Record breaking year for exports

Shane WrightThe West Australian
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Drought in WA, floods on the east coast and a slowdown in exports of minerals including iron ore will cost the nation $4 billion this year, the nation’s chief commodities forecaster has predicted.

However, Australia is still on track for record commodity exports.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ latest update on the export sector believes the nation will reap $211 billion in 2010-11 from mining and farming.

This is down $3.8 billion on ABARES’ September forecast but would still easily surpass the previous record of $198 billion set in 2008-09.

Last year, commodity exports fell to $167.5 billion because of the global financial crisis.

Iron ore exports are tipped to bring in $50.6 billion, short of the $53.4 billion forecast. Prices, however, are up 119 per cent from 2009.

Metallurgical coal should bring in $32.9 billion and thermal coal exports should fetch $15.7 billion.

Gold exports have also been marked down since September but are still forecast to reach a record $15.6 billion this financial year.

In the farming sector, two major weather events have affect the nation’s major grain producing areas. About $1 billion has been wiped from the gross value of wheat production, down to $5.7 billion from the September forecast of $6.7 billion.

ABARES acting executive director Paul Morris said drought and flood were to blame.

“In addition to expected lower production and export volumes from Western Australia, these downward revisions reflect the impact on grain quality of untimely rain on the wheat crop in the Eastern States, ” he said.

It is not all bad news on the farm.

Total livestock exports are tipped to be up 2.6 percent to $13.7 billion, with higher prices more than offsetting the impact of lower production volumes.

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