Australia’s monthly trade surplus narrowed in July as exports of natural resources such as gold, coal and iron ore fell while imports climbed.
The windfall was A$8 billion ($5 billion), compared with estimates for a A$10 billion gain and follows a downwardly revised A$10.3 billion in June, Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed Thursday. Overall exports declined 2%, while imports advanced 3% in the month.
Thursday’s data showed metal ores and minerals, which includes iron ore, edged down 0.7%%, while coal, coke and briquettes slipped 3.1%. Other mineral fuels, which includes liquefied natural gas, declined 3.2%.
Australia has posted monthly trade surpluses since January 2018, underpinned by sales of iron ore and natural gas to the rising economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The export windfall will see the nation’s budget return to an annual surplus for the first time in 15 years.
Demand for Australian goods has been driven by top trading partner China with its strong appetite for iron ore and coal. Trade in some other commodities resumed recently after ties thawed between Beijing and Canberra following a political dispute.
Just last week, Australia sent its first shipment of barley to China after Beijing scrapped tariffs and there is optimism that restrictions on other products including wine will be removed too.
Yet China’s unfolding housing crisis is clouding the outlook for Australian overseas shipments as the world’s second-largest economy slows.
Thursday’s data showed travel exports slid 1.7% in July as a recovery in inbound tourism and international student arrivals that began earlier this year showed signs of fading.
Tourism related services imports jumped 3% from a month earlier, as Australians headed abroad, particularly to Europe for the summer.