Australia’s Top 10 Exports 2020

Australia’s Top 10 Exports 2020

by Flagpictures.orgThe Commonwealth of Australia shipped an overall US$254.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2020. That dollar amount reflects a 34.3% increase since 2016 but a -6.6% drop from 2019 to 2020.

Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Australian dollar depreciated by -8% against the US dollar since 2016 and declined by -1% from 2019 to 2020. Australia’s weaker local money makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars comparatively less expensive for international buyers.

Australia’s biggest export products by value in 2020 were iron, coal, petroleum gases, gold and aluminum. In aggregate, those major exports explain 63.1% of overall exports sales from Australia. That comparatively large percentage indicates a concentrated range of exported goods.

Australia leads the world for exporting iron, coal and petroleum gases.

The latest obtainable country-specific data shows that 85.6% of products exported from Australia were bought by importers in: China (43% of the global total), Japan (9%), United States (6.2%), South Korea (6.2%), United Kingdom (4.9%), India (3.4%), New Zealand (3.3%), Singapore (2.6%), Taiwan (2.6%), Hong Kong (2.2%), Vietnam (2.1%) and Indonesia (1.6%).

From a continental perspective, 78.2% of Australia exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 9.5% were sold to importers in Europe. Australia shipped another 6.7% worth of goods to North America with another 4.3% going to fellow Oceania nations led by New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Smaller percentages went to Africa (0.7%) then Latin America (0.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.

Given Australia’s population of 25.7 million people, its total $254.3 billion in 2020 exported products translates to approximately $9,900 for every resident in the largest country in the Oceania continent.

Many people overlook the fact that Australia is a sovereign nation located in the Southern Hemisphere comprised of the Australian continental mainland plus Tasmania and many smaller islands.

Top 10

The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Australian global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage proportion each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Australia.

  1. Ores, slag, ash: US$91.3 billion (35.9% of total exports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $65.4 billion (25.7%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $19.6 billion (7.7%)
  4. Meat: $10.4 billion (4.1%)
  5. Inorganic chemicals: $5.2 billion (2%)
  6. Machinery including computers: $4.4 billion (1.7%)
  7. Cereals: $3.8 billion (1.5%)
  8. Pharmaceuticals: $3.4 billion (1.4%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.1 billion (1.2%)
  10. Aluminum: $3.1 billion (1.2%)

Australia’s top 10 exports accounted for over four-fifths (82.4%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Ores, slag, ash was the fastest-grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 15.8% year over year since 2019. In second place for improving export sales was cereals which was up by 10.5% led by wheat and barley. Australia’s shipments of gems and precious metals posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 8.5% year over year led by gold and silver.

The leading decliner among Australia’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil which fell -26.4%, weighed down by lower revenues for coal, petroleum gases and oil.

observe that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Australia’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.


Overall Australia generated a $51.5 billion surplus in 2020 down by -11.7% from $58.3 billion one year earlier.

The following types of Australian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or sets exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or sets.

  1. Ores, slag, ash: US$90.7 billion (Up by 15.9% since 2019)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $48.5 billion (Down by -21.4%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $10.9 billion (Down by -4.6%)
  4. Meat: $9.8 billion (Down by -10.3%)
  5. Inorganic chemicals: $4.4 billion (Down by -20%)
  6. Cereals: $3.4 billion (Up by 10.2%)
  7. Copper: $2.1 billion (Down by -11.7%)
  8. Wool: $1.5 billion (Down by -30.5%)
  9. Aluminum: $1.3 billion (Down by -10.9%)
  10. Live animals: $1.2 billion (Down by -10.6%)

Australia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of iron ores, and also for copper, zinc, precious metals and aluminum ores and concentrates. In turn, these cashflows indicate Australia’s strong competitive advantages under the ores, slag and ash product category.


