From a global perspective, Australia shipped US$191.2 billion worth of products worldwide during 2015. That figure represents roughly 1% of overall exports estimated at $18.686 trillion.
From a continental perspective, 78.3% of Australia’s total exports by value in 2015 were delivered to Asian trade partners.
North American importers purchased 6.2% of Australian shipments while 5.7% worth arrived in European countries.
At 1.3%, the smallest portion of Australian exports were bought by African importers.
Australia’s Top Import Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Australia’s top import partners, countries that imported the most Australian shipments by dollar value during 2015. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Australian exports.
- China: US$61.8 billion (32.3% of total Australian exports)
- Japan: $30.3 billion (15.9%)
- South Korea: $13.4 billion (7%)
- United States: $10.3 billion (5.4%)
- India: $8.2 billion (4.3%)
- New Zealand: $6.3 billion (3.3%)
- Singapore: $5.3 billion (2.8%)
- Taiwan: $4.8 billion (2.5%)
- Indonesia: $3.7 billion (1.9%)
- Malaysia: $3.5 billion (1.8%)
- Thailand: $3.3 billion (1.7%)
- United Kingdom: $2.8 billion (1.5%)
- Vietnam: $2.7 billion (1.4%)
- United Arab Emirates: $2.6 billion (1.3%)
- Hong Kong: $2.5 billion (1.3%)
Over fourth-fifths (84.4%) of Australian exports in 2015 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Only three countries increased their import purchases from Australia from 2010 to 2015: Vietnam (up in value 25.6%), United Arab Emirates (up 12%) and United States (up 4.7%).
Leading the decliners was United Kingdom, lowering its Australian imports in value by -63.9%.
Similarly, Aussie exports to the following countries also significantly dropped: Thailand (down -52.7%), Taiwan (down -48.8%), India (down -47.8%), South Korea (down -44.1%) and Japan (down -41.8%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export countrydoesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
In 2015, Australia incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- United States: -US-$12.3 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2015)
- Germany: -$7.9 billion
- Thailand: -$6.9 billion
- Malaysia: -$4.1 billion
- Italy: -$3.8 billion
- United Kingdom: -$2.5 billion
- France: -$2.4 billion
- Switzerland: -$1.8 billion
- Singapore: -$1.8 billion
- Ireland: -$1.5 billion
Among Australia’s import partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, only Australia’s deficit with Thailand increased from 2011 to 2015 rising by 299.7%.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Australia’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Australia to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
In 2015, Australia incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- China: US$15.5 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2015)
- Japan: $15.5 billion
- India: $4.6 billion
- South Korea: $2.4 billion
- Hong Kong: $1.5 billion
- Saudi Arabia: $1.3 billion
- Taiwan: $1.3 billion
- United Arab Emirates: $733.9 million
- Bahrain: $627.7 million
- Philippines: $619.3 million
Among Australia’s import partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, only Australian surpluses with Bahrain (up 967.5%) and Saudi Arabia (up 9.3%) expanded from 2011 to 2015.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Australia’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Australia to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Australian Import Partners
Thirty-six Australian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a selected sample of the major Aussie companies that Forbes included:
- BHP Billiton (diversified metals)
- Fortescue Metals Group (iron, steel)
- Woodside Petroleum (oil, gas)
- Amcor (containers, packaging)
- Santos (oil, gas)
- Caltex Australia (oil, gas)
- Orica (diversified metals)
- Newcrest Mining (diversified metals)
According to IMPORTERS.com listings for Australian suppliers, the following are examples of companies that ship products from Australia to its import partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis are products that the Australian business provides.
- Bullys Beef Pty Ltd (beef)
- Cotton Tree Trading Pty Ltd (dairy products)
- Harts Food And Beverages PL (coconut water)
- Logreen Pty Ltd (food additives, vanilla beans)
- Metabolic Food Company (breakfast cereal blends)
- Platinum Direct (premium wines)
- Rasile Global Importers P/L (food, beverages)
- Scorex (meat, poultry)
- Sunnyfresh Grapes Australia (grapes)
- Waverley Australia Pty Ltd (blankets, rugs, quilts)
See also Australia’s Top 10 Imports, Highest Value Australian Import Products and Highest Value Australian Export Products
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 12, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 12, 2016
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on February 12, 2016
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 12, 2016
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Australia Import Export Directory. Accessed on November 22, 2015