DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs and Trade figures released last week indicate that while the volume of merchandise exports rose 1 per cent last year, the value of these exports slumped 4.3 per cent, due mainly to the slowdown in the world economy.
Primary product exports were dominated by rural and resource commodities, which were down to $69.99 billion in 2002, from $73.14 billion in 2001. Coal, crude petroleum and iron ore remain Australia’s largest individual merchandise exports.
Exports of manufactured goods made up 28 per cent of all merchandise exports last year, however, the value of those exports fell by 1.7 percent to $37.63 billion from the previous year. Export growth of 3 per cent was noted in exports of elaborately transformed manufactures such as scientific apparatus, civil engineering and electronic equipment and motor vehicles and parts, which grew in key markets China and Korea by 18 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. However, there was a decline in simply transformed manufactures.
High performing export items and markets included wine exports that were up 21 per cent to a value of $2.3 billion and motor vehicle parts, which rose 18 percent to $1.1 billion.
Exports rose in three of Australia’s top five markets – Korea, China and New Zealand – as did exports to the UK. Export revenue from services fell by 6 per cent from the previous year’s record level of $33.2 billion, which is attributed to the boost provided by the Olympics in 2000-01, despite having grown at an average rate of 9 per cent a year since 1991-92.
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