China's share of Australia's merchandise exports hit a record high in 2020

Data: International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia

You can access data here: Link

According to the ABS: “Merchandise trade statistics on an international merchandise trade basis are compiled from information submitted by exporters and importers or their agents to the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs). Adjustments for coverage, timing and valuation are made to international merchandise trade data to convert them to a balance of payments basis. The services data are sourced from the quarterly Survey of International Trade in Services and a range of administrative data and indicator series.”

The Trend

Before I start, just a reminder that you can use our app called Australia - International Trade in Goods and Services here to explore the trends of imports and exports across a long period of time and many categories.

The first figure shows the monthly trend for merchandise exports to China over the last four years. As the figure shows, the pandemic seems to have intially led to an increase in exports to China, however, the trade tensions between China and Australia led to a decline in value of exports in the second half of 2020.

Now, let’s look at this value out of total merchandise exports. As the figure shows, as the pandemic started, the combined effect of an increase in exports to China and a decline in exports from the rest of the world led to a jump in the share of total merchandise exports to China. However, the gap between 2020 and prior years declined, potentially due to trade tensions between Australia and China.

Overall, if we again look at the volume, there was a minor decline in the customs value of exports to China in 2020, however, if you look the second figure, despite this decline, share of Australia’s merchandise exports going to China actually increased in 2020.