Australia's trade performance improved during the month of February 2012 by a seasonally-adjusted $491 million but remained in deficit by $480 million.
This was primarily driven by a decline in coal export values, which were down 16 per cent, or $671 million, on the previous month. This was partially offset by exports of metal and minerals which increased by 7 per cent, or $443 million, during the month.
During February 2012 imports of goods and services fell 4 per cent, or $1 billion, and exports by 2 per cent, or $518 million.
Despite two consecutive monthly trade deficits, total exports over the last year were up 9 per cent on the previous year. Australia's trade surplus over the last year stands at $16 billion.
"Australia continues to face a difficult global environment," Trade Minister Craig Emerson said.
"But with signs of stabilisation in the global economy since the beginning of the year and solid growth in our region, Australia's trade prospects remain positive."
Australia's exports of goods to China bounced back in February 2012, despite a slowing Chinese economy, increasing by 14 per cent on the previous month. Over the last year exports to China have grown by 21 per cent and across East Asia by 16 per cent.
"It is pleasing to see the strong export growth across East Asia and in particular to our greatest trading partner, China," Dr Emerson said.
"This reflects the ongoing success of Australian companies seizing the opportunities of the Asian Century."
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