? Australian exporters by the numbers, 2014-15(3) - CCPIT in Australia

Australian exporters by the numbers, 2014-15(3)

Published on 2016-06-29

The most striking news in this week’s ABS release was that jump of more than 4,000 in the overall number of exporters to bring the total to over 51,000. While the lack of consistent data on services exporters means we can’t track the trend in total exporter numbers over time, we can splice together the back data on goods exporters with the new numbers. That shows that the last two years have now each seen a substantial increase in the number of (goods) exporters, with an increase of almost 4,000 goods exporters in 2014-15 following an increase of around 2,000 in the previous year. That marks a significant break with past experience: for the seven years between 2006-7 and 2012-13, the exporter count was relatively flat (although the relatively stable total numbers did disguise a large amount of churn, particularly among micro-exporters).

When we saw last year’s jump in exporter numbers, I suggested that this might have been, at least in part, the product of an improvement in Australia’s relative international competitiveness (by the end of 2013-14 the real exchange rate had fallen almost 10 per cent from its mid-2012 peak), or that it might be the start of the much-anticipated enabling impact of e-commerce on exporter numbers. Now, 2014-15 has seen an even larger jump in exporter numbers. That would seem be consistent with the improvement in competitiveness story, as the shift in relative competitiveness continued in 2014-15, with the real exchange rate declining by almost another ten per cent between July 2014 and June 2015, bring the total real depreciation from mid-2012 to more than 18 per cent7.

Of course, once again it is possible that technology also played a role in boosting exporter numbers. In addition, note that since the ABS count does not currently include very small exporters (businesses with export values of less than $2,000 per transaction), the numbers reported here may also exclude a significant number of small traders and individuals who are now benefitting from e-commerce enabled cross-border transactions.

By size of exporter, the increase in numbers in 2014-15 relative to 2013-14 was largely driven by growth in the number of micro-exporters, but there was positive growth across all three categories. Thus the 3,947 increase in the number of goods exporters (up a bit less than nine per cent) was driven by an increase of 3,294 micro-exporters (up a bit more than nine per cent), an increase of 635 SMEx (up seven per cent) and an increase of 18 mega-exporters (up four per cent).


(Australian Government Australian Trade and Investment Commission)