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International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia

Contains preliminary monthly aggregate estimates of international merchandise trade

Reference period
March 2020
Released
23/04/2020

Key statistics

  • Exports of goods in March 2020 increased by $8,079m (29%) to $36,100m.
  • Imports of goods in March 2020 increased by $2,065m (10%) to $23,760m.

Main features

This release provides preliminary estimates for Australian international merchandise (goods) trade for the month of March 2020 to help measure the economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). These estimates are compiled from administrative data (customs records) sourced from the Department of Home Affairs and are subject to revision. The final March monthly estimates will be published in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) on 7 May 2020.

These preliminary estimates are presented on an original, current price (merchandise (goods) trade) basis only, not a Balance of Payments (BoP) basis. This means that the data are presented on a customs basis, whereas BoP data are derived from the customs basis by applying adjustments for factors such as valuation, coverage, timing and residence, as required by the Balance of Payments and International Investment Manual (BPM6). More information on data that these estimates are directly comparable with can be seen in the Data notes further below.

Preliminary March key points

Original, current prices

Preliminary exports

  • Exports of goods in March 2020 increased from the revised February 2020 merchandise trade estimate of $28,021m by $8,079m (29%) to $36,100m.
  • The large increase in exports comes after declines in January and February 2020.
  • The increase in March 2020 was predominantly driven by a $4,750m (20%) increase in the value of exports of Non-rural goods and a $2,474m (225%) increase in the value of exports of Non-monetary gold.
  • Within Non-rural goods there were increases in exports from the resources sector including strong increases in the value of exports of coal, gas and petroleum and in particular a large increase in the value of exports of iron ore to China.
  • The increase in the value of Non-monetary gold was driven by exports to Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
  • Year-on-year, exports in March 2020 increased by $4,846m (16%) on March 2019.
     

Preliminary imports

  • Imports of goods in March 2020 increased from the revised February 2020 merchandise trade estimate of $21,696m by $2,065m (10%) to $23,760m.
  • This increase was driven by increases in Capital goods, up $895m (18%); Intermediate and other goods, up $583m (6%); and Non-monetary gold, up $467m (85%).
  • The increase in imports was spread across a range of goods.
  • Within Capital goods, there were large increases in the import of mobile phones, office and ADP machinery (including laptop computers), and aircraft.
  • China is Australia’s largest source of imports, accounting for, on average, around a quarter of the value of all imports. Imports from China declined significantly in February with a 41% decline on the January month.
  • In March, imports from China regained some strength, up $300m (7%). Driving this increase were increases in imports of consumer electronics such as mobile phones and laptop computers as well as electrical machinery.
  • Year-on-year, imports in March 2020 decreased by $262m (1%) on March 2019.
     

Preliminary March key figures

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Preliminary international trade in goods summary (a)

 Jan 2019Feb 2019Mar 2019Jan 2020Feb 2020Mar 2020Feb to Mar 2020
$m$m$m$m$m$m$m%
Original current prices
EXPORTS        
 Total goods
29 756
29 182
31 254
28 389
28 021
36 100
+8 079
+29
  Rural goods
3 594
3 889
4 448
3 609
3 727
4 581
+855
+23
  Non-rural goods (b)
24 000
23 273
25 413
23 348
23 195
27 945
+4 750
+20
  Non-monetary gold
2 163
2 019
1 393
1 432
1 100
3 574
+2 474
+225
IMPORTS        
 Total goods
26 041
23 349
24 022
25 205
21 696
23 760
+2 065
+10
  Capital goods (c)
6 562
5 906
5 997
5 708
4 999
5 894
+895
+18
  Consumption goods
8 025
7 581
7 339
8 058
6 988
7 107
+120
+2
  Intermediate & other goods
11 001
9 433
10 236
10 836
9 159
9 741
+583
+6
  Non-monetary gold
453
430
450
603
551
1 018
+467
+85
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
a. Caution should be used when interpreting preliminary estimates as they may be different to the final published estimates, and are subject to revision.
b. For all time periods, confidentialised export items are included in Non-rural goods, whether or not this reflects their true nature.
c. For all time periods, confidentialised import items are included in Capital goods, whether or not this reflects their true nature.
 

