Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)
The price of iron ore may be going through the roof, but it didn’t stop Australia shipping out a record quantity of the red metal in March.
Australia recorded a goods trade surplus of $8.5 billion in March, according to preliminary figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.
Both exports and imports rose 15 per cent in the month.
“Iron ore is the foundation of Australia’s export strength, accounting for 39 per cent of all March exports,” ABS head of international statistics Sean Crick said.
A record $14 billion of iron ore was exported in March, up $2.5 billion from February.
Iron ore shipments to China rose by $1.3 billion to $10.1 billion in the month.
The iron ore price struck a record $US193.85 per tonne on Tuesday, overtaking the previous high set in 2011.
It will be a bonus for the federal budget in terms of revenue when Treasury had predicted an iron ore price of $US55 per tonne in the mid-year budget review released in December.
The 2021/22 budget will be handed down on May 11.
The ABS said copper ore exports also rose to $745 million, a rise of $286 million, and the third-highest export month on record.
The rise in imports was led by an 117 per cent surge in gold goods, a 21 per cent rise in petroleum and 10 per cent rise in road vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Morrison government is making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to start exporting into new markets.
It is simplifying rules for businesses to access grants by cutting red tape, such as simplifying applications through an online portal and extending the grant period to two to three years rather than annually.
“Australia is a trading nation, and the export of our high-quality goods and services supports jobs and businesses in our country,” Trade Minister Dan Tehan said in a statement.
“Our government is supporting Australian businesses to compete and succeed internationally.”