5489.0 - International Merchandise Trade, Australia, Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001  
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Contents >> Chapter 6. Data Confidentiality >> Types of Restrictions

6.10 The ABS recognises that detailed commodity statistics about exported and imported goods play an important part in the analysis of Australia's trade with the rest of the world. However, this need for information has to be balanced with an individual's or organisation's entitlement to data confidentiality. Where restriction of statistics is necessary to preserve confidentiality, the ABS negotiates with the individual or organisation concerned on a form of restriction which protects their interests, while still allowing as much useful statistical information as possible to be released.

6.11 A variety of restrictions, or embargoes, are available to protect the confidentiality of an individual's or organisation's data. Each type of restriction is designed to protect a particular aspect of the data. Restrictions are placed at the commodity level, and the information is restricted for all trade in that commodity, not just that relating to the particular individual or organisation which requested the restriction.

6.12 These confidentiality restrictions relate to specific commodities. They do not affect total Australian trade, nor do they affect total trade by country and by state, with the exception of exports of alumina. As the value of Australia's total exports to some countries are dominated by the trade in alumina, even this total is considered to be confidential and is therefore not released separately. For some countries, data for alumina would account for nearly all of the confidential item.

6.13 The alumina component has therefore been removed from the confidential items for these countries and combined and released separately as a single aggregated Country Confidential Alumina category. The countries currently affected are Bahrain, Egypt and Iceland. The consequence of this is that Australia's published total exports to those countries excludes exports of alumina. This restriction also suppresses the state, Australian port and overseas port for alumina exports to these countries.

6.14 The various confidentiality restrictions, and their impact on international merchandise trade statistics, are set out in table 6.1.

Type of restrictionHow the restriction affects statistics
No Commodity DetailsUnder the most comprehensive restriction able to be applied, no data relating to a particular commodity are released. Instead, in statistics classified by commodity, the data are included in a dummy commodity code (titled combined confidential items of trade and commodities n.e.s.) together with data for all other commodities that are similarly restricted. A dummy code of this nature is often referred to a dump item.
Broad Commodity DetailsLike the No Commodity Details restriction, the Broad Commodity Details restriction also prevents the release of commodity detail, but allows data to be released at the broad commodity level, without that level being impacted by the restriction. Under this restriction, data for a group of confidentiality commodities in the same area of the classification are combined and presented in a dump item within the relevant area (chapter) of the classification.
This restriction is only being used in two cases: exports of metalliferous ores HS chapter 26, from July 1990 onwards, and imports of organic chemicals HS chapter 29, from July 1991 onwards.
No Country DetailsUnder this restriction, no details of the country of origin (for imports) or the country of final destination (for exports) are made available for a particular commodity. Where information relating to a country is suppressed, information relating to ports in that country is also suppressed.
Selected Country DetailsThis restriction suppresses details of trade in a commodity with specific countries. Instead of combining the details with data for all other countries having a similar restriction (as the No Country Details restriction does) this restriction suppresses details for a group of countries, but presents full details for other countries.
No State DetailsUnder this restriction, commodity statistics classified by Australian state are not made available. Information relating to Australian ports is also not available.
Selected State Details This restriction suppresses commodity details that are confidential for one Australian state, by combining details for that state with details for one or more other states. Details for the remaining states are made available in the normal way.
Selected States and
Selected Countries
This restriction suppresses details of trade in a commodity with specific countries as well as commodity details that are confidential for Australian states. It can be used to cover a specified group of states and a specified group of countries.
No Quantity DetailsUnder this restriction the value of trade in the commodity is available, but quantity and gross weight are suppressed.
No Value DetailsFor commodities subject to this restriction, the quantity and gross weight of the commodity are shown in statistics, but value is suppressed.
No Value Details by CountryThis restriction suppresses value details by country for the particular commodity to which it applies. Quantity details by country are available, but value is allocated to the category No Country Details.
No Duty DetailsThis restriction is only relevant to import clearances and can only be used in conjunction with a country restriction. The No Duty Details restriction results in the suppression of all duty details (rate of duty, nature of tariff, treatment code, preference code and duty paid) on records where country has been suppressed.
Port RestrictionThe above restrictions are applied at the commodity level. There is one confidentiality restriction which is not commodity based. This relates to imports into, and exports from, the Northern Territory ports of Gove and Groote Eylandt. There is not sufficient diversity of trade to allow release of data for these ports, so details of all exports and imports are suppressed and shown against a confidential ports - NT code. This permits release of totals by state.

Analysing statistics subject to restrictions

6.15 Where data are presented on an annual or year-to-date basis, analysts should take special care when interpreting the data if there has been a change in confidentiality restrictions during the year. The data presented for a particular item will be the sum of data released each month, and will not necessarily be the same as the total for the year-to-date for that item.

6.16 For example, if a No Country Details restriction is applied to a commodity for the first half of the year, and lifted for the second half of the year, country classified data for that commodity for the full year will only reflect trade in the second half of the year. Data for the first half of the year will be included in the item combined confidential items of trade in statistics for that country. Although complete data will not be presented for trade in the particular item with any individual country, complete data will be available at the total country and commodity levels.

6.17 Analysts need to be aware that more highly aggregated statistics may also be affected by confidentiality restrictions. Using the example in the previous paragraph, not only will annual country classified statistics for the commodity involved be incomplete, but statistics for groupings of commodities, which include the confidential item, will also be incomplete.

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