Australia’s Top 10 Exports

Australia's Top 10 Exports

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In 2018, Australia’s most valuable exported products were coal, iron ores or concentrates, petroleum gases, gold, aluminum oxide and hydroxide, crude oil, copper ores or concentrates, frozen beef, aluminum then wheat. For more details on the 200 highest value exports, see the searchable data table near the bottom of this article.

The Commonwealth of Australia shipped an overall US$253.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 0.5% increase since 2014 and a 10.5% gain from 2017 to 2018.

Australia exported $158 billion worth of goods during the first 7 months of 2019, up 9.2% compared to the same period one year earlier.

In addition, Australia furnished an estimated $69.2 billion worth of international services during 2018 encompassing about $45.3 billion from travel-related services. The focus of this article is on exported goods.

Given Australia’s population of 23.5 million people, its total $253.8 billion in 2018 exported products translates to roughly $10,800 for every resident in the largest country in the Oceania continent.

Australia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Australian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Australia.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$87.7 billion (34.6% of total exports)
  2. Ores, slag, ash: $59.7 billion (23.5%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $16.1 billion (6.3%)
  4. Meat: $10.2 billion (4%)
  5. Inorganic chemicals: $8.2 billion (3.2%)
  6. Cereals: $4.9 billion (1.9%)
  7. Machinery including computers: $4.8 billion (1.9%)
  8. Aluminum: $3.8 billion (1.5%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.2 billion (1.3%)
  10. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $3.2 billion (1.3%)

Australia’s top 10 exports accounted about three-quarters (79.5%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Australian inorganic chemicals were the top gainer up i by 33.3% from 2017 to 2018.

The second-fastest increase belongs to mineral fuels including oil via its 33.8% gain, propelled by Australia’s expanding international sales of petroleum gases and coal.

The third-strongest improvement was for aluminum (up 22.2%) trailed by Australian exports of meat (up 11.7%).

Two product categories declined from 2017 to 2018 led by cereals (down -25.6%) notably lower global sales for wheat and barley. The other category was ores, slag and ash which slowed -0.7% due to the year-over-year reduction for iron ores and concentrates.

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.

Advantages

Overall Australia generated an $26.5 billion surplus in 2018 up by 216.6% from $8.4 billion one year earlier.

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$58.8 billion (Down by -0.8% since 2017)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $57.4 billion (Up by 30.1%)
  3. Meat: $9.7 billion (Up by 12.6%)
  4. Gems, precious metals: $9.5 billion (Up by 8.7%)
  5. Inorganic chemicals: $7.2 billion (Up by 61.6%)
  6. Cereals: $4.7 billion (Down by -26.7%)
  7. Wool: $2.9 billion (Up by 4%)
  8. Copper: $2 billion (Up by 14.6%)
  9. Aluminum: $1.9 billion (Up by 29.3%)
  10. Cotton: $1.7 billion (Up by 11.6%)

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

Opportunities

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$28.7 billion (Up by 3.9% since 2017)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$27.1 billion (Up by 11.9%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$22.4 billion (Up by 13.8%)
  4. Plastics, plastic articles: -$5.5 billion (Up by 12.4%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: -$5.2 billion (Down by -2.5%)
  6. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$5.1 billion (Up by 8.6%)
  7. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$4.6 billion (Up by 9.5%)
  8. Articles of iron or steel: -$4.4 billion (Up by 23.5%)
  9. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$3.2 billion (Up by 7.1%)
  10. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$3.1 billion (Up by 4.2%)

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.

Companies

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 coal followed by iron ores and concentrates, petroleum gases then gold.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Australia during 2018. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2017.

