Australia’s Top 10 Exports

Australia's Top 10 Exports


The Commonwealth of Australia shipped US$229.7 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a -8.9% decline since 2013 but a 21.2% gain from 2016 to 2017.

From January to August 2018, exported goods from Australia were valued at $166.4 billion. This 8-month metric puts Australian exports on track for an annualized $249.6 billion estimated for all 2018.

Australia is a sovereign nation located in the Southern Hemisphere comprised of the Australian continental mainland plus Tasmania and many smaller islands.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Australia’s exported goods plus services represent 20.5% of total Australian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

Given Australia’s population of 23.2 million people, its total $229.7 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $9,900 for every resident in that country.

Australia’s unemployment rate was 5.4% as of June 2018, down from 5.8% at December 2017.

Australia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Australian global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Australia.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$66.9 billion (29.1% of total exports)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $60.2 billion (26.2%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $15.4 billion (6.7%)
  4. Meat: $9.1 billion (4%)
  5. Cereals: $6.6 billion (2.9%)
  6. Inorganic chemicals: $6.1 billion (2.7%)
  7. Machinery including computers: $4.7 billion (2%)
  8. Aluminum: $3.1 billion (1.4%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.1 billion (1.4%)
  10. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $3.1 billion (1.3%)

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Australia’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.

Australia’s top 10 exports accounted for over three-quarters (77.6%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Australian mineral fuels including oil was the top gainer up in value by 37.9% from 2016 to 2017 led by coal, petroleum gas and crude oil.

The second-fastest increase belongs to inorganic chemicals via a 33.8% gain.

The third-strongest improvement was for cereals up 28.7% led by increased Australian shipments of wheat, barley and rice.

One product category declined in international sales, namely Australian machinery including computers with its -4% drop.


Overall Australia generated an $8.4 billion surplus in 2017 up by 3,644% from $223.9 million one year earlier.

As of June 2018, Australia’s trade surplus stood at $10.8 billion down -6.5% compared to the first 6 months of 2017.

The following types of Australian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Ores, slag, ash: US$59.3 billion (Up by 22.1% since 2016)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $44.1 billion (Up by 42.3%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $8.7 billion (Up by 16.7%)
  4. Meat: $8.6 billion (Up by 11.2%)
  5. Cereals: $6.4 billion (Up by 29.4%)
  6. Inorganic chemicals: $4.5 billion (Up by 31.1%)
  7. Wool: $2.8 billion (Up by 27.8%)
  8. Vegetables: $2.2 billion (Up by 56.2%)
  9. Copper: $1.8 billion (Up by 7.1%)
  10. Oil seeds: $1.6 billion (Up by 24.7%)

Australia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of iron ores in particular, but also for copper, aluminum, zinc, manganese, nickel, lead and tin. In turn, these cashflows indicate Australia’s strong competitive advantages under the ores, slag and ash product category.


Below are exports from Australia that are negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Australia’s goods trail Australian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Vehicles: -US$27.6 billion (Up by 15.5% since 2016)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$24.2 billion (Up by 7.9%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$19.7 billion (Up by 12.5%)
  4. Ships, boats: -$6.7 billion (Up by 1,166%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: -$5.3 billion (Down by -1.4%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: -$4.9 billion (Up by 8.1%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$4.7 billion (Down by -4%)
  8. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$4.2 billion (Up by 2.1%)
  9. Articles of iron or steel: -$3.5 billion (Up by 0.6%)
  10. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$3 billion (Up by 3.9%)

Australia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for vehicles especially cars, trucks and automotive parts or accessories.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Australia’s competitive disadvantages in the international vehicles market, but also represent key opportunities for Australia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.


