1 This publication presents comprehensive details of Australia's international accounts: its balance of payments and international investment position statistics.
2 The conceptual framework used in Australia's balance of payments and international investment position statistics is based on the Fifth edition of the International Monetary Fund's Balance of Payments Manual (BPM5, 1993). Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of the balance of payments and international investment position, and the sources, methods and terms used in compiling the estimates are presented in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (5331.0), which was released on 22 September, 1998.
3 In keeping with balance of payments conventions, credit entries are shown without sign and debit items are shown as negative entries. However, references to debit items in Key points and Analysis and comments are made without regard to sign.
4 International investment position statistics follow the balance of payments sign convention. For foreign liabilities, position data and any transaction increase or other flow increase in liabilities is shown without sign. A negative sign for transactions and other flows in liabilities denotes a fall in liabilities. For foreign assets, position data and any transaction increase or other flow increase in assets is shown with a negative sign. Transactions and other flows in assets shown without sign denote a decrease in assets.
5 Movements over time are expressed as percentage changes. A minus sign means a decrease in credit entries, a decrease in debit entries, a decrease in a surplus or an increase in a deficit. The absence of a sign means an increase in credit entries, an increase in debit entries, an increase in a surplus or a decrease in a deficit.
ACCURACY AND RELIABILITY
6 The transactions recorded in the balance of payments are of many different kinds, and therefore the compilation of balance of payments and international investment position estimates entails the use of a very wide range of statistical data of varying degrees of accuracy and timeliness.
7 Care should be exercised in the use and interpretation of estimates in this publication. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of estimates; for the latest quarter estimates for the non-goods items are based on preliminary data from providers (using careful estimates where exact figures are unavailable) and fewer survey responses than subsequent estimates. Also, detailed investigations into reported data may be ongoing. As late returns are received, investigations are finalised and more accurate data come to hand, revisions will be made to improve the quality of these estimates.
8 The quarterly current account series in this publication are affected to some extent by seasonal influences and it is useful to recognise and take account of this element of variation.
9 The seasonally adjusted statistics in this publication use the concurrent seasonal adjustment technique to estimate factors for the current and previous quarters. Under this method, the estimates of seasonal factors are fine tuned as new original estimates become available each period. The seasonally adjusted estimates are subject to revisions at each reference quarter as the estimates of seasonal factors are improved.
10 In Table 95 of AusStats, the ABS provides forward factors to clients wishing to undertake their own seasonal adjustment and trend processes. Since concurrent seasonal adjustment revises seasonal factors at each period, these forward factors are not used in the seasonal adjustment process undertaken by the ABS.
11 The trend estimates are derived by applying a 7-term Henderson moving average to the seasonally adjusted series. The 7-term Henderson average (like all Henderson averages) is symmetric, but as the end of a time series is approached, asymmetric forms of the average are applied. While the asymmetric weights enable trend estimates for recent quarters to be produced, it does result in revisions to the estimates for the most recent three quarters as additional observations become available. There may also be revisions because of changes in the original data and as a result of the re-estimation of the seasonal factors. For further information, see A Guide to Interpreting Time Series - Monitoring ‘Trends’, an Overview (1348.0) or contact Time Series Analysis Section on Canberra 02 6252 6076.
CHAIN VOLUME MEASURES
12 To enable analysis of the movement of goods and services in ‘real’ terms, estimates of chain volume measures are compiled and published each quarter. Chain volume measures are derived by deflating the original current price series by specially compiled measures of price change. The reference year for chain volume measures is the year prior to the latest complete financial year incorporated in this issue. The reference year is updated with the release of each June quarter issue of this publication. Prior to the reference year chain volume measures are non-additive, in that the component chain volume measures of an aggregate will not add through to the chain volume measure of the total aggregate. For further information on chain volume measures refer to the ABS publication Information Paper: Australian National Accounts, Introduction of Chain Volume and Price Indexes (5248.0), which was released on 19 March, 1998.
IMPLICIT PRICE DEFLATOR (IPD)
13 The quarterly implicit price deflators (IPDs) are derived by dividing current price estimates by the corresponding chain volume measures. Movements in IPDs can be greatly affected by changes in the physical composition of the aggregates and their components. The quarterly IPDs derived from seasonally adjusted data are preferred to those using original data because the seasonal adjustment process removes some of the seasonal changes in the composition of this series. However, the seasonal adjustment process itself is also a possible source of distortion.
TERMS OF TRADE
14 There are several ways of measuring the terms of trade. In the relevant AusStats tables associated with this publication, the following index is used:
Quarterly estimates of the terms of trade shown in table 6 of this publication are derived from seasonally adjusted data.
15 The chain Laspeyres indexes are derived by combining individual component prices with weights which reflect the average relative importance of the components in the previous year. These are then indexed to the relevant reference year. For all periods since the latest reference year, reference year weights are used.
DIRECT INVESTMENT ADJUSTMENT
16 Direct investment adjustments are made in AusStats tables 30, 31 and 32 to adjust total foreign assets and liabilities to the net basis for recording foreign investment in Australia (FIA) and Australian investment abroad (AIA). For both FIA and AIA, the adjustment is symmetrical and includes claims of Australian direct investment enterprises on direct investors abroad plus liabilities of Australian direct investors to direct investment enterprises abroad.
