Australian coal exports soar above iron ore as trade surplus hits record $16 billion

The value of coal exports rose 20.4 percent in May and is up 299 percent in the past year, while LNG exports are up 11.8 percent in the month and are up 118.9 percent in the past year.

“In dollar terms, the value of coal exports exceeded the value of iron ore exports in May for the first time since April 2009,” said Belinda Allen, Commonwealth Bank senior economist.

“Both thermal coal and LNG are both used as energy sources worldwide and sanctions against Russia have a major impact.”

In addition to the strong performance in May, coal export revenues were revised higher for April, up $2.9 billion.

Iron ore exports rose 2.8 percent in May, but fell by 18.5% over the past year. Fears of a global economic downturn and China’s COVID-zero policy have pushed prices down lately.

Iron ore fell 4.3 percent to $107.65 a ton on Wednesday.

“We expect China to reduce steel production later this year, similar to what happened in 2021. As a result, we expect further declines in the price of iron ore from here on,” said Ms Allen.

The resumption of international travel also exacerbates trade data. Exports of travel-related services (offshore tourists) increased by 10.1 percent, but remain about 40 percent from pre-COVID levels.

Imports of travel services (how travel abroad is recorded) rose by 15.6 percent in May, but is only 17 percent from December 2019 levels.

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