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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Trade surplus on the way

Deficit continues

Australia recorded another international trade deficit of $1.54 billion in October, an increase of $269 million on September, but a 60 per cent improvement on the prior year comparative. 

These figures will likely be revised positively, though, given that the preliminary estimates for FOB values appear to based on very conservative unit values. 

In fact, preliminary estimates for export values for coal and iron ore fell in October, but with bulk commodity prices exploding into the end of the year, this decline won't persist. 

LNG export values hit a record high, as did services exports. 

The trade services balance has generally been improving, largely thanks to the lower dollar and a surge of international tourism, which is a boost for both Sydney and Queensland. 

The international trade balance may well be in surplus before the calendar year is out.

State versus state

Export values to China have at last moved moderately higher year-on-year, though remaining well down from their peaks. 

Merchandise export values from Western Australia are now steadily improving again, while the recent surge in coal and oil prices should see Queensland racking up records for export values in 2017.

Queensland is now consistently reporting a trade surplus again, which hasn't always been the case in recent years.

The wrap

This was the first time since June that the monthly trade deficit increased, but it's likely that there will be positive revisions and it wouldn't be a surprise to see a trade surplus before long. 

The monthly increase was driven by a 2 per cent increase in imports in the month, while export values increased by only 1 per cent. 

When higher coal and iron prices feed through into the export values, we can expect the trade deficit to be closed.