Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

D3 / 14 MARCH 2002

Australia's 100 Years of Trade

The dramatic opening up of the Australian economy and diversification of export markets during the last 100 years has delivered real benefits for Australia, according to a new report released today by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Direction of Trade Time Series 2000-01, One Hundred Years of Trade has been prepared by the Department to mark the Centenary of Federation. 

One hundred years ago, Australia relied on the United Kingdom for half of its export income.  Until as recently as the early 1950s, the UK accounted for one third of our exports. 

Fifty years on, it could not be more different.  Australia's exporters now have buyers in more than 230 countries.  In 2000-01, the top destination for Australia's exports was Japan, followed by the USA, Korea, New Zealand, China and Singapore, with no single country accounting for more than 20 per cent of Australia's $120 billion worth of exports.

During the last six years, Australia's exports have grown steeply to countries like the USA (20 per cent per year); China (12 per cent per year); Saudi Arabia (40 per cent per year) and Mexico (30 per cent per year).

The Direction of Trade Time Series 2000-01, One Hundred Years of Trade contains tables and charts showing the value of trade with each of our current top 50 trading partners for each decade of the 20th Century.

It highlights the replacement of Australia's dependence on a narrow range of markets for export income with a wide choice of destinations over the last 100 years, reducing Australia's vulnerability to changing world economic conditions. 

In addition, the publication presents the value and percentage shares of Australia's exports to, and imports from, all of our trading partners and regions in each of the last 20 years.  It includes information on trade balances and where Australia records trade surpluses and deficits.

Copies of Direction of Trade Time Series can obtained from the Market Information and Analysis Section on Ph (02) 6261 3114 or Fax (02) 6261 3321 or by placing orders on the Departments' website at ww.dfat.gov.au/publications/statistics.html.

Media inquiries: Nicole Guihot (02) 6261 1555