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5368.0 - International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, Nov 2003  
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Feature Article - Australia's Importers, 2002-03


INTRODUCTION

This is the fourth in a series of articles analysing the characteristics and international trading activities of Australia's exporters and importers, based on the Australian Business Number (ABN). Australia's Exporters, 2002-03 was released on the ABS web site, concurrently with the October 2003 issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (Cat. no. 5368.0), on 4 December 2003.

Estimates for importers of merchandise (businesses that import goods) are compiled from data sourced from the Australian Customs Service (Customs) and from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Australian Business Register. Estimates for importers of services, compiled from the ABS Survey of International Trade in Services (SITS), are also included.

The estimates are subject to limitations in terms of the data available and methodology applied:

      a. consistent with previous studies, businesses which imported goods totalling less than $10,000 in 2002-03 are excluded from the estimates of number of importers;

      b. service importers include businesses which receive services from off-shore businesses to their operations in Australia, i.e. supply modes 1 and 4 in the classification used by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). However, smaller and / or occasional service importers are unlikely to come to ABS notice and are therefore not included in the estimates. The number of excluded businesses may be significant, but the value of their imports is not thought to be appreciable in the totality of service imports. The ABS continues to try to identify these businesses and incorporate them into its surveys;


      c. the number of service importers excludes businesses that only import insurance, financial, government or travel services, as estimates for these service types are not derived from the Survey of International Trade in Services. Travel services are the supply of goods or services to Australian residents while they are overseas (supply mode 2), such as hotels, restaurants, retail, tourist facilities, transport, theatres, educational institutions, etc. The estimates also exclude Australian-owned businesses located overseas receiving goods or services in the country in which they are located (usually called foreign affiliates trade - supply mode 3), because their trade does not directly contribute to Australia's imports of goods and services;

      d. Australian businesses which receive goods or services from other businesses which undertake the importing function are excluded. For example, many products are imported into Australia by wholesalers who on-sell to the end consumer.

As the analysis has been undertaken on imports data extracted from earlier publication cycles, the value of imports of goods and services shown in the tables in this article are not necessarily consistent with those shown in the November 2003 issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (Cat. no. 5368.0). In addition, the value of goods imports is on a merchandise trade basis, while the value of service imports is on a balance of payments basis. This has no effect on the estimates of the number of importers and minimal effect on the analysis of import values.


NUMBER OF IMPORTERS

The number of importers in 2002-03 was estimated to be 58,523, as shown in Table F1. This was 3,168 more than the estimate for 2001-02 of 55,355 importers. In the same period, the total value of imports of goods and services rose by $13.8b to $166.0b. A rise in the value of the $A against most major currencies impacted on the price of imports in this period. Between 2001-02 and 2002-03, the average value of the $A increased by 12% against the $US and 3% against the trade weighted index.

The number of goods importers was estimated to be 57,313 in 2002-03, an increase of 2,928. The number of service importers fell by 59 to 2,241. Of the businesses engaged in service imports, 46% (1,031) were also goods importers. By eliminating the duplication, the total number of importers was derived at 58,523 (57,313 plus 2,241 less 1,031).

TABLE F1: IMPORTERS

IMPORTERS
TOTAL IMPORTS


2001-02
2002-03
2001-02
2002-03
2002-03
no.
no.
$m
$m
%

Goods importers
$100m or more
163
182
56,309
66,691
50.1
$1m and less than $100m
8,029
8,422
56,325
58,985
44.3
$100,000 and less than $1m
16,864
17,821
5,765
6,137
4.6
$10,000 and less than $100,000
29,329
30,888
1,058
1,113
0.8
Other goods importers
--
193
204
0.2
Total goods importers
54,385
57,313
119,649
133,130
100.0
Service importers
Businesses importing services
$100m or more
n.a.
29
n.a.
10,057
30.6
$1m and less than $100m
n.a.
782
n.a.
6,625
20.1
Less than $1m (a)
n.a.
1,430
n.a.
3,072
9.3
Total
2,300
2,241
19,596
19,754
60.1
Other service importers (b)
. .
. .
13,035
13,137
39.9
Total service importers
2,300
2,241
32,631
32,891
100.0
Total importers (c)
55,355
58,523
152,280
166,021
. .

(a) Value of imports includes a component for freight services. No corresponding estimate has been made of the number of importers of freight services.
(b) Includes travel, insurance, financial and government services. Numbers of importers cannot be estimated for these service types, as the Survey of International Trade in Services is not used to measure these imports.
(c) Total excludes duplication from businesses which import both goods and services.