Australian Export Companies

Here are some of the larger international trade players for Australia:

  • BHP Billiton (diversified metals)
  • Fortescue Metals Group (iron, steel)
  • Woodside Petroleum (oil, gas)
  • CSL Limited (biotech)
  • Amcor (containers, packaging)
  • Santos (oil, gas)
  • Orica (diversified metals)
  • Newcrest Mining (diversified metals)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are also examples of Australian exporters:

  • Australia Meat Holdings (bovine meat, offal)
  • Spiral Guard Australia (plastic items, tubes/pipes/hoses, plates/sheets/film/foil)
  • Maersk Logistics Australia (wine, malt beer)
  • Elektromotive Australia (bicycles, motorcycles)


Searchable List of Australia’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Australia’s most valuable exported products are iron ores and concentrates followed by coal, petroleum gases then gold.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Australia during 2017. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2016.

RankAustralian Export Product2017 Value (US$)Change
1Iron ores, concentrates$49.3 billion+24.8%
2Coal, solid fuels made from coal$40.6 billion+43.4%
3Petroleum gases$20.5 billion+46.5%
4Gold (unwrought)$13.1 billion-2.8%
5Aluminum oxide/hydroxide$5.8 billion+34.1%
6Wheat$4.7 billion+29%
7Crude oil$4 billion+11.8%
8Copper ores, concentrates$3.6 billion+5.9%
9Frozen beef$3.5 billion+5.7%
10Wool (uncarded, uncombed)$2.9 billion+26.6%
11Aluminum (unwrought)$2.6 billion+10.7%
12Sheep or goat meat$2.6 billion+29.3%
13Fresh or chilled beef$2.3 billion+1.1%
14Dried shelled vegetables$2.2 billion+47.9%
15Refined copper, unwrought alloys$2.2 billion-0.2%
16Wine $2.1 billion+19.6%
17Processed petroleum oils$1.8 billion+12.7%
18Medication mixes in dosage$1.7 billion+5.5%
19Barley$1.6 billion+44.1%
20Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)$1.6 billion+34.5%
21Aircraft parts$1.4 billion+14.2%
22Zinc ores, concentrates$1.3 billion+53.1%
23Other food preparations$1.3 billion+28.8%
24Rape/colza seeds$1.3 billion+43.2%
25Zinc (unwrought)$1.3 billion+60.6%
26Precious metal ores, concentrates$1.2 billion+2.9%
27Phone system devices $1.1 billion+29.6%
28Vermiculite, perlite$999.4 million+240.2%
29Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust$967.7 million+14.9%
30Live bovine cattle$897.9 million-19%
31Lead (unwrought)$866.2 million+8.2%
32Aluminum ores, concentrates$844.4 million+15.8%
33Orthopedic appliances$756.9 million+4.4%
34Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$744.2 million+19.8%
35Blood fractions (including antisera)$736 million+9.5%
36Cars$732.6 million-45%
37Cheese, curd$721.5 million+16.3%
38Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$719.4 million+5.7%
39Mechano-therapy appliances$676.3 million+4.4%
40Iron or steel scrap$632.6 million+54.8%
41Automobile parts/accessories$624.9 million+20.2%
42Computers, optical readers$619.8 million+26.3%
43Crustaceans (including lobsters)$619.2 million-1.7%
44Red meat offal$586.6 million+6.7%
45Miscellaneous nuts$586.3 million-0.2%
46Other coloring matter, luminophores$560.4 million+32.2%
47Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$536.5 million+6.9%
48Coins$521.2 million-29.3%
49Rough wood$514 million+28.1%
50Precious metal waste, scrap$503.4 million-23.7%
51Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$409.8 million-14.4%
52Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$406.1 million+28.8%
53Jewelry$405.4 million+38.8%
54Aluminum waste, scrap$398.3 million+16.3%
55Miscellaneous machinery$377.1 million+19.4%
56Uncoated kraft paper$368.6 million+8%
57Hay, alfalfa, clover$364.2 million+9%
58Machinery parts$355.7 million+1.7%
59#N/A$354.1 million+38.9%
60Lead ores, concentrates$338.5 million-12.5%
61Bovine/equine rawhides, skins$316.3 million+1.7%
62Grapes (fresh or dried)$307.6 million-10.3%
