Australia’s trade surplus surprise with record high commodity demand

The Sydney-Australia trade surplus grew to a record in August, as the power of liquefied natural gas and coal exports offset lower iron ore prices, a plunge in mining profits and tax revenues.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released Tuesday showed that the international trade surplus surged from A $ 12.7 billion last month to A $ 15.1 billion ($ 11 billion) in August. This was a record high and confused analysts’ forecast of a decline to A $ 10.3 billion.

Monthly exports increased 4.1% to A $ 48.5 billion, driven by LNG, hard coke coal, and steam coal, thanks to strong energy demand in Asia. Both prices and quantities are high, outpacing the sharp drop in prices of iron ore, Australia’s largest source of export revenue.

Energy demand in Asia is heating up as China’s power shortages lead to power outages and countries are competing for LNG and coal shipments ahead of winter.

August exports of Australian products to China alone amounted to A $ 18.6 billion, up 55% year-on-year, with little impact from continued trade and political tensions with Beijing.

Imports in August fell 1.5% to A $ 33.4 billion, with capital goods declining and consumer goods imports driven by automobiles.

Trade in services remains about half of its pre-pandemic level, and the Australian border is still closed to tourists and students.

ABS said it would stop reporting figures from January, seeking ways to improve its statistics due to problems in procuring reliable data about its services.

($ 1 = 1.3729 Australian dollars)

Wayne Cole