Australia recorded a smaller-than-expected trade deficit of $203 million in April, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The April figure, which represented a $1.1 billion reduction on the revised March trade deficit, came from a 3 per cent month-on-month increase in exports, to $26.1 billion, and a 1 per cent fall in imports, to $26.3 billion.
Strong growth in iron ore and coal export shipments contributed to a 5 per cent increase in resources exports, to $13.1 billion, while the value of rural exports was 3 per cent higher at $2.9 billion.
Services exports rose 1 per cent, or $30 million, with travel services up 1 per cent.
The latest data mean Australia's two-way merchandise trade reached a record $511.2 billion for the 12 months to the end of April this year.
Merchandise exports to Australia's trading partners in East Asia — including China, Japan, Korea and the ASEAN nations — rose 11 per cent, to $186.6 billion, over the year.
Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson said the latest figures were further evidence of the strength of the Australian economy, coming in the same week in which March quarterly GDP growth was posted at 1.3 per cent.
"This is strong export performance in the face of continued weak global demand and financial turbulence," Dr Emerson said.
"The figures once again show why Australia's economic integration with Asia has been a great investment.
"Prime Minister Gillard's Asian Century White Paper project builds on this already solid platform to lock in Australia's economic strength," Dr Emerson said.
Capital goods imports rose 2 per cent, to $5.8 billion, for the month. The increase was driven by increases in machinery and industrial equipment imports, up 7 per cent to $1.8 billion.
This reflected ongoing investment to boost Australia's productive capacity, Dr Emerson said.
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