Two Charts That Show The Unbalanced Nature Of Australia's Merchandise Trade

Fox Photos

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) released a great summary of Australia’s trade data in 2013 Friday.

Who we traded with, what we traded, how much in volume and price terms – for both exports and imports.

It’s an excellent summary but most of the information will be well-known.

What stood out in the report, however, was the absolute mismatch between the level of processing and transformation between what we export (largely unprocessed with low levels of transformation) and what we import (largely elaborately transformed and/or processed).

It means that when it comes to the trade of goods, what Australia exports is at the bottom end of the value or production train while what we import is at the top end. Clearly Australia has a huge opportunity to increase processing and move up the value chain but for now our trade sector’s future is clearly riding in the cargo hold of a bulk ore carrier.

Not entirely unsurprising – but sobering nonetheless.

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