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Australia's trade balance for August revealed a massive surplus of AUD15,077 million (expected surplus AUD10,650 million a record high. Exports climbed 4.1% in the month to A$48.5 billion led by LNG, hard coking coal and thermal coal. Imports fell 1.5% in August to A$33.4 billion

 Ausralia Trade August 2021

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus increased $2,427m to $15,077m in August
  • Goods and services credits (exports) rose $1,923m (4%) to $48,524m
  • Goods and services debits (imports) fell $506m (1%) to $33,446m

Demand for energy in Asia has only got hotter as shortages of electricity in China led to blackouts and countries compete for LNG and coal shipments ahead of winter.

Australian goods exports to China alone stood at A$18.6 billion in August, up 55% on a year earlier and showing little impact from ongoing trade and political tensions with Beijing.

Australia Coal Exports August 21

Exports +4% m/m, prior 3%. led by LNG, hard coking coal and thermal coal, courtesy of strong energy demand in Asia. Both prices and volumes were higher, eclipsing a sharp fall in prices for iron ore, Australia's number one export earner. These numbers are from August and with the energy crisis around there is likely further increases to come. Iron ore prices were lower but rose through latter September

Imports -1% m/m, prior 5% Indicator of domestic demand hit by lockdowns. Imports fell 1.5% in August to A$33.4 billion, with the drop mainly in capital goods while consumption good imports were led higher by cars. Trade in services remains around half of pre-pandemic levels with Australia's international borders still shut to tourists and students. The ABS said that due to problems with sourcing reliable data on services it would stop reporting the figures from January, while seeking means to improve the statistics.

Historically coal had been Australia's biggest export earner and these trade numbers confirm its ongoing strength and significant contribution to the economy. In the last year or so with the surge in iron ore prices coal had dropped to number two. 

Most of the coal was exported to Asia, from established markets in North Asia to the fast growing economies of Southeast Asia and India. 

From 2017 Minerals Report:

Australian Thermal Coal Exports

MCA said. "Southeast Asia is emerging as a significant new market for Australian coal due to its recent investments in high efficiency, low emission coal-fired power plants significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Exports to this market were worth approximately A$2 billion in 2017," 

Australia Metalurgical Coal Exports

MCA pointed to high productivity within the Australian coal mining industry, proximity to major markets and strong regional economic and population growth as factors that "will continue to underpin coal exports in the long term."

Source: Minerals Council of Australia ABS

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