The strongest annual rise in export prices in eight years is potentially a bonus for Treasurer Scott Morrison as he puts together his May federal budget.
Figures released on Thursday showed exports of Australia's key commodities have given another lift to the terms of trade or national income.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics international trade price indexes showed exports jumped 9.4 per cent in the March quarter for an annual rate of 29.1 per cent, the biggest increase since March 2009.
In contrast, imports rose by a more modest 1.2 per cent in the quarter and fell 0.6 per cent over the year.
JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy says export strength is across Australia's major export commodities, with prices paid for metal ores, gas and coal moving sharply higher.
However, the June quarter results are more difficult to predict because of the contrasting price action in iron ore and coal, he says.
During April, iron ore prices have moved sharply lower and are close to 30 per cent below March's peak, while supply-side disruptions associated with Queensland's devastating cyclones have resulted in coal prices nearly doubling.
Mr Morrison told a conference in Sydney on Thursday that navigating the volatility in commodity prices was a key challenge for his May 9 budget.
"Given the uncertain nature of commodity prices, it's important to continue to have conservative and credible judgements behind our forecasts," he told an Australian Business Economists lunch, his last set-piece event before the budget.
"Any positive surprises that may eventuate go straight to budget repair rather than being used to fund new spending initiatives."
The treasurer estimates the impact of Cyclone Debbie will subtract a quarter of a percentage point from growth in the June quarter because of the widespread damage in Queensland and northern NSW, which caused supply disruptions for coal and certain crops.
But Mr Morrison believes there is a greater sense of optimism in the global economic outlook as he puts together his second budget.
The Australian economy is performing well, as seen in the rebound in economic growth in late 2016 and inflation returning to the Reserve Bank's 2-3 per cent band for the first time since September 2014.
"Things are beginning to look up. There are clearly better days ahead," Mr Morrison said.
But he also stressed the improving overall picture did not mean the benefits were being felt by all, and modest wages growth since the end of the mining investment boom remained a challenge.