GOODS IMPORTERS

Value of imports

As shown in Table F1, the 182 largest goods importers, each with imports worth $100m or more, accounted for half ($66.7b) of Australia's goods imports in 2002-03. There were 8,604 businesses that imported goods worth $1m or more, together accounting for $125.7b (94%) of goods imports.

Another 17,821 businesses imported goods valued between $100,000 and $1m, accounting for $6.1b (5%) of goods imports in 2002-03. Over half (30,888) of Australia's goods importers had imports valued between $10,000 and $100,000 during 2002-03, accounting for $1.1b (1%) of goods imports in that period.

Industry

Most goods imports were by the wholesale trade (44% by value) and manufacturing (36%) industries, as shown in Table F2. Together these accounted for $106.7b (80%) of Australia's $133.1b of goods imports during 2002-03. The next most significant industry was retail trade with $7.6b (6%) of goods imports.

Imports by machinery and equipment manufacturers, and machinery and motor vehicle wholesalers, together accounted for almost $50b (37%) of Australia's total goods imports.



TABLE F2: IMPORTS OF GOODS, INDUSTRY OF IMPORTER

IMPORTERS(a)
TOTAL GOODS IMPORTS


2001-02
2002-03
2001-02
2002-03
2002-03
Industry of importer
no.
no.
$m
$m
%

Agriculture, forestry and fishing
928
977
455
491
0.4
Mining
282
303
4,407
5,237
3.9
Manufacturing
Food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing
761
828
2,833
3,193
2.4
Textile, clothing, footwear and
leather manufacturing
1,246
1,273
1,968
2,007
1.5
Wood and paper product manufacturing
428
458
1,256
1,448
1.1
Printing, publishing and recorded media
673
698
1,269
1,325
1.0
Petroleum, coal, chemical and
associated product manufacturing
1,204
1,261
12,485
16,016
12.0
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing
375
409
357
389
0.3
Metal product manufacturing
1,105
1,194
4,263
4,659
3.5
Machinery and equipment manufacturing
3,201
3,303
17,906
17,865
13.4
Other manufacturing
1,120
1,188
1,226
1,176
0.9
Total
10,113
10,612
43,563
48,078
36.1
Electricity, gas and water supply
104
111
132
109
0.1
Construction
1,232
1,560
1,061
1,227
0.9
Wholesale trade
Basic material wholesaling
2,126
2,467
8,097
6,850
5.1
Machinery and motor vehicle wholesaling
5,099
5,439
28,292
31,959
24.0
Personal and household good wholesaling
8,602
9,057
18,299
19,802
14.9
Total
15,827
16,963
54,687
58,610
44.0
Retail trade
Food retailing
373
460
468
540
0.4
Personal and household good retailing
5,734
6,368
5,560
6,037
4.5
Motor vehicle retailing and services
896
961
886
1,000
0.8
Total
7,003
7,789
6,914
7,577
5.7
Accommodation, cafes and restaurants
230
279
42
185
0.1
Transport and storage
717
744
2,943
5,864
4.4
Communication services
252
275
371
367
0.3
Finance and insurance
933
985
1,344
1,311
1.0
Property and business services
3,409
3,948
1,876
2,053
1.5
Government administration and defence
176
173
n.p.
n.p.
n.p.
Education
173
209
50
n.p.
n.p.
Health and community services
386
396
171
125
0.1
Cultural and recreational services
619
694
207
264
0.2
Personal and other services
509
608
184
208
0.2
Other
54
130
n.p.
n.p.
n.p.
Industry not known
11,438
10,557
(b)
(b)
(b)
Total goods importers
54,385
57,313
119,649
133,130
100.0

(a) Includes only those businesses that imported at least $10,000 of goods.
(b) The value of imports with 'Industry not known' was $261m. These imports were prorated across the industries that imported the same commodities.


Size of business

Two different size measures are used for goods importers in this article. They are the value of imports (see Table F1) and size of business (Table F3). Traditionally, the ABS has only used employment to determine the size of a business because this has been the only sizing variable generally available. Many significant importers were found not to have large employment.


For the purpose of this analysis, size of business has been defined in terms of three variables - employment, estimated annual turnover (both from the ATO business registers) and value of imports (from Customs):
    • small businesses - having fewer than 20 employees and estimated annual turnover less than $1m and imports of less than $1m during 2002-03;
    • large businesses - having 200 or more employees or estimated annual turnover of $20m or more or imports of $20m or more during 2002-03; and
    • medium businesses - all businesses other than those defined as small or large.

