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6419.0 - Producer and International Trade Price Indexes, 1995  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/02/1995  Ceased
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Contents >> Chapter 2. Historical background


2.1. Producer and International Trade Price Indexes are classified under two categories:

      • Producer Price Indexes which measure the prices of goods moving between sectors of the Australian economy; and
      • International Trade Price Indexes which price goods entering and leaving Australia.

Producer price indexes

2.2. The first price index of this kind compiled by the ABS was the Melbourne Wholesale Price Index, which was introduced in 1912 with index numbers compiled back to 1861. Prices were extracted from newspapers and trade publications, and index numbers were compiled up to 1961. The index related chiefly to basic materials and foods, weighted in accordance with consumption in about the year 1910. Neither the list of items nor the weighting was varied during the life of the index. A description of the index and a list of the items included was last published in Labour Report No. 38, 1949.

2.3. The next index published was the Wholesale Price (Basic Materials and Foodstuffs) Index, which was introduced in 1939 with index numbers available for the period 1928 to 1970. The index related to commodities in their basic or primary form and prices were obtained as near as possible to the point where they made their first effective impact on the local price structure. With few exceptions, prices were obtained from Melbourne sources. The weights were based on estimates of the average annual consumption of the commodities in Australia during the period 1928-29 to 1934-35 inclusive. A list of the commodities included and other information concerning the index was last published in Labour Report No. 53, 1967.

2.4. The present range of producer price indexes was developed and produced progressively from the 1960's. The current indexes relate to three broad sectors of the economy:

Building Industry:

      • Price Index of Materials Used in Building Other than House Building, Six State Capital Cities (6407.0), first issue January 1969; and
      • Price Index of Materials Used in House Building, Six State Capital Cities (6408.0), first issue September 1970.

Manufacturing Industry:

      • Price Indexes of Copper Materials, Australia (6410.0), first issue October 1972 as Price Indexes of Metallic Materials;
      • Price Indexes of Materials Used in Manufacturing Industries, Australia (6411.0), first issue April 1975; and
      • Price Indexes of Articles Produced by Manufacturing Industry, Australia (6412.0), first issue June 1976.

Mining Industry:

      • Price Indexes of Materials Used in Coal Mining, Australia (6415.0), first issue December 1988.

International trade price indexes

Export Price Index

2.5. An index of export prices has been published by the ABS since 1901. The first index was compiled annually from 1901 to 1916-17 as a current weighted unit value index.

2.6. The method of calculation was changed in 1918 to incorporate fixed weights. The calculation of weights for all principal exports was based on the average quantities of exports for the period January 1897 to June 1916. These weights were applied to the average unit values of each export in successive years and a weighted average index of 'price' movements was derived. This index was published for the years 1897 to 1929-30.

2.7. An index of export prices was not published again until 1937 when two series of monthly export prices were published, compiled back to 1928. One index used fixed weights and the other used changing weights. The most important methodological change introduced with these indexes was the use of actual export prices in place of unit values. These indexes were compiled until 1962.

2.8. The next index was introduced in August 1962 with index numbers compiled back to July 1959. This was a fixed weights index with a reference base of 1959-60 = 100.0. The weights were based on the average annual value of exports during the five years 1956-57 to 1960-61. By 1969-70 there had been a substantial shift in the relative importance of commodities exported and from July 1969 a new interim series was linked to this index. The reference base was still 1959-60 = 100.0 but the weights used were based on the annual value of exports in 1969-70. Four new commodities - iron ore, bauxite, alumina and mineral sands - were included. The interim index was published until June 1979 when it was replaced by an index on a reference base of 1974-75 = 100.0

2.9. The current Export Price Index, Australia (6405.0) was introduced in September 1990 with index numbers compiled from July 1989. This index has a reference base of 1989-90 = 100.0. The weights are based on the value of Australian exports for 1988-89.

Import Price Index

2.10. The first index of import prices produced by the ABS was introduced in May 1983. This index was compiled quarterly from September Quarter 1981 until June Quarter 1991 with a reference base of 1981-82 = 100.0. It replaced an import price index previously published by the Reserve Bank of Australia which used a reference base of 1966-67 = 100.0. The Reserve Bank's import price index was published from 1928 until September 1982.

2.11. An index of import prices was introduced in September 1991 with index numbers compiled monthly from April 1991. This index has a reference base of 1989-90 = 100.0. The weights are based on the average value of imports landed in Australia during 1988-89 and 1989-90.

2.12. From September quarter 1997, each of the current producer and international trade price indexes is now compiled quarterly.

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