63Fats of cattle, sheep, goats$289.3 million-4.3%
64Liquid pumps and elevators$288.2 million+12.3%
65Sheep/lamb rawhides, skins$287.8 million+0.1%
66Silver (unwrought)$282 million+978.5%
67Malt$258.1 million+14.2%
68Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$255.9 million-0.2%
69Copper waste, scrap$248.3 million+39.2%
70Paper/paperboard waste, scrap$230.1 million+24.4%
71Sort/screen/washing machinery$221.8 million+5.7%
72Nickel ores, concentrates$213.4 million+2.5%
73Table games, bowling equipment$210.6 million-2.5%
74Computer parts, accessories$206.5 million-58.6%
75Physical/chemical analysis tools$201.1 million+25%
76Taps, valves, similar appliances$199.4 million+9.3%
77Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream$193.6 million+12.9%
78Live sheep, goats$192.6 million+12.9%
79Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$188 million+56.3%
80Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$185.6 million-0.1%
81Wheat gluten$185.5 million+1.4%
82Rice$175.7 million+12.8%
83Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$173.7 million+224.9%
84Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$172.9 million+8.6%
85Fertilizer mixes$171.8 million-29.3%
86Cobalt$170.8 million+107.8%
87Animal bladders, stomachs$170.5 million+20.5%
88Inedible meat flour$166.2 million+9.5%
89Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$165.1 million+17.3%
90Metal-containing ash, residues$162.6 million-8.5%
91Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$161.5 million+12.8%
92Printed books, brochures$160.3 million+11%
93Insulated wire/cable$158.2 million+19.7%
94Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$156.6 million+16%
95Uncoated paper$154.9 million-1.5%
96Lower-voltage switches, fuses$153.6 million+12.8%
97Rape/colza/mustard oil$152.2 million+19.4%
98Whole fish (fresh)$150.8 million+102.9%
99Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$145.1 million+18.6%
100Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$144 million+27.8%
101Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$143.9 million+15.5%
102Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$143.2 million-5.4%
103Printing machinery$142.9 million-30.1%
104TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$141.9 million-8%
105Tin ores, concentrates$134.9 million+39.4%
106#N/A$132.9 million-7.7%
107Miscellaneous iron or steel items$131.8 million-9.1%
108#N/A$131.6 million+1.8%
109Trucks$131 million+35.2%
110Turbo-jets$130.8 million+14.5%
111Electrical converters/power units$130.3 million+28.3%
112Survey/hydro/weather instruments$130.1 million+28.4%
113Move/grade/scrape/boring machinery$123.1 million-8.6%
114Microphones/headphones/amps$120.7 million+17.4%
115Piston engine parts$120.7 million+8.3%
116Other measuring/testing machines$118.1 million+19.7%
117Provitamins, vitamins$114.6 million-42.3%
118Sauces, preparations, mixed condiments$111.6 million+6.4%
119Miscellaneous plastic items$110.8 million-5.9%
120Oil seeds$110 million+21.7%
121Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$109.8 million+5.3%
122Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$109.2 million+300.6%
123Temperature-change machines$109 million+16.5%
124Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$108.5 million-18.8%
125Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$108.3 million+2.5%
126Unrecorded sound media$107 million+9.6%
127Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$107 million+20.3%
128Aircraft, spacecraft$106.7 million-64.6%
129Whole fish (frozen)$106 million-8.8%
130Hydrogen, rare gases$105.2 million+2%
131Swine meat$98.7 million+10.1%
132Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$98.2 million-12.6%
133Natural sands$93.5 million+22.9%
134Electrical machinery$92.7 million-17.2%
135Bovine/equine leather$92 million+15.8%
136Other organic cleaning preparations$91.4 million+6.3%
