Tasmania—Riding a wave of strong export growth

Tasmania is riding a wave of growth in what it sells to the rest of the world. Exports grew 14% to A$3.8b in 2018—the highest level in a decade. Despite contributing only 1% to total Australian exports, Tasmanian exports grew faster than many larger states, particularly in the mineral and education sectors.

Tasmanian mineral and fuel exports grew 45% in 2018 to A$0.6b, the fastest growth of any state or territory. This was partly driven by a 56% rise in iron ore exports, Tasmania’s fourth largest export. This reflected demand for higher grade ore from China, higher prices in the last quarter of 2018, and ramp up in production. The outlook will be supported by higher production from new mines such as Forward Mining’s Rogetta iron ore mine and Hellyer gold mine, as well as increased exploration activity.

Tasmanian services exports grew 16% over 2017-18, almost 1.5 times faster than New South Wales and Victoria. Education-related travel expenses accounted for around half of this growth, underpinned by strong demand from international students. Enrolment in vocational courses almost doubled in 2018 and increased around twenty times over the past five years. Despite rapid growth in recent years, Tasmania only accounts for 1.3% of total international students studying in Australia. This is well below its 2.1% share of Australia’s population, implying capacity for higher enrolments.