods, down $521m (-2%); and non-monetary gold, down $482 (-25%).
  • Within non-rural goods, there were declines in exports of coal, down $397m (-9%); gas, down $313m (-8%); and petroleum, down $184m (-30%).
  • The decline in exports of non-monetary gold was driven by a drop in exports to the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
  • Despite the overall value of exports falling, exports of metalliferous ores increased to $11,234m, up $242m (2%). This increase was largely driven by ongoing demand for Australian iron ore and global supply disruptions caused by COVID-19, particularly in Brazil.
  • Exports to China increased $864m (7%) to $13,586m. This increase was predominantly driven by increases in exports of coal up $759m (79%) to $1,720m and metalliferous ores up $456m (6%) to $8,284m with notable declines in meat, textile fibres and petroleum.
  • Year-on-year, exports declined $4,313m (-13%) when compared to May 2019.
     
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Preliminary imports (original, current prices)

  • Imports of goods in May 2020 declined from the revised April 2020 estimate of $24,087m by $2,184m (-9%) to $21,903m.
  • This decline in the value of imports was driven by a fall in imports of consumption goods, down $1,436m (-18%); intermediate and other goods, down $794m (-8%); and capital goods, down $583m (-10%).
  • Imports of non-monetary gold partially offset the declines, up $627m (100%) on April 2020.
  • Within consumption goods, road vehicles and articles of apparel both declined. Road vehicles accounted for most of the fall within consumption goods, with declines in several vehicle types including passenger vehicles, and four-wheel drives. Articles of apparel (clothing), also declined substantially as many retailers remained closed due to COVID-19.
  • Within intermediate and other goods, there were declines observed in imports of petroleum products, rubber tyres and fertiliser.
  • Within capital goods there were declines in road vehicles and office and ADP machines, including laptop computers which declined off the back of a significant increase in April. Despite this decline, the value of imports of laptops remains relatively high by historic standards.
  • Imports from China declined by $185m (-2%) to $7,297m. The decline was driven by petroleum, down $185m (-73%) to $67m; articles of apparel (clothing), down $99m (-21%) to $373m; and telecommunications equipment including mobile phones, down $95m (-10%) to $833m.
  • Year-on-year, imports in May 2020 declined by $4,811m (-18%) on May 2019. This decline is predominantly due to declines in imports of petroleum and road vehicles.
     
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Data notes

These are preliminary estimates presented on an original, current price (merchandise (goods) trade) basis only, not a Balance of Payments (BoP) basis. This means that the data are presented on a customs basis, whereas BoP data are derived from the customs basis by applying adjustments for factors such as valuation, coverage, timing and residence, as required by the Australian System of National Accounts.

Caution should be exercised in interpreting preliminary estimates as they may be different to the final published estimates because:

  • Estimates are based on preliminary data provided by businesses and individuals, and are subject to revision as more complete and accurate information becomes available. Therefore, accuracy of these estimates may be poorer than for final estimates.
  • This data does not include adjustments that are supplementary to transaction information provided by the Department of Home Affairs for example, adjustments to account for low value imported items and other above-mentioned BoP adjustments.
     

The timeline below provides key processing timeframes and publication dates for the May 2020 international trade in goods data.

Timeline May 2020

Image: Timeline May 2020

Timeline May 2020

This timeline provides key processing timeframes and publication dates for the May 2020 international trade in goods data. The May 2020 data collection commenced at the start of May and was completed at the end of May. During mid-June, the merchandise (goods) trade statistics were compiled for May 2020.

In the third week of June (23 June 2020), preliminary international merchandise (goods) trade data was published (cat. no. 5368.0.55.024). Late June saw the balance of payments adjustments applied to the May data. 2 weeks after the preliminary international merchandise (goods) trade data were published, the May 2020 final international merchandise (goods) trade statistics published (cat. no. 5368.0) and detailed subscription data became available (2 July 2020).

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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