137Sowing seeds, fruits, spores$91.2 million-18.4%
138Margarine$91 million+10.8%
139Essential oils$88 million+45%
140Newsprint (rolls or sheets)$87.8 million+82.1%
141Piston engines$87.7 million-52.7%
142Ammonia$85.8 million-12.8%
143Titanium ores, concentrates$85.7 million+35.7%
144Butter$84.9 million-24.9%
145Sawn wood$84.1 million+8.1%
146Soap, organic surface-active products$82.1 million+25%
147Apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums$82 million+4.2%
148Air or vacuum pumps$81.7 million-9.6%
149Radar, radio communication items$81.5 million+0.9%
150Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$81.1 million+14.4%
151Hair preparations$80.6 million+16.1%
152 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $79.1 million+7.6%
153Regulate/control instruments$78.3 million+25.1%
154Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$78.3 million+2.3%
155High-voltage switches, fuses$78.1 million+1.7%
156Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms$77.7 million+12.3%
157Sugar (cane or beet)$77.6 million+16.7%
158Personal toilet/shaving preparations, deodorants$77.5 million+27.1%
159Pumice stone, emery, corundum, garnet$76.3 million+2.9%
160Electric water heaters, hair dryers$75.9 million+17.6%
161Lenses, prisms, mirrors$75.6 million+18.9%
162Prepared cereal foods$75.5 million+19.9%
163Propylene/olefin polymers$74.9 million+75.5%
164Miscellaneous engines, motors$74.1 million-36.1%
165Rubber tires (new)$72.5 million+12.9%
166Carrots, turnips, radishes$72.5 million+9.3%
167Sorghum grain$72.4 million-55.4%
168Lifting/loading machinery$70.4 million-5.7%
169Work trucks$69.7 million-13.4%
170Navigational aids including compasses$68.6 million+4.3%
171Cereal grains (worked)$68.2 million-5.4%
172Uncoated paper for writing/printing$67.7 million-15.7%
173Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$67.3 million+6.8%
174Indistrial preparation machinery$66.7 million+17.5%
175Copper tube/pipe fittings$64.1 million+24.3%
176Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$63.8 million+75.1%
177Other diagnostic/lab reagents$63.7 million-1.5%
178Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$62.7 million-9.2%
179Wrist/pocket watches (precious metal case)$62.4 million+5.4%
180Ethyl alcohol$62.1 million+27%
181Liquid/gas checking instruments$60.8 million+31.9%
182Tractors$58.8 million+27.7%
183Sports equipment$58.8 million+5.9%
184Electric motors, generators$58.6 million+29%
185Worn clothing$58.2 million+8.9%
186Miscellaneous furniture$58 million+3.6%
187Derricks, cranes$57.9 million-57.6%
188Molasses (from sugar extraction or refining)$57.7 million+3.5%
189Integrated circuits/microassemblies$57.6 million-4%
190Cases, handbags, wallets$57.4 million+19.3%
191Peptones, other protein substances$57.2 million-15%
192Miscellaneous animal products$56.9 million+49%
193Hand-drawn paintings, drawings$56.9 million+34.6%
194Interchangeable hand/machine tools$56.8 million+15.4%
195Lead waste, scrap$56.2 million+48.6%
196Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$55.9 million-3.3%
197Vulcanized rubber items$55.7 million+0.7%
198Poultry meat$54.8 million+28.6%
199Anti-knock/oxidation/gum inhibitors$54.7 million+16.9%
200Whey$53.7 million+19%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$212.4 billion or 92.5% by value for all products exported from the Land Down Under during 2017.

See also Australia’s Top 10 Imports, Australia’s Top Trading Partners and Australia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 1, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 1, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 1, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 1, 2018

Wikipedia, Australia. Accessed on August 1, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Australia. Accessed on August 1, 2018

Zepol’s Company summary highlights by country. Accessed on August 24, 2015