Australia’s trade surplus surprises with record demand for raw materials

A forklift unloads shipping containers from trucks at a storage facility near Sydney Airport in Australia on November 30, 2017. Photo taken November 30, 2017. REUTERS / David Gray / Files

SYDNEY, Oct. 5 (Reuters) – Australia’s trade surplus unexpectedly hit a record high in August as strong liquefied natural gas and coal exports more than offset lower iron ore prices, a boon to mining profits and tax revenues.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on Tuesday showed the international trade surplus jumped to A $ 15.1 billion ($ 11.0 billion) in August, from A $ 12.7 billion the month before. . It was the highest on record and analysts’ forecasts of a drop to A $ 10.3 billion were denied.

Exports climbed 4.1% in the month to A $ 48.5 billion, driven by LNG, hard coking coal and thermal coal, on strong energy demand in Asia. Prices and volumes were higher, eclipsing a sharp drop in prices for iron ore, Australia’s largest export producer.

Energy demand in Asia has only intensified as power shortages in China have led to power outages and countries compete for LNG and coal shipments before winter.

Australian merchandise exports to China alone amounted to A $ 18.6 billion in August, up 55% from the previous year and showing little impact from ongoing trade and political tensions with Beijing.

Imports fell 1.5% in August to A $ 33.4 billion, with the decline mainly attributable to capital goods, while imports of consumer goods were driven up by cars.

Trade in services remains at around half of pre-pandemic levels, with Australia’s international borders still closed to tourists and students.

The ABS said that due to problems with finding reliable data on services, it will stop releasing the figures from January, while looking for ways to improve the statistics.

($ 1 = AU $ 1.3729)

Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Tom Hogue and Shri Navaratnam

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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