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International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia

Contains preliminary monthly aggregate estimates of international merchandise trade

Reference period
Sept 2020

Key statistics

  • Exports of goods in September 2020 increased by $756m (3%) to $28,923m.
  • Imports of goods in September 2020 declined by $245m (-1%) to $23,810m.

Main features

This release provides preliminary estimates for Australian international merchandise (goods) trade for the month of September 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 September monthly estimates will be published in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) on 5 November 2020.

Preliminary September key points and figures

Preliminary trade in goods (original, current prices)

  • The preliminary figures show that the value of exports increased $756m (3%) to $28,923m from the revised August 2020 value of $28,167m. Year-on-year, the September 2020 figure declined $4,027m (-12%) from September 2019.
  • The value of goods imported declined by $245m (-1%) to $23,810m on the revised August 2020 value of $24,055m. Year-on-year, the September 2020 figure declined $2,213m (-9%) from September 2019.
  • With the imports decline and the exports increase September 2020 recorded a goods trade surplus of $5,114m (original, current price, merchandise trade basis).
Preliminary international trade in goods summary (a)
   Jul 2019Aug 2019Sep 2019  Jul 2020Aug 2020Sep 2020 Aug to Sep 2020
   $m$m$m  $m$m$m $m%
Original Current Prices
 Total goods35,34333,86532,950  28,65828,16728,923 7563
  Rural goods3,8803,7173,723  2,9323,1523,058 -94-3
  Non-Rural goods (b)28,72628,01426,538  22,11223,63523,496 -139-1
  Non-monetary gold (c)2,7372,1342,690  3,6141,3802,369 98972
 Total goods26,34925,88526,023  25,82424,05523,810 -245-1
  Capital goods (d)6,0635,8106,684  6,5555,7705,941 1713
  Consumption goods8,4758,2628,349  8,4408,3428,472 1302
  Intermediate & other goods11,02410,71310,264  9,7249,0018,690 -311-3
  Non-monetary gold7871,100727  1,106942707 -235-25
- 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 price)

  • Exports of goods in September 2020 increased from the revised August 2020 estimate of $28,167m by $756m (3%) to $28,923m.
  • The increase in September 2020 was driven by non-monetary gold (excluding gold coin), up $876m (69%) off the back of a $2,270m decline in August 2020. A regular export destination for gold, the United Kingdom, increased by $517m (76%) while France imported $625m of Australian non-monetary gold, the first significant export of non-monetary gold to France.
  • Other increases in September include gold coin, up $113m (108%) and beverages, up $98m (35%). The increase in beverages is driven by a $103m (150%) increase in red table wine from fresh grapes exported to China.
  • Partially offsetting these increases were declines in exports of petroleum, down $140m (-16%) and gas, down $139m (-7%).
  • Year-on-year, exports in September 2020 declined $4,027m (-12%) compared to September 2019. This was primarily driven by falls in gas, down $2,234m (-53%); coal, which has been largely declining since mid-2019, down $1,439m (-30%); and non-monetary gold (excluding gold coin), down $461m (-18%). Over the same period exports of metalliferous ores were up $1,731m (16%).

Preliminary exports - top 5 destination countries (original, current price)



Preliminary imports (original, current price)

  • Imports of goods in September 2020 declined from the revised August 2020 estimate of $24,055m by $245m (-1%) to $23,810m.
  • The decline was driven in part by a decline in imports of non-monetary gold, down $235m (-25%). Thailand, Senegal, and the United Kingdom all had substantial declines (-100%) reporting either very little or no trade with Australia in non-monetary gold for September. 
  • Imports of textile yarn, fabrics and related products, which includes commodities associated with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as facemasks and isolation gowns declined further in September 2020, down $194m (-29%) from August 2020 continuing its decline from the record high of $736m in July 2020. Despite this decline, the value for September 2020 was an increase of $144m (42%) on September 2019.
  • Other large declines occurred in imports of petroleum, down $173m (-9%); and tobacco, down $101m (-89%). Tobacco imports have spiked in August and declined in September over recent years, most notably in 2019 and 2020 with the annual increases (effective from 1 September each year) in the tobacco excise-equivalent customs duty that have occurred between 2017 and 2020.
  • Partially offsetting the overall decline in September 2020, imports of road vehicles increased by $247m (9%). This is the fourth consecutive monthly increase, and year-on-year was only $1m less than the value of road vehicle imports in September 2019.
  • Year-on-year imports of goods in September 2020 declined by $2,213m (-9%) on September 2019 due largely to a significant decline in petroleum imports, down $1,151m (-40%). Petroleum imports have been largely declining since late 2018.

Preliminary imports - top 5 source countries (original, current price)



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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