AUSTRALIA’S total trade in 2016-17 was worth a record $735.5bn, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s recently published Composition of Trade Australia 2016-17.
In a statement, federal trade minister Steven Ciobo said Australian exports had risen 16.8% to $373.2bn, while imports were valued at $362.1bn, up 1.4%.
“For the 12 months to June 2017, resources were again the driver, with iron ores and concentrates and coal accounting for 31.4% of total exports,” he said.
“Australia’s third largest export was education-related travel services, which rose 16.1% to $28bn, natural gas rose 34.5% to $22.3bn as Australia’s fourth largest export, and personal travel, excluding education, services was fifth, and rose 4.8% to $21.7bn.”
Mr Ciobo said Australia’s top trading partner was again China, a position it has held for the past 11 years.
“Two way trade with China was valued at $174.7bn, or 23.8% of total trade,” he said.
“Japan also overtook the United States to become Australia’s second largest trading partner at $68.6bn, with the United States as the third largest partner valued at $66.5bn.”
Delving deeper into the report, we find that Australia’s exports of goods alone were worth $291.6bn, showing a 19.4% increase over the previous financial year.
Meat and meat preparations $11bn, a decrease of almost 10% on the previous year
Cereal grains and cereal preparations were worth $9.3bn, which was an increase of 17%,
Exports of metal ores and minerals were worth $85.2bn for the year an increase of 23.1% on the 2015-16 financial year.
The value of coal exports was up a whopping 57.1% on the previous year to $54.3bn.
Imports of goods were worth $277.9bn over the past financial year, showing an increase of 2.4% on the 2015-16 financial year.
Australia’s top import (excluding services) by value for the financial year were passenger motor vehicles, imports of which were worth $21.8bn in the 2016-17 financial year, an increase of 1% on the previous year.
Refined petroleum was the second-largest merchandise import, worth $17.4bn after an increase of 7.2%.
Telecom equipment and crude petroleum followed, worth $12bn and $8.6bn, respectively.
Merchandise exports to China rose in value 27.1% in 2016-17 over the previous year, to $95.7bn.
It comes as no surprise that exports of iron ore and concentrates dominated Australia’s trade with China. Over the past financial year, exports of iron ore were worth $51.7bn, after an increase of 33.4% on the previous year. Iron ore accounted for 54% of the value of Australian exports to China.
The value of coal exports to China increased 99% over that time to $11.2bn and wool and animal hair increased 20.1% to $2.4bn.
Imports to Australia from China over the financial year were worth $61.5m in total.
At the top of the list of Chinese imports were telecom equipment and parts, worth $7m after an increase of 2% on the previous year.
Computers were the second-most valuable import from China, worth $5m after a very small increase on the previous year (0.6%).
Furniture was the third most valuable import, worth $2.6m, and imports of prams, toys games and sporting goods were worth $2.3m.
Japan was Australia’s second largest trading partner for merchandise over the past financial year; the Asian country had an 11% share of Australia’s total merchandise trade over the period.
Compared with the previous financial year, coal exports to Japan exploded 35.4% to be worth $15.2bn – up from $11.2bn in 2015-16.
Iron ores and concentrates were another major export to Japan, worth $5.4bn in 2016-17, an increase of 14.8% on the previous year.
And beef (frozen, chilled or fresh) was Australia’s third most valuable export to Japan over the year, worth $1.9m.
Other major exports to Japan include copper ores and concentrates; aluminium; and sugars, molasses and honey.
Topping the list of imports from Japan for the past financial year was motor vehicles, which were worth $7.4bn, after an increase of 12.4% on the previous year.
Gold was the second-most valuable import from Japan, worth $2.6bn.
Refined petroleum imports from Japan were worth $2.5bn in the 2016-17 financial year after a 2.5% decrease on the previous year.
The US came in third when looking at the value of merchandise trade with Australia, representing a 7.5% share of Australia’s total merchandise trade.
Merchandise exports to the US totalled $12.3bn over the past financial year. Australia’s biggest export to the home of the brave was beef (fresh, chilled or frozen), worth $1.5bn after a decrease of 40% on the previous year.
Other meat (fresh, chilled or frozen) was the second-biggest export to the US, worth $934m over the past financial year.
The third biggest export to the US was aircraft, spacecraft and parts, worth $855m after a decrease in value of 23.5% on the 2016-17 financial year.
Turning towards merchandise imports from the US, we find they were worth a total of $31bn last financial year.
At the top of the list was passenger motor vehicles, imports of which were worth $2.2bn after a 6.6% decrease on the previous year.
This was followed by aircraft, spacecraft and parts ($2bn) and medical instruments ($1bn).
South Korea accounted for 6.2% of Australia’s total merchandise trade (by value) during the past financial year.
Exports of both coal and iron ore to South Korea saw significant increases in value (35.7% and 28.4%, respectively). Exports of coal to the peninsular country were worth $6.3bn, while iron ore exports were worth $3.9bn.
The third largest export to South Korea was beef (fresh, chilled and frozen), worth $1.2bn after a decrease of 7.3% on the previous year.
Other notable export include sugars, molasses and honey ($998m); aluminium ($748m); and other ores and concentrates ($693m).
Refined petroleum topped the list of imports from South Korea, worth $4.8bn over the past financial year after a decrease of 3% on the previous year.
Ships, boats and floating structures was the second biggest import category by value from South Korea, worth $3.9bn.
Passenger motor vehicles were the third most valuable import from the country, worth $2.4bn after a decrease of 4.6%.