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Australia Economy

    Economy—overview: Australia has a prosperous Western-style capitalist economy, with a per capita GDP at the level of the four dominant West European economies. Rich in natural resources, Australia is a major exporter of agricultural products, minerals, metals, and fossil fuels. Commodities account for 57% of the value of total exports, so that a downturn in world commodity prices can have a big impact on the economy. The government is pushing for increased exports of manufactured goods, but competition in international markets continues to be severe. Australia has suffered from the low growth and high unemployment characterizing the OECD countries in the early 1990s, but the economy has expanded at reasonably steady rates in recent years. Canberra's emphasis on reforms is a key factor behind the economy's resilience to the regional crisis and its stronger than expected growth rate that reached 4.5% last year. After a slow start in 1998, exports rebounded in the second half of the year because of a sharp currency depreciation and a redirection of sales to Europe, North America, and Latin America.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$393.9 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 4.5% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$21,200 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 4%
    industry: 31%
    services: 65% (1997 est.)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 2.5%
    highest 10%: 24.8% (1989)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (1998)

    Labor force: 9.2 million (December 1997)

    Labor force—by occupation: services 73%, industry 22%, agriculture 5% (1997 est.)

    Unemployment rate: 8.1% (1998)

    Budget:
    revenues: $90.73 billion
    expenditures: $89.04 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY98/99 est.)

    Industries: mining, industrial and transportation equipment, food processing, chemicals, steel

    Industrial production growth rate: 1.2% (1995)

    Electricity—production: 166.683 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 91.14%
    hydro: 8.84%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0.02% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 166.683 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Agriculture—products: wheat, barley, sugarcane, fruits; cattle, sheep, poultry

    Exports: $56 billion (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

    Exports—commodities: coal, gold, meat, wool, alumina, iron ore, wheat, machinery and transport equipment

    Exports—partners: Japan 20%, ASEAN 16%, EU 10%, South Korea 9%, US 9%, NZ 8%, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China (1997)

    Imports: $61 billion (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

    Imports—commodities: machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products

    Imports—partners: EU 25%, US 23%, Japan 13%, China, NZ (1997)

    Debt—external: $156 billion (June 1997)

    Economic aid—donor: ODA, $1.43 billion (FY97/98)

    Currency: 1 Australian dollar ($A) = 100 cents

    Exchange rates: Australian dollars ($A) per US$1—1.56 (February 1999), 1.5888 (1998), 1.3439 (1997), 1.2773 (1996), 1.3486 (1995), 1.3668 (1994)

    Fiscal year: 1 July—30 June

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)