AUSTRALIA'S SE ASIA TRADE IS BOOMING, REPORT SHOWS

AUSTRALIA'S SE ASIA TRADE IS BOOMING, REPORT SHOWS

Australian trade with Southeast Asia has grown faster than that with any other region in the past five years, a government report said.

Trade Minister Peter Cook said Australian exports to Southeast Asia have risen 7.0 percent since June 1988, eclipsing trade with the mighty economies of north Asia, which rose 2 percent in the same period.Australian exports to North America and Europe declined over the past five years, Mr. Cook said in a major review of Australian trade, released last week.

Southeast Asia, where economic growth has been booming, has replaced Western Europe as the second-biggest market for Australian goods behind north Asia, which includes Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

North Asia received 44 percent of Australia's exports, compared with 14.5 percent among the Southeast Asian markets of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India and New Zealand.

But Southeast Asia was by far the fastest growing market, mostly for Australia's non-monetary gold, crude petroleum, aluminum, milk and cotton goods.

Exports to Japan totaled A$15.2 billion (US$10 billion), up 4.1 percent

from last year and representing about 25 percent of the country's entire exports.

The review showed exports to North America slipping 3 percent over the past five years to about 10.2 percent of Australia's total, largely due to weakness in the U.S. and Canadian economies in the late 1980s to 1991.

Australian goods shipped to Western Europe fell 4 percent to about 12.8 percent of the total.

September quarter national account data, due out Tuesday, are expected to show a second successive quarter of rapid growth in export volumes, centered mostly on manufacturers.

But imports are also heading higher, reaching a seasonally adjusted monthly record in trend terms in September.