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Services sector drives record trade growth for Australia

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Australia’s two-way trade reached a record high of $735.5 billion in 2016-17, according to recent data from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Exports rose 16.8 per cent to $373.2 billion, driven by strong growth in the services sector, while imports were valued at $362.1 billion – up 1.4 per cent.

Exports accounted for about 16% of total Australian economic output.

DFAT’s Composition of Trade, Australia 2016-17 report released earlier this month showed the resources sector still accounts for the majority of Australia’s exports.

For the 12 months to June 2017 iron ores & concentrates and coal accounted for 31.4 per cent of total exports.

Australia’s third largest export was education-related travel services, which rose 16.1 per cent to $28 billion.

The services sector is valued at an estimated $1.2 trillion and accounts for 10.6 million jobs.

Primary product exports on the rise

The report shows natural gas rose 34.5 per cent to $22.3 billion as Australia’s fourth largest export, and personal travel, excluding education, services was fifth, and rose 4.8 per cent to $21.7 billion.

Exports of unprocessed primary products increased 31.1 per cent to $165.6 billion in 2016-17 and processed primary products rose 13.1 per cent to $55.9 billion.

Exports of manufactures fell 1.1 per cent to $44 billion.

Growth in services exports, which increased 8.3 per cent, is helping diversify the drivers of Australia’s trade growth, says Trade Minister Steven Ciobo.

Top trading partner

“With tourism, education and financial services an increasingly important part of the Australian economy, these industries attract customers from across the globe,” he said.

“Importantly, Australia’s tourism exports continue to support our overall export growth and accounted for $37.2 billion, or 10 per cent, of total exports of goods and services.”

Australia's top trading partner was again China, a position it has held for the past 11 years, and two-way trade with China was valued at $174.7 billion or 23.8 per cent of total trade.

Japan also overtook the United States to become Australia’s second largest trading partner at $68.6 billion, with the United States as the third largest partner valued at $66.5 billion.

The full report is available on the DFAT website.

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