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What Are Australia’s Main Imports and Exports_ - Header.jpg

What Are Australia’s Main Imports and Exports?

Updated on 28 Dec 2023
5 min read
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According to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI), Australia exported $234 billion in commodities, making it the 20th largest export economy in the world. Being a continent of largely desert, Australia relies heavily on its coastal economy as a source of income to sustain its populations.

Australia is also considered the 22nd largest importer in the world by the ECI, with its yearly imports totaling at $199 billion. However, this number is the result of a steady decrease in imports over the past five years. In terms of wealth per adult, Australia is the second wealthiest nation, just after Switzerland.

What Does Australia Export?

Australia’s main export is iron ore, followed by their other most valuables exports coal, gold, and petroleum. These exports alone rake in $48.2 billion, $47 billion, $29.1 billion, and $20.3 billion, respectively. Of course, the country also ships other noteworthy items including food, wine, and cars.

Here’s a List of Australia’s Top Exports and Value as of 2018:

  • Iron ore and other ores ($38.8 billion—23.5% of the total exports)

  • Gold and other precious metals ($16.1 billion—6.3% of the total exports)

  • Mineral fuels including oil ($87.7 billion—34.6% of the total exports)

  • Bovine meat ($10.2 billion–4% of the total exports)

  • Inorganic chemicals ($8.2 billion— 3.2% of the total exports)

  • Wheat and cereals ($4.9 billion—1.9% of the total exports)

  • Machinery including computers ($4.8 billion—1.9% of the total exports)

  • Aluminum ($3.8 billion—1.5% of the total exports)

  • Electrical machinery and equipment ($3.2 billion—1.3% of the total exports)

  • Optical, technical, and medical apparatuses ($3.2 billion—1.3% of the total exports)

This list of exports accounts for about three-quarters —79.5%— of the overall value of their global shipments.

Where Does Australia Export to?

Being that the continent of Australia is located in the South Pacific, it’s main trading partners are within the Asian global market. It’s major destinations for export include:

  • China, accounting for 35% of its export destinations and about $85 billion in yearly revenue

  • Japan, accounting for 14% of its export destinations and about $34.6 billion in yearly revenue

  • South Korea, accounting for 7.4% of its export destinations and about $18 billion in yearly revenue

  • India, accounting for 6.1% of its export destinations and about $14.8 billion in yearly revenue

  • Hong Kong, accounting for 5.8% of its export destinations and about $14.2 billion in yearly revenue

Australia also exports its commodities to the United States (making up just 3.5% of its export destinations) and the United Kingdom (making up only 1.5% of its export destinations). Other lesser export destinations include Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Germany, Turkey, and Brazil.

What Does Australia Import?

Australia imported about $227.3 billion in commodities from around the world in 2018. The country’s imports represent only 1.3% of the overall global imports which were estimated to be about $17.788 trillion. Petroleum and crude oils as well as cars seem to be Australia’s main imports.

Here’s a List of Australia’s Top Imports and Values:

  • Processed Petroleum Oils—$18.9 billion

  • Cars—$16.9 billion

  • Crude oil—$10.2 billion

  • Phone system devices including smartphones—$8.5 billion

  • Delivery trucks—$7.5 billion

  • Computers and optical readers—$7.2 billion

  • Pharmaceuticals—$5.3 billion

  • Gold (unwrought)—$4.6 billion

  • Electro-medical equipment (X-ray machines, etc.)—$2.4 billion

  • Blood fractions including antisera—$2.3 billion

Australia’s top imports alone end up being worth about $187.5 billion and equate to 82.5% of their overall total of imported commodities. Other notable imports on the rise in Australia include furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings, plastic and plastic articles.

Where Does Australia Import From?

The major players that export to the land down under include Asian countries, European countries, and North America. The country’s major origin destinations for imports include:

  • China, accounting for 24% of its total import origins and about $47 billion in costs

  • South Korea, accounting for 9.3% of its total import origins and about $18.7 billion in costs

  • Japan, accounting for 8.2% of its total import origins and about $16.3 billion in costs

  • Thailand, accounting for 5.3% of its total import origins and $10.6 billion in costs

  • The United States, accounting for 10% of its total import origins and $20.5 billion in costs

Australia also imports from Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, and New Zealand, accounting for 4.6%, 4%, 3.2%, and 2.8%, respectively, of its total import origins. The country’s lesser import trading partners include Italy, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, South Africa, and other countries within Asia and Europe.

Australia is notable for its uninterrupted annual economic growth, which is steadily increasing at about 3% each year. Its robust economy is largely due to is deep trade ties with the Asian region as well as its top export of iron ore, which accounts for more than 30% of the world’s iron ore supply.

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