Nicknamed the Land Down Under, Australia is an island economy that strongly benefits from its close proximity to the vast markets of China and Japan which together represent over 40% of all Australian export sales.
From a global perspective, Australia shipped US$272.4 billion worth of products worldwide during 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 42.5% increase since 2015 and a 7.3% gain from 2018 to 2019.
Applying a continental lens, 79.9% of Australia exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 9.2% were sold to importers in Europe. Australia shipped another 5% worth of goods to North America and fellow Oceania nations led by New Zealand and Papua New Guinea (4.3%). Smaller percentages went to Africa (1%) then Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.6%).
Australia’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Australia’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Australian shipments by dollar value during 2019. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Australian exports.
- China: US$89.2 billion (32.7% of total Australian exports)
- Japan: $24.4 billion (9%)
- South Korea: $13.6 billion (5%)
- United Kingdom: $10.4 billion (3.8%)
- United States: $10 billion (3.7%)
- India: $9 billion (3.3%)
- New Zealand: $7.1 billion (2.6%)
- Taiwan: $6.8 billion (2.5%)
- Hong Kong: $5.3 billion (2%)
- Singapore: $5.3 billion (1.9%)
- Malaysia: $4.6 billion (1.7%)
- Vietnam: $4.2 billion (1.6%)
- Indonesia: $3.7 billion (1.3%)
- Thailand: $2.6 billion (0.9%)
- Germany: $2.1 billion (0.8%)
Approaching three-quarters (72.8%) of Australian exports in 2019 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Leading the year-over-year increases consuming Australian exported goods were the United Kingdom (up 192%), China (up 20.4%), Vietnam (up 14.6%) then Singapore (up 8.7%).
The top decline was -46.9% for Thailand trailed by the -32.1% reduction by Hong Kong.
For the complete listing, see the section Searchable Datalist of Countries Importing Australia’s Exports near the bottom of this article.
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 country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Australia incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- United States: -US$15.1 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2019)
- Germany: -$8 billion
- Thailand: -$7.5 billion
- Italy: -$4.4 billion
- France: -$3.2 billion
- Malaysia: -$3 billion
- Mexico: -$2 billion
- Singapore: -$1.8 billion
- Papua New Guinea: -$1.4 billion
- Spain: -$1.3 billion
Among Australia’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Australian deficits with Thailand (up 24%), Papua New Guinea (up 16.9%) and United States (up 7.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
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.
Overall Australia generated a $58.2 billion surplus in 2019 up by 119.3% from $26.5 billion one year earlier.
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.
Australia incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries.
- China: US$34.6 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2019)
- Japan: $9.5 billion
- India: $5.8 billion
- South Korea: $5.6 billion
- United Kingdom: $5.4 billion
- Hong Kong: $4.9 billion
- Taiwan: $3.5 billion
- New Zealand: $1.7 billion
- Philippines: $1.5 billion
- Mozambique: $348.6 million
Among Australia’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Australian surpluses with China (up 80.9%), Philippines (up 40.2%) and South Korea (up 36.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
In addition, Australia went from a -$1.8 billion deficit trading with the UK in 2018 to a $5.4 billion surplus for 2019.
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 Trading Partners
Thirty-six Australian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. 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 trading 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)
Searchable Datalist of Countries Importing Australia’s Exports
You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icon at the top of any of the columns below. The right-most shows the percentage change in value for each importing country since 2018.
|Rank||Importer||2019 Australian Exports||2018-9|
|18.||Papua New Guinea||$1,477,682,000||-2.5%|
|20.||United Arab Emirates||$1,306,981,000||-0.01%|
|82.||Trinidad and Tobago||$24,752,000||+75.5%|
|100.||US Minor Outlying Is||$12,466,000||-15.3%|
See also Australia’s Top 10 Imports, Australia’s Top 10 Exports and Australia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on February 9, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 9, 2020
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Australia Import Export Directory. Accessed on February 9, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 9, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 9, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 9, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 9, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 9, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on February 9, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Australia. Accessed on January 15, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on February 9, 2020
Zepol’s Company summary highlights by country. Accessed on February 9, 2020