AUSTRALIAN wool is weathering the global financial crisis better than fibre from any other country.
While prices may be back from their highs of a few months ago and exports down, the situation is much tougher for other wool-producing nations.
First-quarter results show a drop of 6 per cent in exports of Australian wool in the first three months of the selling season compared with the same period last year. But the situation was much worse for the other four major wool exporters.
Uruguay's wool exports were down 25 per cent, New Zealand and South Africa's were back 17 per cent while Argentina's exports fell 15 per cent.
Landmark wool and livestock risk manager Anthony Boatman said importing countries were buying less wool.
"Raw wool demand by the major wool-processing countries has declined in recent months as mills become more cautious about the global economic outlook," he said.
"Exports of raw wool from the major exporting countries have declined in response, although Australia's exports have held up best."
One of the surprising results from the analysis of the first quarter's wool sales has been the surge in interest from Italy, with imports lifting 29 per cent in three months.
But Mr Boatman said this was unlikely to continue.
"There are anecdotal reports that mills in Italy have reduced their purchases since September in response to the rising uncertainty about economic and financial conditions in Italy and the rest of Europe," he said.
And while the amount of Australian wool exported to China fell 8 per cent in the first quarter, Mr Boatman said this was not necessarily bad news.
"China does most of the early-stage processing and they are still running their (wool) machines and need to keep their businesses running," he said.
"The fact that China has only pulled back slightly is reflective of where the market really is.
"The decrease in the amount of wool sent to China was not huge, so that's a pretty good thing.
And while prices may have dipped, he said present rates should be put into perspective.
"Prices are still at really high levels when you compare them to the past 10 years," he said.