Australia trims monthly trade deficit

Media release

5 November 2012

Australia's trade deficit improved between August and September, as slightly weaker exports were outweighed by a more than 2 per cent drop in imports.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said today total exports for September dropped 0.6 per cent to $24.2 billion, while imports fell 2.2 per cent to $25.6 billion.

The resulting $1.46 billion deficit compared with a revised $1.88 billion deficit in August.

Total resource exports in September dropped 2.2 per cent over the month, despite an almost 11 per cent rise in coal, coke and briquettes exports, reflecting improved volumes to Asian markets. Shipments of non-monetary gold were also ahead, by almost 20 per cent to $1.5 billion.

Exports of natural gas and petroleum were also stronger, up more than 3 per cent on the month and almost 27 per cent over the year.

However, metal ores and minerals exports were down nearly 11 per cent because of lower iron ore volumes and prices.

Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson said the latest data reflected recent softening in some minerals prices and broader global weakness.

"Australia's economic fundamentals remain strong and business investment levels are expected to reach 50-year highs," he said.

"This means any improvement in global prices and demand will feed through quickly to the trade figures, and the broader economy."

Australia's merchandise exports to East Asia fell nearly 10 per cent in September, despite a rise in exports to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Merchandise exports to India rose 29 per cent, to $1 billion, in September.

A monthly decrease in goods imports was primarily driven by a 7.8 per cent fall in capital goods, and a 5.6 per cent fall in consumption goods.

Total services exports for the month slipped 0.1 per cent, or $3 million, while imports rose 0.6 per cent, or $28 million.

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