RankAustralian Export Product2018 Value (US$)Change
1Coal, solid fuels made from coal$47 billion+16%
2Iron ores, concentrates$46.7 billion-5.2%
3Petroleum gases$32.4 billion+58.3%
4Gold (unwrought)$14.2 billion+8.5%
5Aluminum oxide/hydroxide$7.7 billion+33.6%
6Crude oil$5.9 billion+46.8%
7Copper ores, concentrates$4.5 billion+23.3%
8Frozen beef$4 billion+14.1%
9Aluminum (unwrought)$3.2 billion+24%
10Wheat$3.1 billion-33.4%
11Wool (uncarded, uncombed)$3 billion+4.1%
12Sheep or goat meat$2.8 billion+10.6%
13Fresh or chilled beef$2.6 billion+11.2%
14Refined copper, unwrought alloys$2.5 billion+14.1%
15Processed petroleum oils$2.3 billion+24.8%
16Wine $2.2 billion+5.8%
17Zinc ores, concentrates$1.9 billion+41.4%
18Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)$1.8 billion+11.4%
19Medication mixes in dosage$1.7 billion+3.6%
20Aircraft parts$1.4 billion+1.1%
21Barley$1.4 billion-14.1%
22Zinc (unwrought)$1.3 billion+0.1%
23Vermiculite, perlite, other mineral substances$1.2 billion+17.5%
24Precious metal ores, concentrates$1.1 billion-9.4%
25Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust$1.1 billion+14.2%
26Live bovine cattle$1.1 billion+21.9%
27Other food preparations$1.1 billion-18.1%
28Blood fractions (including antisera)$1.1 billion+44.8%
29Phone system devices including smartphones $990 million-10.5%
30Aluminum ores, concentrates$976.9 million+15.7%
31Rape/colza seeds$959.6 million-24.3%
32Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$885.8 million+19%
33Orthopedic appliances$797.6 million+5.4%
34Cheese, curd$760 million+5.3%
35Dried shelled vegetables$756.2 million-66.4%
36Iron or steel scrap$747.4 million+18.2%
37Lead (unwrought)$737.6 million-14.8%
38Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$694.2 million-3.5%
39Miscellaneous nuts$665.1 million+13.4%
40Computers, optical readers$662.8 million+6.9%
41Crustaceans (including lobsters)$650.2 million+5%
42Red meat offal$639 million+8.9%
43Automobile parts/accessories$619 million-0.9%
44Nickel (unwrought)$612.1 million#DIV/0!
45Coins$605.7 million+16.2%
46Other coloring matter, luminophores$604.3 million+7.8%
47Mechano-therapy appliances$603.2 million-10.8%
48Rough wood$548.9 million+6.8%
49Provitamins, vitamins$535.9 million+367.7%
50Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$523.8 million-2.4%
51Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$452.9 million+11.5%
52Aluminum waste, scrap$446.8 million+12.2%
53Lead ores, concentrates$438.1 million+29.4%
54Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$417.3 million+1.8%
55Machinery parts$393 million+10.5%
56Uncoated kraft paper$387.2 million+5%
57Hay, alfalfa, clover$355.3 million-2.4%
58Jewelry$350.8 million-13.5%
59Miscellaneous machinery$340.2 million-9.8%
60Fresh or dried citrus fruit$339.1 million-4.3%
61Grapes (fresh or dried)$326.1 million+6%
62Liquid pumps and elevators$300.2 million+4.2%
63Copper waste, scrap$285.6 million+15%
64Malt$282.5 million+9.5%
65Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$279.6 million+9.3%
66Sheep/lamb rawhides, skins$278.7 million-3.2%
67Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$268.7 million+42.9%
68Fats of cows, sheep, goats$265.7 million-8.2%
69Bovine/equine rawhides, skins$254.3 million-19.6%
70Cars$247.1 million-66.3%
71Precious metal waste, scrap$243.1 million-51.7%
72Rice$237.6 million+35.2%
73Aircraft, spacecraft$229.4 million+114.9%
74Animal guts, bladders, stomachs$226 million+32.6%
75Physical/chemical analysis tools$224.7 million+11.8%
76Taps, valves, similar appliances$217.7 million+9.2%
77Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$217.2 million+34.5%
78Sort/screen/washing machinery$215 million-3.1%
79Cobalt$214.5 million+25.6%
80Inedible meat flour$214 million+28.8%
81Table games, bowling equipment$213.6 million+1.4%
82Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream$213.2 million+10.1%
83Fertilizers$205.7 million+19.7%
84Wheat gluten$205 million+10.5%
85Metal-containing ash, residues$203.7 million+25.2%
86Uncoated paper$201.6 million+30.2%
87Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$197.9 million+6.6%
88Computer parts, accessories$196.3 million-4.9%
89Nickel ores, concentrates$193.7 million-9.2%
90Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks$187.7 million+18279.1%
91Lower-voltage switches, fuses$187.4 million+22%
92Paper/paperboard waste, scrap$183.9 million-20.1%
93Salts, pure sodium chloride$178.3 million+5365.8%
94Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$173 million+0.1%
95TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$170.3 million+20.1%
96Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$159.1 million-3.7%
97Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$153 million+5.5%
98Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$152.4 million+5.9%
99Rape/colza/mustard oil$152 million-0.1%
100Survey/hydro/weather instruments$148.4 million+14.1%
101Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$147.9 million+3.3%
102Insulated wire/cable$146.9 million-7.2%
103Electrical converters/power units$146.9 million+12.8%
104Miscellaneous iron or steel items$146 million+10.8%
105Piston engines$145.5 million+66%
106Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$140.8 million-10.1%
107Silver (unwrought)$138 million-51.1%
108Microphones/headphones/amps$137.9 million+14.2%
109Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$136.9 million-21.2%
110Printed books, brochures$136 million-15.2%
111Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$135.8 million+25.4%
112Live horses, mules$135.2 million+1.7%
113Piston engine parts$129.9 million+7.6%
114Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$129.5 million-10.1%
115Other measuring/testing machines$128.2 million+8.5%
116Moluscs$127.2 million-3.4%
117Live sheep, goats$126.4 million-34.3%
118Turbo-jets$126.4 million-3.3%
119Trucks$126.4 million-3.5%
120Printing machinery$126 million-11.8%
121Tin ores, concentrates$125.4 million-7%
122Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$123.9 million+13.5%
