Simon Says: The evolution of Queensland’s export economy

Simon Says: The evolution of Queensland’s export economy

Simon, the latest figures on Australia’s international trade came out a few weeks ago. What are the standout Queensland trends from the last 12 months?

As with last month’s figures, the big message is that the value of Queensland’s merchandise exports continues to climb.

Based on the latest ABS trade data, in the 12 months to February 2018, Queensland merchandise exports totalled $70.0 billion, 17.2% higher than same period a year ago, and a near record performance.

Gas and coal exports have driven our export growth in the last year.

Now, Beef Australia 2018 will come to Rockhampton in May, connecting Queensland beef producers with international buyers from many countries. Just how valuable is the beef export industry to Queensland?

Beef is one of Queensland’s major exports overall, and also one of our most valuable agricultural exports.

In the past 12 months, the value of all beef exports from Queensland (including fresh, chilled and frozen beef) was $4.3 billion, up $137 million on the same period last year.

The beef cattle industry is one of Queensland’s traditional export strengths. What share of Australia’s beef exports come out of Queensland?

Queensland is Australia’s largest beef exporter by quite a significant margin. In the last 12 months, Queensland beef exports represented 57% of all Australian beef exports by value.

And who are our strongest markets for beef cattle?

Asian markets are really the key — seven of our top ten beef export markets are in Asia. Queensland’s major beef export markets include Japan ($1.3 billion) the Republic of Korea ($769 million) and China ($433 million).

The USA is also a very important market, with beef sales totalling $744 million.

Beef cattle have been a traditional strength of Queensland’s export economy. Beef producers and international buyers will gather this month for Beef Australia 2018 in Rockhampton.

Any other insights about our beef exports you’d like to share?

Well, I find the details behind Asian demand for Queensland beef very interesting. According to Meat & Livestock Australia, the trends driving demand vary across Asian markets.

In Japan, the population is declining and growing older, but affluent urban consumers still want quality imported proteins, with increasing interest in akami (leaner meat) and steaks.

In China, the population is increasingly urbanised and affluent, and that’s fuelling rising consumer demand for premium imported beef.

In Korea, consumers currently prefer Australian beef to US beef, with our products rating higher on integrity and trust. Korean consumers are the highest per capita consumers of beef in Asia.

Not long after Beef Australia, Brisbane’s Myriad tech festival will bring together a very different group of local businesses and international investors. How is Queensland shaping up as a tech exporter?

Tech goods and services are part of a larger group known as ‘knowledge-intensive’ industries. Goods and services in this sector have been among the most dynamic components of international trade over the last decade. A country’s ability to compete in knowledge-intensive markets is now very important to its global competitiveness.

Brisbane’s Myriad tech fest will bring together start-ups and investors from around the world. Tech exports are an emerging export strength for Queensland.

Queensland is embracing this change and performing well. Queensland exports of knowledge-intensive goods rose $437 million, or 17.7%, in the year ending February 2018.

Queensland is Australia’s third-largest exporter of knowledge-intensive goods, with 14.3% of the national total.

How do we compare to other states when it comes to numbers of tech start-ups?

A recent national survey found that, in 2017, Queensland had 21.0% of all start-ups by office location. This was the second highest of all states, behind New South Wales at 41.1% and well ahead of Victoria’s 14.9%.

Which do you think is more important to Queensland’s export economy — traditional exports like beef, or emerging exports like tech goods and services?

I think a diverse economy is a healthy economy — which is why it’s great to see Queensland exports performing well in traditional strengths, like beef cattle, and also in the emerging tech sector.