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Economy in Brief

Australian Exports Continue Trend Toward More Asian Orientation and Commodity Prices Reflect Relative Demands of Nonagricultural vs.  Agricultural Commodities
by Louise Curley November 1, 2004

Export data released today show that the trend that began in early 2003 toward increased Australian exports to Asia relative to the US and Europe has continued. In September, 2004, exports to Asian countries were significantly above the monthly average of 2003, while exports to the European Union and the United States were only moderately above the monthly average for 2003. Chart 1 shows exports to China versus those to the European Union.

In terms of the types of commodities exported, Australia is now exporting fewer of its agricultural natural resources and more of its vast store of nonagricultural natural resources. Much of the shift is due to the rapid industrialization of China with its demands for such base materials as copper, nickel, lead and zinc and iron ore, coal and liquid natural gas.

The increased demand for base metal and nonrural commodities relative to that of rural commodities is reflected in the relative prices as shown in Chart 2.

Exports (Millions A$) Sep 04 Aug 04 Sep 03 M/M
%
Y/Y
%
2003 Mo Avg  2002 Mo Avg 2001 Mo Avg 
Rural Goods 1 2352 2287 1858 2.84 26.59 1866 2407 2538
Non-rural Goods 2 8092 7745 6882 4.47 17.58 7190 7553 7730
To China 961 921 857 4.34 12.64 757 697 632
      Japan 2076 2073 1631 0.14 27.28 1640 1848 1977
      ASEAN 1234 1157 898 7.43 38.42 1008 1215 1282
      EU 1235 1225 1257 0.82 -1.75 1283 1243 1228
      US 811 845 709 -4.02 14.39 787 962 993
Reserve Bank of Australia-Index of Commodity Prices 
(Jul 2000 to Jun 2001=100)
Oct 04 Sep 04 Oct 03 M/M
%
Y/Y
%
2003 Mo Avg  2002 Mo Avg 2001 Mo Avg  
  Base Metals 119 117.8 94.9 1.02 25.40 93.8 98.3 106.1
  Rural Component 89.7 94.3 93.5 -4.88 -4.06 96.1 103.9 101.8 
  Non-rural Component 100.7 102.7 82.8 -1.95 21.62 85.8 96.2 100.0
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