123Whole fish (fresh)$123.5 million-18.1%
124Whole fish (frozen)$123.1 million+16.1%
125Electrical machinery$121.7 million+31.3%
126Apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums$119.3 million+45.5%
127Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$116.9 million+6.5%
128Sorghum grain$116.2 million+60.4%
129Miscellaneous plastic items$111.8 million+0.9%
130Hydrogen, rare gases$109.4 million+4.1%
131Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$109 million+1.8%
132Sauces, mixed condiments, seasonings$107.5 million-3.7%
133Organic surface-active goods, soap$104.5 million+27.3%
134Other organic cleaning preparations$102.7 million+12.3%
135Temperature-change machines$102.6 million-5.9%
136Unrecorded sound media$102.4 million-4.3%
137Natural sands$101.5 million+8.6%
138Miscellaneous engines, motors$100.5 million+35.6%
139Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$98.2 million-9.5%
140Newsprint (rolls or sheets)$97 million+10.5%
141Radar, radio communication items$97 million+19%
142Industrial preparation machinery$96.1 million+44.2%
143Personal toilet/shaving preparations, deodorants$94.5 million+21.9%
144Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$92.9 million-5.4%
145Swine meat$92.4 million-6.4%
146Margarine$92.4 million+1.5%
147Butter, ghee, other milk fats$91.3 million+7.5%
148Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$90.8 million+11.9%
149Navigational aids, compasses$90.6 million+32%
150Bars, rods, wire$90.1 million+71%
151Air or vacuum pumps$89 million+8.9%
152Electric water heaters, hair dryers$87 million+14.7%
153Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$86 million+9.8%
154Niobium/zirconium ores, concentrates$85.7 million+61.8%
155 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $85.4 million+7.9%
156Move/grade/scrape/boring machinery$84.2 million-31.6%
157Hair preparations$84.1 million+4.3%
158Precious metal compounds$83.6 million+26860%
159Regulate/control instruments$82.7 million+5.5%
160Sowing seeds, fruits, spores$81.2 million-10.9%
161Bovine/equine leather$79.2 million-14%
162Medication mixes not in dosage$78.1 million+129.9%
163Titanium ores, concentrates$76.9 million-10.2%
164Lenses, prisms, mirrors$76.1 million+0.6%
165Starches, inulin$75.7 million+45.7%
166Essential oils$75.3 million-14.4%
167Tractors$74.8 million+27.1%
168Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms$74.7 million-3.9%
169Carrots, turnips, radishes, beetroot$74.3 million+2.6%
170High-voltage switches, fuses$74.1 million-5.1%
171Roasted cereal prepared foods$73.2 million-3%
172Cereal grains$72.9 million+6.9%
173Integrated circuits/microassemblies$72.4 million+25.7%
174Ammonia$72 million-16.1%
175Hydrazine, inorganic salts$71.6 million+46.5%
176Pumice stone, emery, other abrasives$71.3 million-6.6%
177Liquid/gas checking instruments$68.7 million+13.1%
178Sawn wood$67.9 million-19.2%
179Wrist/pocket watches (precious metal case)$66.9 million+7.2%
180Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)$66.8 million+27%
181Copper tube/pipe fittings$66.6 million+3.8%
182Uncoated paper for writing/printing$66.4 million-2%
183Rubber tires (new)$65.9 million-9.1%
184Lifting/loading machinery$65.3 million-7.3%
185Other diagnostic/lab reagents$63.9 million+0.4%
186Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$63.8 million-5.2%
187Sports equipment$63.7 million+8.4%
188Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$63.7 million-0.2%
189Interchangeable hand/machine tools$63.5 million+11.8%
190Breathing appliances, gas masks$62.9 million+52.8%
191Miscellaneous furniture$62.1 million+7.2%
192Miscellaneous animal products$62.1 million+9.1%
193Lead waste, scrap$62 million+10.3%
194Cases, handbags, wallets$61.2 million+6.7%
195Worn clothing$61 million+4.8%
196Hand-drawn paintings, drawings$59.7 million+4.9%
197Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$59 million+12.2%
198Oil seeds$58.8 million-46.5%
199Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$58.3 million+4.3%
200Other machine parts, accessories$57.7 million+23.1%


These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$236.5 billion or 93.2% by value for all products exported from the Land Down Under during 2018.

The latest available country-specific data shows that 68.3% of products exported from Australia were bought by importers in: China (29.2% of the global total), Japan (10.3%), South Korea (5.4%), India (4%), United States (3.6%), Hong Kong (3.1%), New Zealand (2.8%), Taiwan (2.6%), Singapore (1.9%), Thailand (1.9%), Malaysia (1.8%) and Indonesia (1.7%).

In macroeconomic terms, Australia’s total exported goods represent 19.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($1.318 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to repeat that Australia also provided $69.2 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 5.2% of GDP in PPP.

Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Australia’s unemployment rate was 5.2% at July 2019 down from 5.3% one year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

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

Australia’s capital city is Canberra.

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

Research Sources:
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on September 13, 2019

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 13, 2019

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 13, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 13, 2019

Wikipedia, Australia. Accessed on September 13, 2019

Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on September 13, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Australia. Accessed on September 13, 2019

Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on September 13, 2019

World’s Richest Countries, Targeted research > Enriching insights > Global opportunities (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 13, 2019

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