Below are exports from Australia that are negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports show product categories where foreign spending on home country Australia’s goods trail Australian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$26.3 billion (Up by 1.7% since 2019)
  2. Vehicles: -$22.8 billion (Down by -10.1%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$21 billion (Down by -0.3%)
  4. Plastics, plastic articles: -$5.5 billion (Up by 10%)
  5. Pharmaceuticals: -$5.3 billion (Up by 14.8%)
  6. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$5.1 billion (Up by 6.4%)
  7. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$4.5 billion (Up by 4.7%)
  8. Articles of iron or steel: -$3.9 billion (Up by 2.4%)
  9. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$3.2 billion (Down by -0.3%)
  10. Rubber, rubber articles: -$2.9 billion (Up by 0.8%)

    Australia has highly negative net exports and consequently thorough international trade deficits for machinery including computers, notably turbo-jets, machinery parts and centrifuges including centrifugal dryers.

    These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Australia’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market, but also represent meaningful opportunities for Australia to enhance its position in the global economy by focused innovations.


Listed below are some of the larger international trade players for Australia.

  • BHP Billiton (diversified metals)
  • Fortescue Metals Group (iron, steel)
  • Woodside Petroleum (oil, gas)
  • CSL Limited (biotech)
  • Amcor (containers, packaging)
  • Santos (oil, gas)
  • Orica (diversified metals)
  • Newcrest Mining (diversified metals)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are also examples of Australian exporters.

  • Australia Meat Holdings (bovine meat, offal)
  • Spiral Guard Australia (plastic items, tubes/pipes/hoses, plates/sheets/film/foil)
  • Maersk Logistics Australia (wine, malt beer)
  • Elektromotive Australia (bicycles, motorcycles)


Searchable List of Australia’s Most Valuable Export Products

The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-need goods shipped from Australia during 2020. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decline since 2019.

