Australia’s November Trade Deficit Narrows

Australia’s trade deficit narrowed in November as iron ore and farm exports jumped, while imports fell., Bloomberg 1/7/2010 10:15:28 AM

The shortfall narrowed to A$1.7 billion ($1.6 billion) from a revised A$2.08 billion in October, the Bureau of Statistics said in Sydney today.

The strengthening trade balance adds to signs that demand from China for raw materials including iron ore and coal will stoke the nation’s economy this year, adding to 18 straight years of expansion.

Exports fell 2 percent to A$19.3 billion in November, today’s report showed. Still, iron ore shipments and farm exports both rose 5 percent.

Imports dropped 3 percent to A$20.7 billion. Capital goods imports fell 8 percent, while imports of machinery rose 10 percent as miners gear up to meet rising demand for iron ore and coal.

Iron ore shipments from Western Australia’s Port Hedland, the world’s largest bulk exporting port, will double in three years as BHP Billiton Ltd. expands its overseas sales of the steelmaking ingredient, Andre Bush, the city’s Port Authority chief executive officer, said yesterday in an interview.

BHP, the world’s largest mining company, reported record iron-ore production in the September quarter as steel companies resumed output at mills in China, Europe and the U.S.

China, the world’s biggest iron-ore consumer, may buy more iron ore over the next five years than Australia has ever shipped, according to Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second- largest iron-ore exporter.

A surge in demand for exports is also prompting mining companies to boost investment in equipment and mines, according to National Australia’s Henderson.

Australia’s November Trade Deficit Narrows