Australia's Exports Are Changing

Business Asia, June 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Australia's Exports Are Changing

If you want to see how much our economy has changed over the past two decades, have a look at our exports says Ross Gittins from the SMH.

There've been big changes in what we export and who we sell it to. Most people are conscious that, since we began opening up our economy to the world in the mid-1980s, we've been importing a lot more stuff. Walk into a supermarket or just the car park--and you see it staring at you.

But while we can see how much we export--it's sitting in other countries' supermarkets and car parks. In fact, however, we're exporting a lot more than we did.

Exports of goods and services now account for about 18 percent of gross domestic product(ion), up from 16 percent in the mid-'80s. They actually got up to 23 percent in 2000, but they've fallen back during the years of our great housing boom. With any luck they'll soon start growing strongly again.

Another thing that's not visible to the naked eye is the changed "composition" of what we export. It will surprise many people that our exports of manufactures have expanded considerably since we began dismantling protection against imports, so that they now account for almost a quarter of our total exports of goods and services.

What's more, about 70 percent of our manufactured exports are "elaborately transformed" as opposed to "simply transformed". That is, they're more sophisticated items, with more value added.

Exports of services--mainly education, business and professional Services and inbound tourism--have also grown strongly over the past 20 years or so, so that they now account for almost a quarter of total exports.

But rural exports haven't grown all that strongly, and their share of total exports has dropped markedly, from almost a third to just over a fifth. Successive droughts haven't helped and nor have weak world prices for agricultural goods.

Minerals and fuels are still mainstay of our export performance but, even so, their share of total exports has slipped to a third.

So whereas people--here and abroad--have always seen us as a country whose exports are dominated by rural and mineral commodities, that's less true than it used to be. Since the mid-'80s, their share of total exports has fallen from two-thirds to just over half.

But as the composition of our exports has changed, so has their "direction"--the countries we send to.

No prize for knowing that, over the past two decades, we've been exporting a lot more to north-east and south-east Asia. It now takes almost half our exports of goods and services.

But as well as Asia's share expanding, there've been big changes in which Asian countries are taking our stuff. For instance, while Japan remains our biggest single export destination, its share has fallen continuously since 1985-86, dropping from 25 to 16 percent.

And while Japan's share has been falling, China has been rising to take its place.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Australia's Exports Are Changing


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?