Australia records small trade deficit in May

Media release

5 July 2012

Australia recorded a seasonally-adjusted trade deficit of $285 million in May 2012, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

It was the fifth consecutive monthly deficit, but came in slightly better than market forecasts.

The deficit was $259 million higher than the figure for April — which was revised down from $203 million to $26 million — and came from a 2 per cent month-on-month increase in exports, to $26.8 billion, and a 3 per cent increase in imports, to $27.1 billion.

Total merchandise trade with Australia’s main partners in East Asia rose 10 per cent, to $26.8 billion, in May.

Exports to China increased 14 per cent, driven by a 17 per cent rise in exports of iron ore fines. Exports to India rose 17 per cent to $1 billion.

Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson said the results again showed the importance of Australia’s ongoing close engagement with the Asian region amid continued economic weakness in other parts of the world.

“Australia remains focused on building on and diversifying its trade relationships with the emerging economies of Asia,” Dr Emerson said.

“Trade was a big theme during this week’s visit to Darwin by the Indonesian President, and this Government will continue to build ever-closer trade and investment ties with our Asian neighbours.”

Exports of manufactures rose 9 per cent to $3.8 billion in May. Medicinal and pharmaceutical exports were up 29 per cent, or $103 million, to a record $462 million.

Of imports, there was a 3 per cent increase, to $6.1 billion, in capital goods, reflecting ongoing investment in Australia’s productive capacity.

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