Preliminary international trade in goods details (a) (b)

 Jan 2019Feb 2019Mar 2019Jan 2020Feb 2020Mar 2020Feb to Mar 2020
$m$m$m$m$m$m$m%
Original current prices
EXPORTS        
 Total goods
29 756
29 182
31 254
28 389
28 021
36 100
+8 079
+29
  Food and live animals (including beverages and tobacco)
2 827
3 163
3 620
3 156
3 269
3 813
+544
+17
  Crude materials, inedible, except fuels
8 923
9 836
9 955
9 918
9 213
12 452
+3 239
+35
  Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials
11 710
9 632
11 030
9 877
9 218
10 711
+1 493
+16
  Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes
36
42
59
51
54
86
+32
+59
  Chemicals and related products nes
665
845
1 081
787
984
1 161
+176
+18
  Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material
1 421
1 450
1 455
1 178
1 487
1 424
-63
-4
  Machinery and transport equipment
1 049
1 177
1 509
1 062
1 403
1 537
+134
+10
  Miscellaneous manufactured articles
482
575
678
553
730
714
-16
-2
  Commodities and transactions not classified elsewhere (c)
2 641
2 462
1 867
1 806
1 664
4 203
+2 539
+153
IMPORTS        
 Total goods
26 041
23 349 
24 022
25 205
21 696
23 760
+2 065
+10
  Food and live animals (including beverages and tobacco)
1 745
1 481
1 599
1 743
1 538
1 748
+210
+14
  Crude materials, inedible, except fuels
281
295
258
266
290
235
-55
-19
  Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials
3 189
2 724
3 414
3 336
2 739
2 756
+17
+1
  Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes
52
58
66
58
55
61
+6
+11
  Chemicals and related products nes
2 820
2 447
2 636
2 709
2 571
2 991
+420
+16
  Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material
3 025
2 482
2 357
2 956
2 232
2 221
-10
-0
  Machinery and transport equipment
10 141
9 614
9 656
9 325
8 186
9 583
+1 396
+17
  Miscellaneous manufactured articles
3 971
3 523
3 236
3 938
3 088
2 942
-146
-5
  Commodities and transactions not classified elsewhere (c)
816
725
800
873
997
1 223
+226
+23
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
nes not elsewhere specified
a. Caution should be used when interpreting preliminary estimates as they may be different to the final published estimates, and are subject to revision.
b. All values have been rounded to the nearest $1m. Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
c. For all time periods, confidentialised commodities are included in Commodities and transactions not classified elsewhere, whether or not this reflects their true nature.
 

Data notes

As noted above, these are preliminary estimates presented on an original, current price merchandise (goods) trade basis only, not a Balance of Payments (BoP) basis. This means that estimates presented within this publication (mainly the detailed table of data) are only directly comparable with data contained in Tables 12a and 13a in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat no. 5368.0).

Caution should be exercised in interpreting preliminary estimates as they may be different to the final published estimates because:

  • Estimates are based on preliminary data provided by businesses and individuals, and are subject to revision as more complete and accurate information becomes available. Therefore accuracy of these estimates may be poorer than for final estimates.
  • This data does not include adjustments that are supplementary to transaction information provided by the Department of Home Affairs for example, adjustments to account for low value imported items and other above-mentioned BoP adjustments.
     

The timeline for March 2020 below provides key processing timeframes and publication dates for the March 2020 international trade in goods data.

Timeline March 2020

Timeline March 2020

Timeline March 2020

The timeline for March 2020 provides key processing timeframes and publication dates for the March 2020 international trade in goods data.

At the start of March, the March 2020 data collection commences and by the end of March, the March 2020 data collection is complete.

By mid-April, Merchandise (goods) trade statistics are compiled for March 2020 and then in the third week of April (23 April 2020), Preliminary international merchandise (goods) trade data is published (cat. no. 5368.0.55.024).

In late April, Balance of payments adjustments are applied to the March 2020 data. In early May, 2 weeks after the preliminary international merchandise (goods) trade data is published, March 2020 final international merchandise (goods) trade statistics and Balance of payments are published (cat. no. 5368.0) and detailed subscription data is available from 7 May 2020.

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