17 Foreign debt levels as recorded in tables 30, 31 and 32 in this publication between direct investors and direct investment enterprises are recorded on a gross basis for assets and liabilities. The direct investment adjustment is not applied in these tables.
18 In table 32 ‘currency’ refers to the currency in which assets or liabilities are likely to be repaid, while ‘residual maturity’ refers to the time remaining until an asset or liability is due to be fully repaid. Reserve assets are not allocated by currency. All reserve assets are allocated to the repayment category ‘less than or equal to 90 days’ although a range of maturities may be involved.
19 The industry categories shown are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 1993 (1292.0). Industry statistics should be treated with some caution as they do not necessarily reflect the industry of the end use of the funds. First, the statistical unit (that is, the unit of observation and classification) generally consists of all enterprises in an enterprise group within a single resident institutional sector. The industry of this statistical unit, which may cover a broad range of activities, is determined on the basis of the predominant activity of the unit as a whole which may be quite different from the industry in which funds are used. Second, financial enterprises such as trading and merchant banks, may borrow funds as principals and then on-lend to clients in other industries.
COMMODITY BREAKDOWNS OF GENERAL MERCHANDISE
20 Commodity breakdowns of general merchandise credits are provided in table 7 (at current prices), 9 (at current prices, seasonally adjusted), 11 (chain volume measures, seasonally adjusted) and 13 (implicit price deflators, seasonally adjusted). The groupings shown are based on the third revision of the United Nations' Standard International Trade Classification (SITC Rev 3). For further details see table 6.6 in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (5331.0).
21 Commodity breakdowns of general merchandise debits are provided in table 8 (at current prices), 10 (at current prices, seasonally adjusted) 12 (chain volume measures, seasonally adjusted) and 14 (implicit price deflators, seasonally adjusted). The three broad end-use categories - Consumption goods, Capital goods and Intermediate and other merchandise goods - are based on United Nations’ Classification of Broad Economic Categories (BEC), but differ from the BEC to the extent that intermediate goods are combined with other merchandise goods. These broad end-use categories are further divided into a total of 25 SITC Rev 3-based commodity groupings, which have also been aligned to the BEC.
22 Table 6.7 in 5331.0 provides details of the classification used for goods debits. Most of the 25 SITC Rev 3-based commodity groups are further sub-divided into a total of 106 commodity sub-groups. Although the information at this level is not published, it is available as a special data service, see paragraph 28.
23 For more information on the commodity classification of general merchandise debits and a detailed concordance between balance of payments general merchandise debits end-use categories, commodity groups, BEC and SITC Rev 3, refer to the ABS Information Paper: Change to Commodity Classification of Merchandise Imports in Balance of Payments Publications (5344.0).
TOURISM RELATED SERVICES
24 The tourism related services memorandum items provide timely indicators of the movements in tourism related activities, not an absolute measure of the level of these activities. These series are not complied on a Balance of Payments conceptual basis. However, they do provide a reasonable approximation of world tourism related activities.
25 The memorandum items have been derived by re-aggregating relevant components of the international trade in services series of the balance of payments accounts. The tourism related indicator has been derived by combining total travel services (business, education-related and other personal travel), passenger fares, and the air transport component of other transportation services which relates to agency fees and commission receipts.
26 Discrepancies may occur between totals in this publication and the same aggregates from other sources, and between sums of component items and totals due to rounding.
RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
27 Users may also wish to refer to the following publications which can be downloaded free of charge from the ABS web site:
28 Estimates for periods prior to those shown in this publication are available from AusStats. Detailed data on exports and imports of goods, including dissections by commodity and country of origin, are also available from AusStats on an international trade basis (see tables 8a to 11b and 13 to 19 of 5368.0 or tables released with 5439.0). If more detailed data is required it can be obtained by contacting the Client Service telephone number shown on the back of this publication. There may be a charge for this information, depending on the volume of data requested.
- Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (5331.0)
- International Trade Price Indexes (6457.0) - quarterly
- Information Paper: Implementing New International Statistical Standards in ABS International Accounts Statistics (5364.0) - irregular, issued on 29 September 1997
- Information Paper: Upgraded Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Statistics (5365.0) - irregular, issued on 24 November 1997
- Information Paper: Quality of Australian Balance of Payments Statistics (5342.0)
- International Merchandise Imports, Australia (5439.0) - monthly
- International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (5368.0) - monthly
29 Detailed quarterly general merchandise chain volume measures can be obtained by contacting the ABS on Canberra 02 6252 6255. These series are based on international trade statistics (i.e. they are not adjusted to a balance of payments basis) and relate to selected divisions and sections of the SITC Rev 3. Quarterly tables showing components of services can also be obtained from the ABS on Canberra 02 6252 6255. These tables provide original and seasonally adjusted current price and chain volume measures, corresponding to the series shown (in original current price terms) in tables 17 and 18 of this publication. Both sets of measures are working estimates only and may not always be completely consistent with published measures.