That dollar amount reflects a 57.6% increase from $254.5 billion during 2018.
From 2021 to 2022, the overall value of goods exported from Australia gained 16.1% compared to $345.6 billion in 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the Australian dollar depreciated by -7.7% against the US dollar since 2018 and declined by -8.3% from 2021 to 2022. Australia’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers that pay in American currency.
Australia’s biggest export products by value in 2022 were iron ores and concentrates, coal and solid fuels made from coal, petroleum gases, gold and wheat. In aggregate, those 5 major exports account for 64.8% of overall exports sales from Australia. That relatively large percentage belies a relatively concentrated range of exported goods.
Australia is a world leader for exporting iron, coal and petroleum gases.
Australia’s Best International Trade Customers
The latest available country-specific data shows that 70.8% of products exported from Australia were bought by importers in: mainland China (35.6% of Australia’s global total), Japan (7.5%), South Korea (5.2%), India (5.1%), United States of America (4%), Taiwan (2.8%), New Zealand (2.7%), Vietnam (2.2%), Indonesia (also 2.2%), Malaysia (1.8%), Hong Kong (1.7%) and Singapore (1.3%).
From a continental perspective, 82.7% of Australia exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 6.4% were sold to European importers. Australia shipped another 5% worth of goods to North America.
Smaller percentages went to Oceania (3.9%) led by New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, Africa (1.1%) then Latin America (0.96%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Given Australia’s population of 26 million people, its total $401.1 billion in 2022 exported products translates to roughly $15,400 for every resident in the largest country in the Oceania continent. That dollar amount is higher than the per-capita average of $13,400 in 2021.
Many people overlook the geographic fact that Australia is a sovereign nation located in the Southern Hemisphere comprised of the Australian continental mainland plus Tasmania and many smaller islands.
Australia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Australian global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Australia.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$158.7 billion (39.6% of total exports)
- Ores, slag, ash: $102.6 billion (25.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: $19.4 billion (4.8%)
- Cereals: $13.8 billion (3.4%)
- Meat: $12 billion (3%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $8.5 billion (2.1%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $7.2 billion (1.8%)
- Oil seeds: $6.1 billion (1.5%)
- Aluminum: $5.1 billion (1.3%)
- Machinery including computers: $5 billion (1.2%)
Australia’s top 10 exports accounted for well over four-fifths (84.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Salt, sulphur, stone and cement was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 458.3% since 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was oil seeds which rose 98.1%.
Australia’s shipments of mineral fuels including oil posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 73% year over year.
The leading decliner among Australia’s top 10 export categories was ores, slag and ash which fell -22.2%, dragged down by lower sales of iron and copper 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.
Products Driving Australia’s Best Trade Surpluses
Overall Australia generated a $96.6 billion surplus in 2022 up by 84.9% from $52.3 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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$112.5 billion (Up by 70.7% since 2021)
- Ores, slag, ash: $102 billion (Down by -22.1%)
- Cereals: $13.6 billion (Up by 37.6%)
- Meat: $11.4 billion (Up by 3.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: $11.4 billion (Down by -12.6%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $7.8 billion (Up by 698.4%)
- Oil seeds: $5.7 billion (Up by 106.7%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $4.9 billion (Down by -10.8%)
- Copper: $3.1 billion (Up by 11.5%)
- Cotton: $2.9 billion (Up by 104.1%)
Australia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum gases and, to a lesser extent, crude oil. In turn, these cashflows indicate Australia’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil product category.
Products Causing Australia’s Worst Trade Deficits
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.
- Machinery including computers: -US$34.3 billion (Up by 7% since 2021)
- Vehicles: -$34.3 billion (Up by 7.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$25.9 billion (Up by 5.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$10.5 billion (Up by 25.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$6.8 billion (Up by 6.5%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$5.75 billion (Down by -0.5%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$5.7 billion (Up by 13.9%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$5.4 billion (Up by 2%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$4 billion (Up by 7.3%)
- Other chemical goods: -$3.9 billion (Up by 69.4%)
Australia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery including computers, notably turbo-jets, machinery parts and centrifuges including centrifugal dryers.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Australia’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market, but also represent key opportunities for Australia to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations.
Examples of Australian Export Companies
Listed below are some of the larger international trade players for Australia.
- Amcor (containers, packaging)
- BHP Billiton (diversified metals)
- CSL Limited (biotech)
- Fortescue Metals Group (iron, steel)
- Newcrest Mining (diversified metals)
- Orica (diversified metals)
- Santos (oil, gas)
- Woodside Petroleum (oil, gas)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are also examples of Australian exporters.
