Chinese imports from Australia in May rise 55.4% y-o-y despite trade tensions
Published: Jun 07, 2021 01:28 PM


China's imports from Australia in May rose 55.4 percent year on year, according to data released by China's customs authority. Experts say the imports were bolstered by rising bulk commodities such as iron ores, despite a currently icy bilateral trade relationship.

In May, China imported $13.601 billion worth of goods from Australia, up 55.4 percent compared to $8.751 billion in May 2020, according to China's General Administration of Customs (GAC).

Trade between Australia and China also rose 23 percent year-on-year from January to May to $87.88 billion, according to the GAC. 

The expansion of China's imports from Australia in May was still because of the rising cost of bulk commodities from Australia, Chen Hong, a professor and director of the Australian Studies Center at the East China Normal University, told the Global Times.

In particular, iron ore prices have been jumping to a record high, which drastically inflated the value of imports, Chen said. 

"The expansion is not going to last long. Once the prices of bulk commodities fall back to a normal range, trade will show a plunge," Chen said, "many businesses between China and Australia have been damaged due to the icy relationship, but so far it is offset by inflation in the commodity market."

China's imports of iron ore soared in the first five months of this year, according to the GAC. A total of 472 million tons of iron ore was imported from January to May, up 6 percent year-on-year. The average price of iron ore spiked to 1,032.8 yuan ($161) per ton, up 62.7 percent. 

More than 80 percent of China's iron ore imports are concentrated in the hands of four major foreign miners, with Australia and Brazil accounting for a combined 81 percent of China's total iron ore imports, according to media reports.

Among them, Australia takes over 60 percent of the total amount of iron ore imports. Although this number dropped by 7.51 percentage points from 2019 after the Chinese steel industry's efforts to diversify import sources, Australia has remained in a dominant position.

Global Times