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In trend terms, total goods and services debits have generally risen since June quarter 1990. Goods imports more than doubled in the decade to June quarter 2002 while services imports rose by 73%. In value terms, the import commodities showing the largest rises were passenger cars and fuels.
Goods and services debits (imports) are real resources acquired from foreign residents.
Goods debits include all movable goods that change ownership from non-residents to residents. These imports are valued in f.o.b. (free on board) terms at the frontier of the exporting country, which excludes the transportation and insurance costs (considered to be services) of bringing the goods from the exporting countries to Australia. Goods debits are categorised into general merchandise and other goods. General merchandise imports are classified into three end-use categories: consumption goods; capital goods; and intermediate and other goods. Each of these categories is in turn broken down into broad commodity groups such as food, chemicals, textiles, metals and metal manufactures, machinery, transport equipment, other manufactures and other imports. Other goods includes goods for processing and repair, goods procured in ports by carriers (mostly fuels) and non-monetary gold.
Services debits are transactions in services provided by non-residents to Australian residents. These are categorised into groups such as transportation, travel, communication, construction, insurance, financial, computer and information, royalties and licence fees, other business, personal, cultural and recreational, and government not elsewhere included. More detailed breakdowns are provided under many of these categories.
The imports of goods and services enables domestic consumers to have access to a wider range of goods and services than can be produced domestically. They also enable Australian producers to specialise in activities in which they have a comparative advantage. Demand for imports is influenced by both the foreign currency price of the imports and the exchange rate. If the Australian dollar depreciates (falls in value) imports become more expensive and consequently there may be a reduction in the demand by Australians for foreign-produced goods and services. Demand for imports is also influenced by the level of economic activity in Australia.