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In 2003-04 the ABS continued its important and valued role in the international statistical community through:
A specific ongoing commitment in the Asia-Pacific region is the contribution to the coordination of the World Bank International Comparison Program (ICP). The objective of the ICP is to produce purchasing power parities to enable cross-country comparison of gross domestic product and other economic aggregates. The Australian Statistician is chairman of the ICP Global Executive Board.
The ABS participated in a number of important international conferences in 2003-04 including the First Session of the Sub-Committee on Statistics of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific held in Bangkok in February 2004 which was chaired by the Australian Statistician. Other international meetings in which the ABS participated include the Thirty-Fifth Session of the United Nations Statistical Commission held in New York in March 2004, and a number of conferences associated with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Labour Organisation. The ABS participated in the International Statistical Institute (ISI) session held in Germany in August 2003. Preparations are progressing well for the next biennial session of the ISI, the peak professional body for statisticians in all fields, to be hosted by the ABS and held in Sydney in April 2005. Representatives of the ABS also attended the Pacific Community Regional Meeting of Statistics held in Noumea in September 2003.
During the year the ABS conducted high level bilateral discussions with two other national statistical agencies - Statistics Sweden and Statistics New Zealand. These meetings provided opportunities for the chief executives and senior executives to pursue management and statistical issues of common concern and improve working arrangements between the agencies.
The ABS provides a valuable contribution to international statistical training through the United Nations Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP). For example, ABS staff members provided expert services in training courses in Thailand, China and Japan during 2003-04. The ABS is also a member of the SIAP Governing Board, and contributes senior resource persons for management meetings related to this role. In addition, the ABS provides technical assistance to those countries in the Asia-Pacific region who seek ABS advice and support, and who are high priority for the Australian government.
The ABS continued its program of technical cooperation with the Indonesian national statistical agency with a new Memorandum of Understanding signed by its Director-General and the Australian Statistician during a high level visit to the ABS in April 2004. A high level visit to the ABS in February 2004 by the Chairman of the Mongolian National Statistics Office resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding identifying areas for future cooperation. A program of assistance to Thailand to strengthen its macro-economic statistics also continued in 2003-04.
In addition to planned programs of assistance, the ABS provided advice and capacity building in response to ad hoc requests from countries in our region. This included assistance to the Bank of Thailand as well as hosting short-term traineeships for staff members from the national statistical offices of Papua New Guinea and Singapore. Other countries which sent delegations to the ABS include Thailand, Nepal and the Solomon Islands. The ABS also provided assistance to Timor L'este as the country prepares for its first population census since gaining independence.
Dr Soedarti Surbakti, Director General, Badan Pusat Statistik (Statistics Indonesia), and Mr Dennis Trewin (right)