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January 2008 trade figures confirm export troubles.



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The Hon Simon Crean MP Minister for Trade

M E D I A R E L E A S E

Media contact: Mr Crean’s Office (David Walker, Media Advisor) 02 6277 7420

or 0407 133 020

Departmental (02) 6261 1555

SC020 6 March 2008

JANUARY 2008 TRADE FIGURES CONFIRM EXPORT TROUBLES

The January trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirm the need to address the slump in Australia’s export growth that has occurred over recent years.

Australia’s January exports were just 5 per cent higher than in January 2007. Imports have grown by 16 per cent over the same period.

That gap left the trade deficit for the month of January at $2.7 billion (seasonally adjusted). This is the 70th consecutive monthly deficit and the second largest on record.

Australia's trade performance over the past decade has been a disappointment. In the seven years since the December quarter 2000, export volumes have grown at an average annual rate of 1.9 per cent, compared with an average annual rate of 6.9 per cent over the preceding seven years. This slowdown in export volumes growth has occurred despite strong world growth over this period.

Today’s trade figures follow the release of Balance of Payments figures on Tuesday showing that Australia’s current account deficit rose to $19.3 billion for the December of quarter of 2007, equivalent to 7 per cent of GDP and another record.

The National Accounts figures released yesterday showed that net exports subtracted 1 percentage point from GDP growth in the last three months of 2007.

It is critical that as part of the economic reform agenda the new Government does all it can to restore Australia’s trade performance.

We need to ensure the Australian economy will be sustainable beyond the resources boom. The Rudd Government is committed to the implementation of a trade policy that will restore strong growth in Australia’s productivity and export volumes.

The comprehensive review of export policies and programs that I announced in February will make recommendations on restoring Australia’s trade performance. Further information about the review is available on my department’s internet site at www.dfat.gov.au/trade/export_review/.

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Media contact: Mr Crean’s Office (David Walker, Media Advisor) 02 6277 7420

or 0407 133 020

Departmental (02) 6261 1555

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