Australia saw its trade surplus shrink during March 2017 as the rising growth of imports outpaced the value of exports during the month.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that the country's trade surplus came to AU$3.1 billion (€2.1 billion), representing a 15 per cent decline compared to the month before, and lower than market forecasts of an AU $3.5 billion surplus.
Although the value of exports rose two per cent to AU$33.3 billion, this was outpaced by a more rapid rise in import values, which surged five per cent to AU$30.2 billion. It means that the record high surplus of AU$4.5 billion in December is likely to remain the peak, with further declines expected.
Imports were driven by growing uptake of consumption goods and household electrical items, whereas commodity exports were surprisingly soft, resulting in a lower-than-expected March surplus.
Paul Dales of Capital Economics said: "The fall in the international trade surplus in March ... supports our view that the biggest surpluses are in the past and that net exports were a drag on real GDP growth in the first quarter."