A solid performance from services has helped soften the fall in the physical goods trade surplus for November, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The ABS said on Thursday that the seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus fell $1.561 billion to $5.022 billion in November from $6.58 billion in October.
A faster rise in imports of 10% (up $2.774 billion to $31.370 million) was the main driver as imports of aircraft, cars, telecommunications products, oil and petrol and non-monetary gold all rose in the month.
The value of exports rose $1.214 billion (3%) to $36,393 billion. That was better than the 1% rise in physical goods exports ($166 million) as shipments of coal fell in volume and value because of China’s blockade and iron ore volumes also dipped.
The preliminary report issued before Christmas showed the goods trade surplus fell to just under $2 billion in November, down from $4.7 billion in October.
ABS Head of International Statistics, Branko Vitas said: “An 11 per cent increase in imports and a small increase in exports has more than halved the goods trade surplus this month. This is the first time since November 2018 that the goods trade surplus has dropped below the $2 billion mark”.
The surplus of $5.022 billion was the 29th monthly surplus in a row – exports at $36.39 billion and imports at $31.37 billion was the highest monthly figures since April 2020 as imports and exports sagged as the pandemic hit local and offshore activity and demand.