Australian exports to surge despite global slowdown: forecaster

SYDNEY, September 22, 2008 (AFP) – Australian export earnings are set to hit record levels this year due to continued strong demand for raw materials despite a global economic slowdown, the nation’s chief forecaster said Monday.

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But Australia’s economy will not be immune from the slowdown, with expected growth downgraded from average an 3.50 percent to 2.75 percent for 2008-09, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics said.

“While continued strong demand for Australian commodities is expected to provide support for economic growth, domestic demand is likely to moderate further over the next few quarters,” it said in a commodities report.

The bureau said Australian commodity export earnings were forecast to reach a record 213.7 billion dollars (177.7 billion US) in the year to June 30, 2009, a 1.4 billion dollar increase from the June forecast.

Farm export earnings are forecast to rise by nine percent to 30 billion dollars, with increased earnings for wheat, barley, canola, sugar and wine offsetting a decline in livestock revenue.

But the resources sector is the