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International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia

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

Reference period
May 2021
Released
23/06/2021

Key statistics

•    Exports of goods in May 2021 increased $3,794m (11%) to $39,208m
•    Imports of goods in May 2021 increased $146m (1%) to $25,892m
•    For May 2021 there is a goods trade surplus of $13,316m (original, current price, merchandise trade basis)

This publication will be discontinued with the final release (June 2021 reference month) published on 22 July 2021. For more information, see media release Changes to ABS statistical work program.

International merchandise trade data will continue to be available monthly in publication International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia

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)
 Mar 2020Apr 2020May 2020Mar 2021Apr 2021May 2021Apr - May 21May 20 - May 21
$m$m$m$m$m$m$m%$m%
Total goods35,54331,03329,16035,94535,41439,2083,7941110,04834
Rural goods4,4484,0063,7074,8284,4855,043558121,33636
Non-Rural (b)27,52225,13224,04028,99629,15332,3473,194118,30735
Non-monetary gold (c )3,5731,8951,4132,1201,7761,81842240529

- 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 May 2021 increased from the revised April 2021 estimate of $35,414m by $3,794m (11%) to $39,208m.

In May 2021:

•    metalliferous ores increased $2,513m (15%)
•    coal increased $342m (10%)
•    meat increased $198m (18%)
•    non-ferrous metals increased $192m (19%)

Metalliferous ores increased to a record high for the third consecutive month in a row, increasing a further 15% to $19,036m. Iron ore was the main driver of the increase, up $2,506m (18%). The price of iron ore continues to climb, with unit value increasing 9%, while quantity also increased 9% in May.

The increase in coal was driven by both hard coking and thermal coal. Coal exports to South Korea increased $120m (28%), and to Taiwan by $93m (35%).

The increase in meat was led by increases across numerous categories primarily in beef and lamb.

The increase in non-ferrous metals was driven by unwrought copper and lead, up $142m and $92m respectively. The increase in lead was driven largely by exports to the United Kingdom, where unwrought lead increased $62m.

Offsetting the increases:

•    gas declined $276m (-9%)
•    medicinal and pharmaceutical products declined $86m (-23%)


COVID-19 Aid

Evidence of Australia’s humanitarian aid response to COVID-19 were also observed in May:

•    Textile yarn and fabrics (including face masks) to India, increased
•    Professional and scientific equipment (including ventilators) to India increased
•    Medicinal and pharmaceutical products (including COVID-19 vaccines) to Fiji and Timor Leste both increased

May 2021 on May 2020

May 2021 exports are $10,048m (34%) higher than May 2020, driven by: 

•    metalliferous ores, up $7,353m (63%)
•    cereals, up $887m (180%)
•    petroleum, up $574m (129%)

Partially offsetting the increase was gas, down $805m (-23%). Exports of gas declined in the second and third quarters of 2020 but have stabilised through the first half of 2021 to remain at a lower level than in early 2020.

Top five export destinations

Key country movements:

•    China increased $2,271m (16%)   
•    Singapore increased $133m (9%)
•    Hong Kong increased $622m (69%)
•    Japan declined $160m (-4%)
•    South Korea declined $280m (-11%)

Exports to Singapore increased, driven by metalliferous ores up $175m (47%), and petroleum, up $77m (28%). Partially offsetting these increases was non-monetary gold, down $114m (-44%).

The increase to Hong Kong was led by non-monetary gold, up $452m (310%), and metalliferous ores, up $155m (30%). These increases moved Hong Kong into the top five export destinations at the expense of India, where exports declined driven by metalliferous ores and non-monetary gold.

Declines were observed across several categories to Japan, most notably in cereals, down $47m (-51%) and coal, down $36m (-3%).

The decline to South Korea was driven by metalliferous ores, down $170m (-13%) from the record high in April, and non-monetary gold, down $96m (-53%).

Exports to China

Driving the increase to Australia’s largest trading partner, China: 
•    metalliferous ores, up $2,130m (20%)
•    meat, up $57m (28%)

The increase in metalliferous ores to China was once again driven by iron ore, up $2,087m (20%) to $12,666m. This is the third consecutive record export month for both iron ore and subsequently metalliferous ores.

The increase in meat was driven by several categories, primarily frozen beef, and lamb cuts.

Partially offsetting the increase was non-monetary gold exports declining $43m (-9%) to $457m. This is the third consecutive month of non-monetary gold exports to China following no exports since December 2019.

Imports

International trade in goods - imports summary (a)
 Mar 2020Apr 2020May 2020Mar 2021Apr 2021May 2021Apr - May 21May 20 - May 21
$m$m$m$m$m$m$m%$m%
Total goods24,05423,93222,04527,71625,74725,89214613,84717
Capital goods (b)6,1976,0435,5386,7836,2916,66437361,12620
Consumption goods7,3567,8486,4139,0648,5858,375-210-21,96231
Intermediate & other goods9,4379,4508,83610,88810,34410,128-216-21,29215
Non-monetary gold1,0645911,25798152672519938-532-42

- 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 May 2021 increased from the revised April 2021 estimate of $25,747m by $146m (1%) to $25,892m.

In May 2021:
•    transport equipment increased $313m (126%)
•    general industrial machinery increased $206m (16%)
•    non-monetary gold increased $199m (38%)
•    electrical machinery increased $151m (9%)

The increase in transport equipment was driven by aeroplanes and other aircraft, up $325m.

The increase in non-monetary gold was driven by unwrought gold. Imports from major source countries including Papua New Guinea and the United States of America remained steady accounting for 49% of imports in May.

The increase in electrical machinery, to its third highest value on record, was driven by lithium-ion electric accumulators (batteries) and assembled solar arrays and solar cells. For the first month on record lithium-ion battery imports reached $100m.

Offsetting the increase:

•    road vehicles declined $692m (-17%)
•    petroleum declined $469m (-18%)

Road vehicles declined from a record high in April, with declines observed across several vehicle categories. The semi-conductor shortage has severely impacted new vehicle production globally, hampering the ability for Australian dealers to meet strong domestic demand.

The decline in petroleum was led by a drop in quantity of diesel imported, while price per litre of diesel increased 3%.

May 2021 on May 2020

May 2021 imports are $3,847m (17%) higher than May 2020, driven by:

•    road vehicles, up $1,809m (114%)
•    petroleum, up $832m (64%)
•    transport equipment, up $389m (226%)

Top five source countries

Key country movements:

•    The United States of America (USA) increased $394m (14%)
•    Germany increased $14m (1%)
•    China increased $3m (0%)
•    Thailand declined $137m (-11%)
•    Japan declined $415m (-23%)

The increase from the USA was primarily in transport equipment, driven by aeroplanes and other aircraft, up $333m.

The increase from Germany was predominantly driven by general industrial equipment, up $49m (45%) with several other increases across a broad range of categories. Partially offsetting these increases was a decline in road vehicles, down $96m (-29%).

The small increase from China was driven by record road vehicle imports, up $202m (74%) to $476m. This included $186m of electric vehicles, also a record high. Electrical machinery increased, up $53m (8%), led by assembled solar arrays and solar cells. Partially offsetting these increases was fertilisers, declining $111m (-71%) from a record high in April, and power generating machinery down $57m (-51%).

The decline from Japan was driven by road vehicles, down $341m (-29%) and petroleum down $82m to just above zero, with diesel and gasoline (petrol) imports dropping to zero.

The decline from Thailand was also led by road vehicles, down $122m (18%).

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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

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