EARNINGS from Australia's commodity exports are forecast to rise by 22pc in 2005-06 to more than $120 billion, according to the December issue of Australian Commodities, released by ABARE executive director Brian Fisher.
"The strength of Australia's minerals and energy exports continues to underpin the nation's commodities sector," Dr Fisher said.
The value of Australia's minerals and energy exports is forecast to reach $90.3b in 2005-06, a rise of almost 32pc from the $68.6b estimated for 2004-05.
The value of Australia's energy commodity exports is forecast to rise by 42pc, reflecting strong growth in crude oil and LNG exports.
The value of crude oil exports is forecast to rise by 34pc to $8.5b, boosted by significantly higher oil prices and higher export volumes.
Similarly, the value of LNG exports is forecast to increase by 48pc to $4.7b in 2005-06, drawing on higher output from the North West Shelf's fourth LNG train and the start-up of the new Darwin LNG plant in 2006.
The value of Australia's iron ore exports is forecast to increase by 72pc to nearly $14b in 2005-06 and the value of metallurgical coal exports is forecast to increase by 64pc to $17.7b in 2005-06, largely reflecting substantial increases in negotiated contract prices in 2005.
The price outlook across minerals and energy commodities is mixed.
Oil, copper and nickel prices are expected to ease, while prices of other commodities, such as iron ore, zinc and aluminium are expected to firm, reflecting only moderate supply growth.
"Growth in world demand for most of the major minerals and energy commodities is expected to ease from current levels in 2006, reflecting weaker assumed growth in global industrial activity," Dr Fisher said.
In the agriculture sector, the turnaround in seasonal conditions since June has provided an ideal finish to winter crops in many regions of Australia and stimulated good pasture growth for livestock industries.
Total winter crop production is forecast to reach 37.8 million tonnes in 2005-06, an increase of 20pc when compared with 2004-05.
The December issue of Australian Commodities features an article on opportunities for agricultural reform arising from the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations and the US farm bill, and the latest update of Australia's major development projects in minerals and energy.
Tool of trade
THE Federal Government's new Tools for Your Trade initiative will benefit employers and new apprentices, according to O'Connor MP Wilson Tuckey.
"New apprentices who started from July 1, 2005, in trades experiencing skills needs, can receive a tool kit valued up to $800," Mr Tuckey said.
"This will benefit our local trade industry and around 19 new apprentices who have already commenced their apprenticeships in O'Connor are already eligible with a further 78 potentially eligible."
Mr Tuckey said new apprentices must complete three months of their training before their employer would receive a voucher to buy a tool kit.
The apprentice can keep the tool kit on completion of a further six months of training.
"If the new apprentice leaves before this time, the employer can still keep the tools for the use of other new apprentices, or pre-vocational and work experience students," Mr Tuckey said.
Further information on the initiative is available from www.toolsforyourtrade.com.au or call 1800 557 875.