There were 4,417 large goods importers in 2002-03, accounting for $109.9b (83%) of goods imports. The 20,121 medium sized importers accounted for $21.0b (16%) of goods imports. They were most prevalent in the manufacturing and wholesale trade industries, accounting for 53% and 47% of importers in those industries. Almost 60% (32,775) of Australia's goods importers were small businesses. They contributed $2.2b (2%) of goods imports.



TABLE F3: IMPORTS OF GOODS, SIZE OF BUSINESS BY INDUSTRY OF IMPORTER -- 2002-03

NUMBER OF IMPORTERS(a)
VALUE OF IMPORTS


Large
Medium
Small
Total(b)
Large
Medium
Small
Total
Industry of importer
no.
no.
no.
no.
$m
$m
$m
$m

Mining
111
108
84
303
5,107
122
8
5,237
Manufacturing
1,448
5,573
3,591
10,612
43,057
4,688
334
48,078
Wholesale trade
1,223
7,931
7,809
16,963
45,576
12,073
962
58,610
Retail trade
349
2,576
4,864
7,789
5,241
1,918
418
7,577
Transport and storage
163
298
283
744
5,628
212
24
5,864
Finance and insurance
135
259
591
985
1,006
248
57
1,311
Property and business services
277
1,385
2,286
3,948
1,050
810
192
2,053
Other
711
1,941
2,760
5,412
3,221
962
216
4,400
Industry not known(b)
0
50
10,507
10,557
(c)
(c)
(c)
(c)
Total goods importers
4,417
20,121
32,775
57,313
109,886
21,034
2,210
133,130

PERCENT

Mining
36.6
35.6
27.7
100.0
97.5
2.3
0.2
100.0
Manufacturing
13.6
52.5
33.8
100.0
89.6
9.7
0.7
100.0
Wholesale trade
7.2
46.8
46.0
100.0
77.8
20.6
1.6
100.0
Retail trade
4.5
33.1
62.4
100.0
69.2
25.3
5.5
100.0
Transport and storage
21.9
40.1
38.0
100.0
96.0
3.6
0.4
100.0
Finance and insurance
4.5
33.1
62.4
100.0
69.2
25.3
5.5
100.0
Property and business services
7.0
35.1
57.9
100.0
51.2
39.5
9.4
100.0
Other
13.1
35.9
51.0
100.0
73.2
21.9
4.9
100.0
Industry not known(b)
0.0
0.5
99.5
100.0
(c)
(c)
(c)
(c)
Total goods importers
7.7
35.1
57.2
100.0
82.5
15.8
1.7
100.0

(a) Includes only those businesses that imported at least $10,000 of goods.
(b) Importers who did not report an ABN have been allocated a size of business based only on the value of their imports: large business if imports valued at $20m or more, medium business if imports valued between $1m and $20m, small business if imports valued at less than $1m.
(c) Imports for which no ABN was reported (valued at $261m) were prorated across the industries that imported the same commodities.



State of destination

New South Wales and Victoria were the state of destination of almost three quarters of Australia's goods imports in 2002-03, as shown in Table F4. These two States accounted for 81% ($47.6b) of imports by the wholesaling industry and 65% ($31.1b) of imports by the manufacturing industry.

TABLE F4: IMPORTS OF GOODS, INDUSTRY OF IMPORTER BY STATE OF DESTINATION OF COMMODITY(a) -- 2002-03

New
Total
South
Queens-
South
Western
goods
Wales
Victoria
land
Australia
Australia
Tasmania
Other(b)
imports
Industry of importer
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m

Mining
n.p.
n.p.
967
48
n.p.
32
399
5,237
Manufacturing
15,565
15,546
6,952
3,741
5,848
333
94
48,078
Wholesale trade
29,232
18,391
5,987
1,358
3,529
62
50
58,610
Retail trade
3,292
2,418
1,119
241
480
13
13
7,577
Finance and insurance
n.p.
n.p.
104
32
n.p.
6
2
1,311
Property and business services
922
660
278
64
122
3
5
2,053
Other
4,516
3,341
939
249
492
317
410
10,263
Total goods imports
55,280
42,257
16,348
5,732
11,775
765
973
133,130

(a) State estimates in this table differ slightly from those published in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat no. 5368.0) because the estimation system used to allocate data with no ABN ($261m) is based on industry not state.
(b) Includes imports into Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.


