Trade deficit narrows sharply in February

Media release

3 April 2013

Australia's seasonally-adjusted trade deficit narrowed to $178 million in February, as the value of exports increased across most categories compared with January.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that total exports of goods and services for the month were worth $25.6 billion, 3.3 per cent more than in January. Imports dropped by just under 1 per cent, to $25.8 billion.

The resulting $178 million deficit compares with a revised $1.2 billion deficit in January, and is well ahead of consensus forecasts of around $1 billion. The exports total was also almost 4 per cent higher than a year ago.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson welcomed the result, which he described as a healthy recovery after interruptions to trade by extreme weather in January.

"Australia's economy is resilient, being strengthened by its engagement with Asia, a region of unrivalled growth and potential," Dr Emerson said.

"Although prices fluctuate, exporters can count on growing demand from the dynamic economies of our region."

Australia's merchandise exports to East Asia rose by more than 2 per cent in February, led by a nearly 19 per cent surge in exports to the 10 ASEAN economies.

Overall, the value of non-rural goods exports increased by 4.4 per cent, or $714 million, to $17 billion. Resources exports rose 2.5 per cent to $12.6 billion, led by an 11.6 per cent increase in coal, coke and briquettes, and a 3 per cent increase in metal ores and minerals. Manufactures exports rose by just over 12 per cent, or $374 million, to $3.5 billion.

Rural goods exports were also up, by 7 per cent to $3.1 billion. Services exports rose by just under 1 per cent, or $38 million, to $4.3 billion.

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