RankAustralia’s Export Product2020 Value (US$)Change1Iron ores, concentrates$78,830,087,000+19.7%2Coal, substantial fuels made from coal$32,477,570,000-26.9%3Petroleum gases$26,972,247,000-25.5%4Gold (unwrought)$17,484,609,000+7.6%5Aluminum oxide/hydroxide$4,831,601,000-18.4%6Copper ores, concentrates$4,628,138,000+8.8%7Crude oil$4,404,694,000-31.9%8Frozen beef$4,078,921,000-17.2%9Fresh or chilled beef$2,739,824,000+1.3%10Sheep or goat meat$2,716,393,000-11.8%11Wheat$2,711,993,000+7.9%12Aluminum (unwrought)$2,581,806,000-7%13perfected copper, unwrought alloys$2,391,709,000-11.5%14Wine$2,141,295,000+2.7%15Blood fractions (including antisera)$1,704,397,000+0.2%16Medication mixes in dosage$1,628,042,000-15.6%17Wool (uncarded, uncombed)$1,575,745,000-30%18Processed petroleum oils$1,557,774,000-13.2%19Zinc ores, concentrates$1,366,044,000-22.4%20Precious metal ores, concentrates$1,276,157,000+26.4%21Aircraft parts$1,179,306,000-19.2%22Live bovine cattle$1,131,579,000-9.4%23Phone system devices$1,099,533,000-6.4%24Aluminum ores, concentrates$1,062,515,000-9.5%25Coins$1,042,703,000+73.4%26Zinc (unwrought)$984,316,000-3.3%27Dried shelled vegetables$913,051,000+31.2%28Barley$910,440,000+25.3%29Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$804,582,000-23.2%30Other food preparations$796,015,000-6.1%31Rape/colza seeds$779,543,000+15.4%32Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust$701,212,000-31.6%33Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$695,313,000+5.2%34Miscellaneous nuts$665,839,000-17.3%35Cheese, curd$663,535,000-3.6%36Red meat offal$656,630,000-6.7%37Vermiculite, perlite$652,144,000-35.6%38Computers, optical readers$649,215,000-5.7%39Automobile parts/accessories$638,365,000-2.7%40Iron or steel fragment$617,689,000-16.9%41rule (unwrought)$609,093,000+14.4%42rule ores, concentrates$563,703,000-16.4%43Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$542,529,000+2.1%44Miscellaneous parts, accessories$530,812,000-4.1%45Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$515,507,000-0.1%46Mechano-therapy appliances$514,909,000-17.8%47Rough wood$512,651,000-3.7%48Other coloring matter, luminophores$477,977,000-13.5%49Grapes (fresh or dried)$440,509,000+2.5%50Hay, alfalfa, clover$401,034,000+4.9%51Crustaceans$398,715,000-36.1%52Provitamins, vitamins$394,756,000-26.1%53Jewelry$368,604,000-10.6%54Machinery parts$361,579,000-16.4%55Aluminum waste, fragment$359,862,000-6.2%56Fresh or dried citrus fruit$340,904,000-10.6%57Malt$319,900,000-9.9%58Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)$312,182,000-71.6%59Meat fats$301,776,000+26.1%60Nickel ores, concentrates$300,725,000-2.2%61Uncoated kraft paper$295,286,000-13.2%62Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$293,339,000-31.6%63Miscellaneous machinery$277,446,000-5.1%64Copper waste, fragment$268,989,000+6.4%65Not concentrated/unsweetened milk, cream$251,812,000+9.4%66Miscellaneous animal satisfy preparations$247,642,000-4%67Turbo-jets$246,288,000+26.7%68Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$241,741,000+7.8%69Whole fish (fresh)$239,471,000+95%70Liquid pumps and elevators$237,158,000-18.4%71Nickel (unwrought)$235,487,000-78.2%72Metal-containing ash, residues$233,825,000+15.5%73Orthopedic appliances$226,112,000-24.7%74Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$210,911,000-20.8%75Taps, valves, similar appliances$210,815,000+0.9%76Microphones/headphones/amps$210,324,000-30.2%77Physical/chemical examination tools$209,465,000-8.6%78Fertilizer mixes$203,269,000+29.3%79Cars$190,271,000-31.9%80Sort/screen/washing machinery$188,977,000-16.5%81Wheat gluten$184,840,000-6.8%82Uncoated paper$183,245,000-9%83Lower-voltage switches, fuses$178,897,000+8.7%84Rape/colza/mustard oil$177,392,000+21.5%85Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$175,432,000-8.2%86Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$168,374,000+35.1%87Sheep/lamb rawhides, skins$168,292,000-21.3%88Table games, bowling equipment$166,711,000-27.4%89Computer parts, accessories$165,687,000-4.4%90Aircraft, spacecraft$163,151,000-57.5%91Cobalt$152,916,000+29.7%92Inedible meat flour$151,593,000-14.4%93Silver (unwrought)$151,155,000+73.3%94Electrical converters/strength units$150,792,000+5.9%95Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$142,314,000-15.1%96Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$140,749,000-0.9%97Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$136,912,000-5.3%98Other measuring/testing machines$133,694,000+1.2%99Insulated wire/cable$133,666,000-3.3%100Piston engine parts$133,326,000-7.5%

These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$237.8 billion or 93.5% by value for all products exported from the Land Down Under during 2020.

In macroeconomic terms, Australia’s total exported goods represent 19.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($1.365 trillion valued in Purchasing strength Parity US dollars) compared to 20% one year earlier. Albeit based on a short timeframe, those metrics seem to indicate a comparatively decreasing impact of international trade on Australia’s economy.

Another meaningful indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Australia’s unemployment rate was 6.6% at December 2020, up from an average 5.144% for 2020 according to the International Monetary Fund.

Australia’s capital city is Canberra.

See also Australia’s Top 10 Imports, Australia’s Top Trading Partners and Australia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Research supplies:
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force, Australia Latest release. Accessed on May 1, 2021

Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on May 1, 2021

Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 1, 2021

International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates chosen indicators (National money per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on May 1, 2021

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing strength Parity). Accessed on May 1, 2021

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 1, 2021

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 1, 2021

Richest Country Reports, meaningful Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on May 1, 2021

Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on May 1, 2021

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Australia. Accessed on May 1, 2021

Wikipedia, Purchasing strength parity. Accessed on May 1, 2021

Zepol’s Company summary highlights by country. Accessed on May 1, 2021

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