From a global perspective, Australia shipped US$345 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2021. That dollar amount reflects a 50.2% increase since 2017 and a 35.6% acceleration from 2020 to 2021.
Applying a continental lens, 84.3% of Australia exports by value were delivered to countries in Asia while 5.5% were sold to importers in Europe. Australia shipped another 4.8% worth of goods to North America.
Even tinier percentages went to Oceania (3.8%) led by New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, Africa (0.8%) and Latin America (also 0.8%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
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 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Australian exports.
- China: US$115.7 billion (33.5% of total Australian exports)
- Japan: $29.6 billion (8.6%)
- South Korea: $21.8 billion (6.3%)
- India: $12.8 billion (3.7%)
- United States: $12.1 billion (3.5%)
- Taiwan: $9.1 billion (2.6%)
- Singapore: $8.9 billion (2.6%)
- New Zealand: $8.5 billion (2.5%)
- Hong Kong: $7.2 billion (2.1%)
- Vietnam: $7 billion (2%)
- Indonesia: $6.7 billion (1.9%)
- Thailand: $4.4 billion (1.3%)
- Malaysia: $4.1 billion (1.2%)
- United Kingdom: $3.5 billion (1%)
- Germany: $2.7 billion (0.8%)
Under three-quarters (73.7%) of Australian exports in 2021 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
The United Kingdom (down by -65.8%) and United States of America (down -8%) were the only top importers that decreased purchases from Australia from 2020 to 2021.
Among the other 13 countries, gains ranged from a minimum of 3.4% for Germany up to 99.5% for Indonesia and 91.7% for Thailand.
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$13.3 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2021)
- Germany: -$8 billion
- Thailand: -$6.7 billion
- Malaysia: -$5.9 billion
- Italy: -$4.8 billion
- France: -$3.1 billion
- Mexico: -$2.4 billion
- United Kingdom: -$1.9 billion
- Spain: -$1.8 billion
- Ireland: -$1.5 billion
Among Australia’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Australian deficits with Malaysia (up 72.7%), Spain (up 57.4%) and the United States of America (up 26.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
In addition, Australia went from posting a $5.4 billion surplus trading with Britain during 2020 to realizing a -$1.9 billion for 2021.
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.
Australia generated an overall $96.6 billion surplus in 2021 up by 84.9% from $52.3 billion in black ink 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$48 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2021)
- Japan: $14.4 billion
- South Korea: $12.8 billion
- India: $6.8 billion
- Hong Kong: $6.5 billion
- Taiwan: $4.8 billion
- New Zealand: $3.5 billion
- Indonesia: $3.3 billion
- Vietnam: $1.9 billion
- Philippines: $1.3 billion
Among Australia’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Australian surpluses with Indonesia (up 1,385%), Vietnam (up 1,384%) and Japan (up 106.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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 Database of Australia’s Top 100 Trade Partners
By value, the following automated table showcases the 100 biggest buyers of exported products from Australia.
Collectively, the 100 leading trade partners bought $281.6 billion worth of products exported from Australia during 2021. That dollar amount equals 81.6% of total Australian exports.
|Rank||Importer||2021 Australian Exports||2020-1|
|18.||United Arab Emirates||$1,688,601,000||+50.1%|
|22.||Papua New Guinea||$1,264,459,000||+3.4%|
You can change the order for the displayed entries by clicking on the column headings in the table.
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 March 14, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 14, 2022
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Australia Import Export Directory. Accessed on March 14, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 14, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 14, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 14, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 14, 2022
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on March 14, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 14, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Australia. Accessed on March 14, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 14, 2022
Zepol’s Company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 14, 2022