New data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Australia has recorded its fourth straight monthly trade surplus - $731 million in March – following 23 consecutive trade deficits ending in December 2013.

Following strong gains in recent months, exports eased slightly by 1.8 per cent in March, but remain up 12.9 per cent from a year ago. Imports were steady for the month at $28.3 billion to be 7.4 per cent higher from a year ago.

The Government’s successful conclusion of historic trade agreements with Japan and Korea mean Australian exporters will soon have even greater opportunities in these important Asian markets – our second and fourth largest trade partners, respectively.

Australia’s goods exports to North Asia (not seasonally adjusted) continue to rise, reaching $16.8 billion in March to be up 24.7 per cent from a year ago. This was driven by a 29.4 per cent rise in exports to China to $9.5 billion, an 18 per cent rise to Japan to $4.4 billion and a 20.5 per cent rise to the Republic of Korea to $2 billion. Exports to the United States rose 32.6 per cent year-on-year to $1 billion.

Rural exports increased by 1.3 per cent in March to $3.6 billion, with other rural goods increasing 3.6 per cent to $1.6 billion and meat exports up 0.8 per cent to nearly $900 million. Manufactures and services exports were both up slightly, to $3.6 billion and $4.9 billion.

While overall resources exports fell 3.4 per cent to $14.9 billion, with metal ores and minerals down 6.2 per cent to $8.4 billion and other mineral fuels falling 2.3 per cent to $2.8 billion, coal exports were up 2.7 per cent to $3.7 billion.

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