- Australia Meat Holdings (bovine meat, offal)
- Elektromotive Australia (bicycles, motorcycles)
- Maersk Logistics Australia (wine, malt beer)
- Spiral Guard Australia (plastic items, tubes/pipes/hoses, plates/sheets/film/foil)
Searchable List of Australia’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Australia during 2022. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2021.
|Rank||Australia's Export Product||2021 Value (US$)||Change|
|1||Iron ores, concentrates||$116,976,417,000||+49.3%|
|2||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$43,609,440,000||+33.3%|
|8||Copper ores, concentrates||$5,838,882,000||+26.6%|
|11||Sheep or goat meat||$3,379,412,000||+24.1%|
|12||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$3,253,816,000||+36.4%|
|13||Fresh or chilled beef||$2,980,824,000||+8.7%|
|14||Wool (uncarded, uncombed)||$2,559,000,000||+61%|
|15||Processed petroleum oils||$2,314,548,000||+48.9%|
|19||Zinc ores, concentrates||$1,890,628,000||+38.2%|
|21||Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)||$1,478,449,000||+376.3%|
|22||Precious metal ores, concentrates||$1,476,519,000||+16.8%|
|23||Dried shelled vegetables||$1,444,147,000||+58%|
|25||Phone system devices||$1,237,125,000||+13%|
|26||Medication mixes in dosage||$1,232,980,000||-24.7%|
|28||Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream||$1,074,798,000||+54.4%|
|29||Live bovine cattle||$1,056,294,000||-6.9%|
|30||Aluminum ores, concentrates||$1,034,608,000||-3.1%|
|31||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$1,019,081,000||-40.8%|
|32||Iron or steel scrap||$980,184,000||+57.7%|
|34||Red meat offal||$855,942,000||+30.2%|
|36||Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust||$817,143,000||+16%|
|40||Other food preparations||$751,071,000||-6.5%|
|41||Computers, optical readers||$738,563,000||+13.7%|
|43||Lead ores, concentrates||$696,088,000||+24.2%|
|44||Miscellaneous parts, accessories||$678,523,000||+28.8%|
|45||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$662,133,000||-18.9%|
|46||Other coloring matter, luminophores||$660,601,000||+36.8%|
|47||Aluminum waste, scrap||$647,912,000||+80.5%|
|48||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$628,194,000||+16.1%|
|49||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$538,478,000||+5%|
|50||Hay, alfalfa, clover||$532,997,000||+32.5%|
|52||Copper waste, scrap||$492,336,000||+83.9%|
|53||Bovine, sheep, goat fats||$485,485,000||+60.5%|
|55||Nickel ores, concentrates||$444,163,000||+47.8%|
|57||Grapes (fresh or dried)||$403,041,000||-14.9%|
|58||Uncoated kraft paper||$373,793,000||+26.1%|
|60||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$355,342,000||+7.2%|
|62||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$327,835,000||+32%|
|63||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$313,972,000||-21.2%|
|64||Whole fish (fresh)||$310,807,000||+32.1%|
|66||Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream||$304,494,000||+21.8%|
|67||Liquid pumps and elevators||$299,398,000||+26.2%|
|71||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$271,699,000||+12.9%|
|74||Metal-containing ash, residues||$255,195,000||+8.1%|
|75||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$249,782,000||+40.6%|
|76||Tin ores, concentrates||$247,405,000||+103.9%|
|77||Sheep/lamb rawhides, skins||$238,637,000||+41.7%|
|78||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$238,105,000||+13.8%|
|80||Paper/paperboard waste, scrap||$233,213,000||+74.6%|
|81||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$227,636,000||+7.8%|
|84||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$217,208,000||+23.5%|
|87||Computer parts, accessories||$202,858,000||+22.4%|
|89||Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels||$200,796,000||-5.1%|
|91||Electrical converters/power units||$190,062,000||+26.8%|
|92||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$188,509,000||+87.8%|
|93||Table games, bowling equipment||$187,607,000||+11.8%|
|95||Bovine/equine rawhides, skins||$179,964,000||+44.4%|
|97||Animal guts, bladders, stomachs||$167,428,000||+25.2%|
|98||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$167,036,000||+19.4%|
|100||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$162,554,000||+40.4%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$367.9 billion or 91.7% by value for all products exported from the Land Down Under during 2022.
In macroeconomic terms, Australia’s total exported goods represent 24.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($1.615 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars) compared to 24.2% one year earlier. Albeit based on a short timeframe, those metrics seem to indicate a relatively increasing impact of international trade on Australia’s economy.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Australia’s unemployment rate averaged 3.644% for 2022, down from an average 5.092% in 2021 according to International Monetary Fund statistics.
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
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