Australia’s trade surplus rose 2.0 per cent to $8.03 billion in May, as imports fell faster than exports.

Exports dropped 4.0 per cent to $35.7 billion, while imports dropped 6.0 per cent to $27.7 billion, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed on Thursday.

Imports of consumption goods was steeply lower, down 14 per cent to $8.9 billion.

Exports of rural goods fell 10 per cent to $3.6 million, driven by a 31 per cent drop in cereal grains and cereal preparations.

Coal export earnings dropped by 13.3 per cent, or $635 million.

“Australia’s international trade surplus has – on balance – been boosted by the net impacts of the pandemic,” Westpac economist Andrew Hanlan said in a note.

“Imports are trending lower as domestic demand contracts. Goods exports, while not immune from the global recession, have been more resilient.”

Economists had been expecting a $9 billion trade surplus, Mr Hanlan said, but the reason for the surprise was that ABS revised down the April result by $1 billion.