Australia's July 2023 trade report: gold shipments drop, car imports surge, commodity weakness

Company News

by Glenn Dyer

A sharp decline in shipments of non-monetary gold and a surge in the value of car and truck imports, coupled with weaker demand and prices for some key commodities, marked a lackluster start to Australia's financial year 2023-24 in July.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported on Thursday that the seasonally adjusted trade surplus for July fell by $215 million to $8.039 billion.

This decrease of $229 billion from June's significantly revised surplus of $10.425 billion (originally estimated at $11.321 billion for June) resulted from a 2.0% decrease in exports to nearly $54 billion and a 2.5% increase in imports to $45.88 billion.

The most significant decline in exports was a 32% or $949 million drop in the value of non-monetary gold exports to $2.022 billion in August.

While this more than offset a $913 rise in the value of rural exports, it is a notoriously volatile commodity that fluctuates noticeably each month.

The value of coal exports, especially premium coking coal, decreased by $268 million in the month due to weak quantities and prices. Additionally, the value of other mineral fuels, mostly LNG, fell by $227 million over the month, while the value of iron ore and other mineral exports dropped by $106 million.

Among imports, the most notable increase was in the value of non-industrial transport equipment, primarily motor vehicles (both conventionally powered and EVs), which surged by $666 million in July.

The value of industrial transport equipment, including trucks, increased by $228 million, bringing the total for the month for the two categories to $894 million. The main driving factor was imports to fulfill existing orders as supply chain problems eased both domestically and among offshore manufacturers.

There was also a $223 million rise in the value of imports of fuels and lubricants, mainly petrol and oil.

Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter?

Would you like to receive our daily news to your inbox?