Record exports to China bolster Aussie trade surplus despite cyclone damage: economists

Updated 2017-06-08 17:26:57 Xinhua

Exports to China helped Australia retain its trade surplus, according to new data released on Thursday, despite the devastating impact of cyclone damage on Australian trade for the month of April.

Australia exported a record-breaking 93 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods to China in the year to April according to Commonwealth Bank analysis, marking a 15 percent lift in imports to China since last year, and accounting for over 30 percent of Australia's total exports.

"China buys a third of Australian exports and around a quarter of our imports come from China, so a healthy Chinese economy is very much in our interests," Commonwealth Bank chief economist Craig James said in a statement.

Ongoing demand from China for Australia's biggest export, iron ore, is set to boost Australia's trade outlook for the coming months, according to ANZ senior economist Jo Masters, which has also been bolstered by a strong growth in farm exports.

"Iron ore exports into China are a significant export category for Australia, as well as many of our other resources that feed into the China economic cycle," Masters told Xinhua.

"So economic growth in China is very important for Australia, particularly in terms of iron ore."

Increased demand from the Chinese market could not have come at a better time for the Australian economy, which faced significant disruption in the wake of a category 4 tropical cyclone, Cyclone Debbie, which hit the state of Queensland in late March.

The Australian trade surplus fell to its lowest point in 6 months in April, which economists have attributed to the natural disaster; however the annual rolling trade surplus remains the biggest the country has experienced since 2012.

Australia recorded a trade surplus of 555 million Australian dollars (419 million U.S. dollars) for the month of April in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data released on Thursday, which fell short of analysts' expectations, who had forecast a surplus of 2 billion Australian dollars.

Much off the drop-off has been attributed to Cyclone Debbie, with wind damage from the cyclone causing billions of dollars worth of damage throughout Queensland, hampering the export trade by 8 percent throughout April, and Masters said the Australian economy is still reeling from the devastation.

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