HSC Economic TextBook: Topic 2 Summaries

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Australia's trade and financial flow

Composition of trade the type of goods and services exported and imported

Direction of trade the countries with which Australia trades

Trends in Australia's Trade Patterns

Trade has always represented a high proportion of Australia's economic activity. This is because Australia has always had products that are in demand elsewhere. It is also partly because Australia has needed to trade in order to obtain new technology and items that ate not produced in Australia because of its relatively small population size.

The changing direction of trade (the countries with which Australia trades)

In the 1950s Australia mainly traded with the UK and other European countries. In subsequent decades, Australian's trade pattern shifted and Japan becomes the major buyer of Australian exports. More recently, other North East Asian countries and the ASEAN countries have become increasingly important as export market. Two reasons for the change are:

- The decision of the UK to join the EU in the 1960s.

Once the UK joined the European trading bloc, it was required to impose the same barriers to trade with Australia, in effect giving a preference to trade from European countries, Australia quickly lost many of its traditional export markets in the UK

- As Australian exporters found it increasingly hard to gain access to European markets, there was a shift in the focus of exporters to other areas particularly in North East Asian and ASEAN countries for trade opportunities where economic growth rates were the highest in the world. eg Australian firm BHP found a huge steel market in China.

The composition of trade (the type of goods and services exported and imported)

The traditional focus of Australian exporting has been primary industries, where Australia was perceived to have the greatest comparative advantage. Australia has exported high...