In December, imports soared 6 percent from the previous month to an all-time high of AUD 33.82 billion, as purchases rose for: intermediate and other merchandise goods (9 percent to AUD 10.69 billion), mainly fuels and lubricants (21 percent), parts for transport equipment (11 percent) and processed industrial supplies (2 percent); consumption goods (5 percent to AUD 8.98 billion), mainly textiles, clothing and footwear (8 percent) and consumption goods n.e.s. (7 percent); and capital goods (6 percent to AUD 6.17 billion), mainly machinery and industrial equipment (11 percent) and telecommunications equipment (13 percent). In addition, imports of non-monetary gold jumped by 68 percent to AUD 505 million, while those of services were almost similar from a month earlier at AUD 7.49 billion.
Meanwhile, exports rose at a slower 2 percent to AUD 32.47 billion. Sales of non-rural goods grew 4 percent to AUD 20.06 billion, mainly metal ores and minerals (5 percent), coal, coke and briquettes (7 percent) and other mineral fuels (9 percent). By contrast, exports fell for: rural goods (-4 percent to AUD 3.78 billion), mainly other rural (-13 percent); non-monetary gold (-1 percent to AUD 1.43 billion); and net exports of goods under merchanting (-2 percent to AUD 52 million). Also, exports of services declined 1 percent to AUD 7.15 billion, due to lower travel sales (-1 percent).
Considering full 2017, the trade balance posted a surplus of AUD 11.1 billion, compared with a AUD 13.7 billion deficit in 2016. Exports grew 15 percent to AUD 50.7 billion while imports was up 7 percent to AUD 26 billion.