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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
November 2020
Released
23/12/2020

Key statistics

•    Exports of goods in November 2020 increased $166m (1%) to $30,510m
•    Imports of goods in November 2020 increased $2,892m (11%) to $28,552m
•    For November there is a goods trade surplus of $1,958m (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)
 Sep 2019Oct 2019Nov 2019Sep 2020Oct 2020Nov 2020Oct 2020 - Nov 2020Year on year
 $m$m$m$m$m$m$m%$m%
Total goods32,95031,44431,80028,44630,34430,5101661-1290-4
Rural goods3,7233,8823,9632,9303,1743,4422688-521-13
Non-Rural (b)26,53825,53625,93523,14725,18324,193- 990-4-1742-7
Non-monetary gold (c )2,6902,0261,9022,3691,9872,8768894597451

- 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 November 2020 increased from the revised October 2020 estimate of $30,344m by $166m (1%) to $30,510m.

In November 2020:

•    gold, non-monetary increased $746m (39%)
•    gas increased $368m (16%)
•    gold coin increased $143m (153%)
•    oil seeds increased $142m (following just $4m traded in October)

Gas increased for the second consecutive month following the steady decline observed between March and September 2020. Following a year of low gas prices, the increase in November is entirely price driven. Seasonally higher energy demand in the northern hemisphere, rising oil prices, and recent production outages in Norway and Australia are all contributors to the observed price increase.

An increase in gold coin exports often occurs towards the end of the calendar year and, like this month, are almost always driven by exports to Germany.

Oil seed exports, driven by canola, follow a seasonal pattern with a period of higher trade commencing from November each year after canola crops are harvested. In November 2020, the main markets for Australian canola were Germany and China, accounting for 54% and 41% respectively.

Offsetting the increase:

•    metalliferous ores declined $1,200m (-9%)
•    coal declined $254m (-8%) 
•    transport equipment declined $103m (-42%)

Metalliferous ores, driven by iron ore declined after a record high was recorded in October. Iron ore exports declined $851m (-8%) due to a lower quantity exported in November (-8%).

Year-on-year

November 2020 exports have declined $1,290m (-4%) on November 2019, this was driven by: 

•    gas, down $1,502m (-36%) 
•    coal, down $1,312m (-30%) 
•    petroleum, down $545m (-46%) 

Metalliferous ores have offset the declines significantly, increasing $2,205m (22%) year-on-year.

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Top five export destinations

Key country movements:

•    Singapore increased $905m (100%)
•    Japan increased $378m (12%)
•    China decreased $1,218m (-10%)
•    United Kingdom (UK) decreased $258m (-15%)
•    South Korea decreased $215m (-9%)

Exports to the United States of America (USA) increased, up $68m (6%), however Singapore displaced the USA from the top five export destinations in November due to a large increase in exports of non-monetary gold, up $834m.

In contrast, a large decrease in non-monetary gold exports to the UK, down $270m (-18%), drove the overall decrease to the UK.

Coal was the largest driver of the decrease to South Korea, down $143m (-28%) following a $163m increase in October. Coal exports to South Korea in November 2020 was also low compared to November 2019, declining by $195m (-35%) year on year.

Exports to China

Driving the decrease to Australia’s largest trading partner, China: 
•    metalliferous ores, down $1,003m (-11%)
•    coal, down $266m (-69%)
•    beverages, down $83m (-50%)

The decline in metalliferous ores to China is driven by a decrease in the quantity of iron ore, with 7% less tonnage shipped this month.

After increases in October, thermal coal decreased $53m (-63%) and hard coking coal decreased $205m (-70%) in November. These values are significantly lower than November 2019, down 83% for thermal and 85% for hard coking.

The decline in beverages was driven by red table wine, down $83m (-52%), following relatively strong months in September and October. 

Meat exports to China increased $16m (7%) month-on-month, however year-on-year, November 2020 is 52% lower than November 2019.

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Imports

International trade in goods - imports summary (a)
 Sep 2019Oct 2019Nov 2019Sep 2020Oct 2020Nov 2020Oct 2020 - Nov 2020Year on year
 $m$m$m$m$m$m$m%$m%
Total goods26,02328,68025,94023,69525,66028,5522,892112,61210
Capital goods (b)6,6847,0086,5245,9136,4128,6272,215352,10332
Consumption goods8,3499,6578,5388,4719,6239,82520221,28715
Intermediate & other goods10,26411,54510,3988,6049,1509,5734235-825-8
Non-monetary gold72746948070747552651114610

- 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 November 2020 increased from the revised October 2020 estimate of $25,660m by $2,892m (11%) to $28,552m.

In November 2020:

•    transport equipment increased $1,121m (462%)
•    telecommunications and sound equipment increased $548m (33%)
•    road vehicles increased $258m (8%)

Within transport equipment, aeroplanes and other aircraft drove this increase, up $1,050m due to the import of a number of aircraft from the USA.

Within telecommunications and sound equipment, mobile phones increased $446m (87%) after a $270m (111%) increase last month. These increases align with the release of new mobile phone models.

Road vehicle imports increased in November 2020 to the highest monthly value ($3,661m) since June 2018. This increase is the sixth consecutive monthly increase since the sharp decline observed in May 2020 due to the pandemic. Despite the strong November result, imports for the calendar year to November 2020 are relatively weak compared with the equivalent periods from previous years. 

Other notable increases include:

•    office and ADP machines, up $176m (18%)
•    general industrial machinery, up $160m (12%)
•    electrical machinery, up $127m (8%)

The increase to office and ADP machines was driven by laptops, which increased $113m (25%). The strong November result is in line with a seasonal pattern that can be observed in most years with imports of office and ADP machines increasing in the months leading up to Christmas.

Offsetting the increase:

•    medicinal and pharmaceutical declined $143m (-12%)

Year-on-year

November 2020 imports are $2,612m (10%) higher than November 2019, this has been driven by:

•    transport equipment, up $1,051m (336%)
•    road vehicles, up $1,046m (40%)

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Top five source countries

Key country movements:

•    China increased $889m (11%)
•    the USA increased $1,244m (47%)
•    Germany increased $120m (11%)
•    Japan decreased $224m (-12%)
•    Thailand decreased $84m (-6%)

China’s increase was driven by a $512m (48%) increase in telecommunications and sound equipment, predominantly mobile phones, and a $168m (25%) increase in office and ADP machines of which the majority is made up of laptops.

The increase in imports from the USA was driven by a $1,055m increase in transport equipment, made up almost entirely of aeroplanes and other aircraft. 

Road vehicles have been the leading cause of a number of country movements in November 2020, driving the increase in imports to both Germany and South Korea and the decrease to Japan and Thailand.

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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