Has Australia’s economy relied too much on China market?

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The Australian economy

In 2017-18, the Australian economy continued to strengthen and completed 27 years of continuous annual economic growth.

Australia is:

  • the world’s largest exporter of iron ore, coal, unwrought lead and wool (UN Comtrade, 2017)
  • the world’s 2nd largest exporter of aluminium ores, beef, lentils and cotton (UN Comtrade, 2017)
  • the world’s 3rd largest provider of international education services (UNESCO, 2016)
  • the world’s 4th largest global exporter of liquefied natural gas (UN Comtrade, 2017)
  • the world’s 5th largest exporter of wine (UN Comtrade, 2017).

Australia’s exports

Australia’s two way trade in goods and services grew at a strong but more moderate pace in 2017‑18, compared to 2016-17.

Two-way trade expanded by 8.4 per cent to $798.6 billion, up from $736.6 billion in 2016-17, to reach a new record high.

Australia’s top five trading partners were China, Japan, the United States, the Republic of Korea and India.

The value of Australian goods and services exports continued to rise in 2017-18. Exports reached a record $403.2 billion, up from $373.7 billion in 2016-17, an increase of nearly 8 per cent. Australia was the world’s twenty-third largest exporter in 2017.

Australia’s top five export markets remained the same in 2017-18, compared to the previous year. China was Australia’s largest export destination, receiving 30.6 per cent of our total exports. A further 29.1 per cent of total exports went to Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States and India, collectively. More than 75 per cent of Australia’s exports went to Australia’s top ten export destinations in 2017-18.

Minerals and Fuels accounted for 47 per cent of Australia’s total exports, with a value of $189.4 billion in 2017-18. Services accounted for a 21.8 per cent share of exports, worth $88 billion. Rural exports and manufactures accounted for 11.7 per cent and 11.4 per cent, or $47.1 billion and $46.1 billion respectively. Gold was Australia’s sixth-largest export, at 5 per cent or $20.2 billion.

Tourism

Tourism is Australia’s largest services export. In 2017-18, we welcomed the largest number of international visitors in any year to date. Over 9 million international visitors came to Australia, representing an increase of 6 per cent over 2016-17.

Over the year, international tourism expenditure grew by 4.5 per cent to a new record high of $42.5 billion, representing an additional $1.8 billion to the Australian economy compared to 2016-17.

Australia’s International Visitors 2017-18
Rank Economy Number of visitors (‘000) % change on 2017-18
1 China 1,422 12.9
2 New Zealand 1,371 1.4
3 United States 788 3.7
4 United Kingdom 742 2.1
5 Japan 442 3.2
6 Singapore 429 -0.6
7 Malaysia 389 -4
8 India 335 19.6
9 Republic of Korea 304 5.4
10 Hong Kong (a) 298 15.1

 

Top 10 Economies by Expenditure, year ending June 2018
Rank Economy Total trip spend ($ million) % change on 2016-17
1 China 11,269 15.20%
2 United States 3,672 -2.80%
3 United Kingdom 3,495 -1.00%
4 New Zealand 2,548 -4.40%
5 Japan 1,762 0.60%
6 Republic of Korea 1,651 9.80%
7 India 1,502 5.00%
8 Singapore 1,415 -3.20%
9 Malaysia 1,335 0.00%
10 Hong Kong (a) 1,301 -1.30%

(a) Special Administrative Region of China

Source: Tourism Research Australia: International Visitor Survey

Agriculture

Australia’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries exports increased by 0.6 per cent to $52.2 billion in 2017-18. Beef was Australia’s largest agricultural export at $8 billion, accounting for 15.3 per cent of the sector’s total exports. Other strong export performers include meat (excluding beef), which grew by 18.1 per cent to reach $4.5 billion, and wool which grew by 22.1 per cent to $4 billion. The sector has grown by more than 75 per cent over the past decade.

Australia’s Top 20 Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Exports 2017-18
Rank Commodity(a)(b) $ million % share % change
1 Beef 7,963 15.3 11.9
2 Wheat 4,652 8.9 -23.4
3 Meat (excl beef) 4,526 8.7 18.1
4 Wool & other animal hair (incl tops) 3,985 7.6 22.1
5 Alcoholic beverages 2,825 5.4 19.5
6 Edible products & preparations 3,007 5.8 19.1
7 Cotton 2,131 4.1 19.1
8 Vegetables 2,032 3.9 -37.9
9 Barley 1,975 3.8 -6.2
10 Fruit & nuts 1,880 3.6 6.3
11 Sugars, molasses & honey 1,837 3.5 -29.1
12 Live animals (excl seafood) 1,720 3.3 6.3
13 Oil-seeds & oleaginous fruits, soft 1,407 2.7 -38.2
14 Wood in chips or particles 1,343 2.6 19.7
15 Milk, cream, whey & yoghurt 1,326 2.5 7.0
16 Animal feed 1,249 2.4 4.9
17 Crustaceans 1,061 2.0 7.4
18 Cheese & curd 947 1.8 11.8
19 Hides & skins, raw (excl furskins) 815 1.6 4.9
20 Cereal preparations 782 1.5 7.4
Total agriculture, forestry & fisheries exports(c) 52,188 0.6

(a) Recorded trade basis.

Source:DFAT

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