Australia recorded a seasonally-adjusted trade deficit of $556 million in July, as a softening of commodity prices and demand led to a fall in exports.
According to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the export of goods and services dropped 2.7 per cent month-on-month, to $25.8bn. Year-on-year, the fall was 1.5 per cent.
The value of imports, meanwhile, was down 1.5 per cent, to $26.3bn month-on-month, but up 6 per cent when compared with the same period last year.
Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson said today the July data reflected a slight drop in prices and demand for Australian mineral and agricultural exports.
However, he said a monthly rise in services and manufactured goods had partly offset this.
"Although commodity prices have peaked, the Australian economy is sufficiently diversified to withstand global weakness," Dr Emerson said.
Dr Emerson also noted a surge in exports of natural gas and petroleum in July, to an all-time high of $2.4bn, up 1.7 per cent on the month and more than 32 per cent compared with July last year.
"Investment in mining and energy infrastructure is setting Australia up for a resources production boom," Dr Emerson said.
"We are building capacity to meet continued strong demand from rapidly-growing Asian economies in this, the Asian Century."
Although exports to China were down 14.3 per cent compared with June, shipments to India were up 13.5 per cent. There was also export growth to Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia.
For the 12 months to the end of July 2012, total exports to East Asia rose 9.6 per cent, to $188.7bn, from the previous 12 months.
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