Australia's seasonally-adjusted trade deficit widened to $1.1 billion in January 2013, as floods and other extreme weather interrupted production and shipments of resource exports.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said today total exports of goods and services for January were worth just over $25 billion, 0.7 per cent lower than the total in December 2012. However, the monthly exports were slightly ahead of the January 2012 figure, subject to revision.
A 1.4 per cent month-on-month fall in goods exports was partly offset by a 2.3 per cent increase in services exports, to $4.4 billion.
Imports for January rose 0.7 per cent, to $26.1 billion. The resulting $1.1 billion deficit compares with a revised $688 million deficit in December 2012.
The value of rural exports fell 2.7 per cent to $2.9 billion, while resource exports slipped 1.1 per cent to $12.2 billion. This was despite higher prices for iron ore and coal.
A drop in bulk commodity volumes was partly attributable to floods in Queensland and cyclones in Western Australia. Australian coal terminals, for example, recorded an 11 per cent month-on-month drop in volumes, while iron ore shipments from Port Hedland were down 15 cent on December volumes.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson said these factors affected the trade figures. He also pointed to a 5.4 per cent increase in capital goods imports as a sign of expanded productive capacity in the Australian economy.
"Australia's underlying trade performance remains healthy," Dr Emerson said.
"However, the extreme weather of Australia's summer and continued weakness in the global economy will influence monthly totals."
Minister Emerson's Office: (02) 6277 7420
DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555
07 March 2013