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Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)
Australia’s international trade surplus surged to a record $15.1 billion in August, the third consecutive monthly peak.
This compared with an upwardly revised $12.7 billion surplus in July and economist forecasts for a smaller $10 billion surplus in August.
“Higher commodity prices have significantly boosted export earnings, driving the trade surplus to new record highs,” Westpac senior economist Andrew Hanlan said.
Exports rose by four per cent in August, led by a 17 per cent increase in cereal grain exports.
“Supply and production disruptions affecting key wheat exporting nations continue to create advantageous conditions for Australian exporters,” the ABS said.
Mineral fuel exports rose 16 per cent, led by strong demand for LNG from Asian customers as economic activity rebounds from COVID-related disruptions.
There was also a 13 per cent increase in coal products.
“The increase in thermal coal also coincides with strong energy demand in Asia, as well as reduced supply from other key thermal coal producing nations,” the ABS said.
Economists had expected some moderation in the trade position as a result of the plunge in the iron ore price from above a record $US230 per tonne in May.
The red metal was just under $US120 per tonne on Tuesday.
“(Exports of) metal ores – including iron ore – fell by less than we expected, to be down by $0.7 billion, which was more than offset by broad based gains across the rest of resources,” Mr Hanlan said.
Imports declined one per cent in August, which Mr Hanlan thought could be supply chain disruptions impacting delivery timetables.