For the first time in Australia’s history, the trade surplus has recorded three consecutive months above $8-billion. This is according to preliminary trade data released yesterday (Wednesday) by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Exports in February grew by $502-million (2 percent), mainly driven by non-ferrous metals, meat, petroleum, coal, cereals and textile fibres. Offsetting this increase was a large decline in metalliferous ores (minerals that producing metal) of -$833 million (-6 percent).
“February 2021 monthly exports for cereals was the highest on record, $1.3 billion or 4 percent of total exports,” said Head of International Statistics at the ABS, Andrew Tomadini.
The main driver of the increase was wheat and meslin, up $152-million (20 percent) as Australia’s two largest markets for wheat, Indonesia and Vietnam, both saw increases.”
Largest wheat export on record to Vietnam
Vietnam received its largest wheat export on record from Australia, up 58 percent to $116-million.
The decrease in metalliferous ores was driven by a 12 percent decrease in exports to China, the bulk of which was iron ore, which went down by $1,1-billion.
Imports in February grew $577-million (2 percent), driven by an increase in vehicles imports of $705-million (24 percent).
Electric vehicle imports grew $104-million to the largest value on record, while hybrid vehicle imports grew $95-million.
But NZ imports and exports are both down
Meanwhile, across the Tasman Sea, Stats New Zealand said exports and imports were both down in February 2021 compared with the previous February.
The value of total goods exported fell NZ$416-million compared with the same period in 2020. Exports were down to all NZ’s top trading partners except China, which saw an increase of NZ$369-million from February 2020.
“Last year, we saw trading restrictions with China and higher than usual beef exports to the United States in February. In February 2021, exports to China increased comparatively, whereas exports to the United States and other countries have decreased,” International Trade Manager for Stats NZ, Alasdair Allen, said.
Exports of primary products such as meat, dairy, fish and logs to China are all up from last February.
Imports of jets and propellers into NZ drop
However, looking at annual totals to February 2021, meat, fish and log exports to China are still down compared with the previous period due to reduced exports in early 2020 in the wake of the pandemic.
Imports of mechanical machinery and equipment were down NZ$119-million this February, led by a NZ$83-million fall in turbo-jets and turbo-propellers, which aligns with the timing of international travel restrictions.
New Zealand imported fewer turbo-jets and turbo-propellers from the United States and the European Union, but this fall was partly offset by a NZ$25-million increase in imports of laptops, mostly from China.