AUSTRALIA’S exports reached a record high in July, growing $354 million, or 2 per cent, to $15 billion, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The result was largely due to an increase in petroleum and liquefied natural gas exports from Western Australia. A 40 per cent rise in exports of petroleum and LNG drove exports of non-rural and other goods higher by 3 per cent, or $324 million, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Coal exports continued to be a strong performer, up 9 per cent on the previous month. Rural exports increased $13 million, or 1 per cent, overall with cereal grains exports up a strong $34 million, or 12 per cent. Manufactured exports improved by 2 per cent, with rises in exports of metals, mach-inery, transport equipment and other manufactured products. Services exports rose $17 million, or 1 per cent, overall with services other than travel and transport growing $13 million, or 2 per cent. Travel exports also rose, up $4 million.Strongest growth was recorded in Australia’s exports to North Asia, India and New Zealand. Imports grew $408 million, 3 per cent, to $16.5 billion. The largest increase was recorded in intermediate goods, with higher imports of fuels and other inputs. Imports of capital goods, consumption goods, and services also increased slightly. In seasonally adjusted terms the trade deficit rose slightly from $1.4 billion to $1.46 billion in July, but the trend has been a decline since January this year, reflecting increased export volumes and higher commodity prices, the ABS publication noted. In the 2003-04 financial year, the resources sector contributed more than $14 billion to WA’s gross state product. Last year, WA’s share of merchandise exports was around 30 per cent.