Goods exporters and importers

Table F5 shows that of the 57,313 businesses with goods imports worth $10,000 or more during 2002-03, 14,046 (25%) also exported goods valued at $10,000 or more. Of the 8,604 businesses with goods imports of $1m or more, 21% (1,778) also exported goods valued at $1m or more in 2002-03. Businesses with imports valued between $10,000 and $100,000 were the least likely to have also exported goods. 3372 (11%) of these exported goods worth $10,000 or more in 2002-03.

TABLE F5: GOODS EXPORTERS AND IMPORTERS -- 2002-03

VALUE OF IMPORTS

$100m
$1m and
$100,000
$10,000 and
Total
or
less than
and less
less than
goods
more
$100m
than $1m
$100,000
Other(a)
exporters
no.
no.
no.
no.
no.
no.

Value of exports
    $100m or more
27
54
20
9
84
194
    $1m and less than $100m
123
1,574
644
412
1,406
4,159
    $100,000 and less than $1m
18
2,226
1,627
1,050
4,614
9,535
    $10,000 and less than $100,000
7
1,714
2,640
1,901
9,726
15,988
    Other(b)
7
2,854
12,890
27,516
. .
. .
Total goods importers
182
8,422
17,821
30,888
. .
(c)

(a) Includes businesses whose imports are not known or valued at less than $10,000.
(b) Includes businesses whose exports are not known or valued at less than $10,000.
(c) Total goods exporters were 29,876 and total goods importers were 57,313.



SERVICE IMPORTERS


Value of imports

As shown in Table F1, businesses importing services were dominated by a small number of importers, with just 29 businesses accounting for 31% ($10.1b) of Australia's total service imports in 2002-03. There were 782 (35%) service importers with imports worth between $1m and $100m, accounting for 20% of total service imports. Almost two-thirds (1,430) of identified importers of services had service imports worth less than $1m in 2002-03.


Service type

The service types with the highest numbers of importers in 2002-03 were Other business services (1,963), Royalties and licence fees (1,378) and Computer and information services (1,296), as shown in Table F6. Transportation services had the highest value of imports per business, averaging $164m per importer in 2002-03.


TABLE F6: IMPORTS OF SERVICES, TYPE OF SERVICE -- 2002-03

Average service
Total service
Total service
imports per
Importers(a)
imports
imports
business
Type of service
no.
$m
%
$m

Transportation services
67
10,960
33.3
163.6
Travel services
(b)
11,012
33.5
(b)
Communication services
938
1,407
4.3
1.5
Insurance services
(b)
856
2.6
(b)
Financial services
(b)
585
1.8
(b)
Computer and information services
1,296
967
2.9
0.7
Royalties and licence fees
1,378
1,828
5.6
1.3
Other business services
1,963
3,746
11.4
1.9
Personal, cultural and recreational services
948
846
2.6
0.9
Government services n.i.e.
(b)
684
2.1
(b)
Total service importers
2,241
32,891
100.0
. .

(a) Businesses may import more than one type of service.
(b) Number of importers cannot be estimated as the Survey of International Trade in Services is not used to measure imports of this service type.
Industry

As shown in Table F7, the industries with the largest number of service importers included in the overall estimate in 2002-03 were the property and business services industries (724 service importers) and manufacturing industry (475 service importers). Service importers in both these industries averaged about $2.5m of service imports per business. The businesses with the highest average value of service imports were the transport and storage ($107m) and communication services ($32m) industries.

TABLE F7: IMPORTS OF SERVICES, INDUSTRY OF IMPORTER -- 2002-03

Average service
Total services
Total services
imports per
Importers
imports
imports
business
Industry of importer
no.
$m
%
$m

Businesses importing services
Agriculture, forestry and fishing
14
11
0.0
0.8
Mining
83
456
1.4
5.5
Manufacturing
475
1,220
3.7
2.6
Construction
36
38
0.1
1.1
Wholesale trade
324
1,428
4.3
4.4
Retail trade
66
147
0.4
2.2
Transport and storage
112
12,034
36.6
107.4
Communication services
42
1,358
4.1
32.3
Property and business services
724
1,792
5.4
2.5
Education
63
87
0.3
1.4
Cultural and recreational services
149
792
2.4
5.3
Personal and other services
13
19
0.1
1.5
Other
140
372
1.1
2.7
Total
2,241
19,754
60.1
8.8
Other service importers (a)
(a)
13,137
39.9
(a)
Total service importers
2,241
32,891
100.0
. .

(a) Numbers of importers cannot be estimated as the Survey of International Trade in Services is not used to measure imports of all services. This includes imports of travel, insurance, financial and government services.

SYMBOLS AND OTHER USAGE
The following symbols and abbreviations have been used in this article:
. .not applicable
n.a.not available
n.p.not available for publication

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