Trade statistics released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) should have alarm bells ringing in the State Government as merchandise exports to key trading regions the United States, China, Middle East and ASEAN plummeted by a combined $1 billion.

As the State Government hosts a business mission to Indonesia and the Philippines, merchandise export values in the 12 months to February 2017 with ASEAN (which includes both countries) are down by more than $200 million.

“The Weatherill Government’s dismal trade performance during the last year has been delivered in the middle of a trade bonanza for Australia,” said Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment Tim Whetstone. 

Over the past 12 months, the value of Australian merchandise exports rose 9.1 per cent compared with the preceding 12 months to $267.2 billion. Whereas over the past 12 months, the value of South Australian merchandise exports fell 8.2per cent to $10.73 billion.

“Losing millions of dollars from the South Australian economy from a drop in merchandise export values is equivalent to losing thousands of jobs,” said Mr Whetstone.

“The substantial drop in merchandise exports is with our biggest trading partners such as China and the United States.

“Last month the State Government undertook a trade mission to the Middle East where we once had a permanent presence, now our merchandise export values with the Middle East have dropped by more than $200 million.”

Mr Whetstone said the growth of South Australian wine exports has been pleasing, although the continued push towards premium wine must be fully capitalised on. 

“As a state we need policy settings that encourage diversity in the goods we export,” Mr Whetstone said.

“The quality of our fruit and vegetables, and the market advantage of our pest free status, should mean we are pushing this category much higher than around six per cent of our total merchandise export share. The likes of wool, fish and meat should also be growing larger market shares with the state’s fantastic offerings in these areas.”

Mr Whetstone said South Australia needs a greater investment in our export strategies to ensure the state can increase its exports. 

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