Booming iron ore price propels Australian economy


China’s latest threats to cut off Australian iron ore has raised major concerns about the ripple effect on our domestic housing market

Australia can thank the booming price of its biggest export iron ore, which currently brings in $136 billion a year, for thrusting the economy ahead of Brazil and bringing it close to Russia in a little over 12 months since the covid-19 pandemic began.

The Aussie economy has drawn admiration around the globe as it bounced back from the downturn last year, outperforming most countries.

Australia’s gross domestic product, a measure of the money value of goods and services produced, climbed to $US1.43 trillion ($A1.86 trillion), while Brazil’s dropped to $US1.42 trillion ($A1.83 trillion), according to Bloomberg data.

Soaring prices for iron ore have been the main driver for Australia’s boom as it outpaced Brazil’s economy for the first time in 25 years.

“The Australian economy has done exceptionally well but it’s very much an iron ore price story,” said IFM Investors chief economist Alex Joiner.

He added it was good for the country and it feeds into things that drive living standards.

Strict lockdown measures have impacted Brazil’s economy and despite Melbourne’s latest outbreak, Australia has managed to limit some of the financial fallout from the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Russia’s nominal GDP dropped to $US1.48 trillion ($A1.91 trillion) in the fourth quarter of 2020 and Australia’s sat at $US120.7 billion ($1.55 trillion), closing the gap by an estimated $US84.2 billion ($A108.8 billion).

“Our fiscal position has been made so much better by iron ore prices. It’s a modern day reinvention of ‘we are the lucky country’,” Dr Joiner told the AFR.

“This is an extraordinary tailwind for the economy and it’s an extraordinary gift to the government who benefits from the revenues we receive.”

Figures show that the Australian economy is set to become the world’s 12th largest economy in 2021, up two places from 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Australia’s GDP will be around $2 trillion, yet the country is home to just 0.3 per cent of the world’s population and accounts for 1.6 per cent of the global economy.

China earlier flagged a plan to drive down the cost of Australia’s biggest export, but so far little impact has been felt. China buys 60 per cent of Australia’s iron ore.



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