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5368.0 - International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, Nov 2004  
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Feature Article - Australia's Importers, 2003-04


INTRODUCTION

This is the fourth in a series of articles analysing the characteristics and international trading activities of Australia's importers, based on the Australian Business Number (ABN). Australia's Exporters, 2003-04 was released on the ABS web site, concurrently with the October 2004 issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (Cat. no. 5368.0), on 10 December 2003.


Estimates for importers of merchandise (businesses that import goods) are compiled from data sourced from the Australian Customs Service (Customs) and from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Australian Business Register. Estimates for importers of services, compiled from the ABS Survey of International Trade in Services are also included.


The estimates are subject to limitations in terms of the data available and methodology applied:

      a. consistent with previous studies, businesses which imported goods totalling less than $10,000 in 2003-04 are excluded from the estimates of number of importers;
      b. service importers include businesses which receive services from off-shore businesses to their operations in Australia, i.e. supply modes 1 and 4 in the classification used by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). However, smaller and / or occasional service importers are unlikely to come to ABS notice and are therefore not included in the estimates. The number of excluded businesses may be significant, but the value of their imports is not thought to be appreciable in the totality of service imports. The ABS continues to try to identify these businesses and incorporate them into its surveys;
      c. service importers exclude businesses that only supply goods or services to Australian residents while they are overseas (supply mode 2), such as hotels, restaurants, retail, tourist facilities, transport, theatres, educational institutions, etc. They also exclude Australian-owned businesses located overseas receiving goods or services in the country in which they are located (usually called foreign affiliates trade - supply mode 3), because their trade does not directly contribute to Australia's imports of goods and services;
      d. Australian businesses which receive goods or services from other businesses which undertake the importing function are excluded. For example, many products are imported into Australia by wholesalers who on-sell to the end consumer.

As the analysis has been undertaken on imports data extracted from earlier publication cycles, the value of imports of goods and services shown in the tables in this article are not necessarily consistent with those shown in the November 2004 issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (Cat. no. 5368.0). In addition, the value of goods imports is on a merchandise trade basis, while the value of service imports is on a balance of payments basis. This has no effect on the estimates of the number of importers and minimal effect on the analysis of import values.



NUMBER OF IMPORTERS

The number of importers in 2003-04 as shown in Table F1 was estimated to be 61,632 an increase of 3,109 from the estimate of the number of importers in 2002-03. In the same period, the total value of imports of goods and services fell by $767m to $165.3b.


The number of goods importers was estimated to be 60,661 in 2003-04, an increase of 3,328 (6%). The increase was mostly in importers in the $10,000 and less than $100,000 category, up by 2,209 (7%). The number of service importers fell by 91 to 2,150. Of the businesses engaged in service imports, 1,179 (55%) were also goods importers. Adjusting for the duplication, the total number of importers was derived at 61,632.

TABLE F1: IMPORTERS

Importers
Value of imports
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2003-04
no.
no.
no.
$m
$m
$m
%

Goods importers
$100m or more
163
182
178
56,309
66,691
64,963
49.6
$1m and less than $100m
8,029
8,442
8,493
56,325
58,985
58,188
44.4
$100,000 and less than $1m
16,864
17,821
18,893
5,765
6,137
6,424
4.9
$10,000 and less than $100,000
29,329
30,888
33,097
1,058
1,113
1,196
0.9
Other goods importers
na
na
na
193
204
231
0.2
Total goods importers
54,385
57,333
60,661
119,649
133,130
131,002
100.0
Services importers
Businesses importing services(a)
$100m or more
na
29
23
na
7,486
7,305
21.3
$1m and less than $100m
na
782
763
na
6,101
6,201
18.1
Less than $1m
na
1,430
1,364
na
359
337
1.0
Total
2,300
2,241
2,150
13,970
13,946
13,843
40.4
Freight Services(b)
na
na
na
5,626
5,808
6,056
17.7
Other service importers(c)
na
na
na
13,035
13,137
14,353
41.9
Total service importers
2,300
2,241
2,150
32,631
32,891
34,252
100.0
Total importers(d)
55,355
58,523
61,632
152,280
166,021
165,254
. .

. . not applicable
na not available
(a) Excludes services to Australian travellers overseas. See exclusions in the introduction to this article.
(b) No estimate has been made for the number of importers of freight services, as the Survey of International Trade in Services is not used to measure these imports.
(c) Includes travel, insurance, financial and government services. Numbers of importers cannot be estimated for these service types, as the Survey of International Trade in Services is not used to measure these imports.
(d) The total number of importers excludes duplication from businesses which import both goods and services.


GOODS IMPORTERS

Value of Imports

As shown in Table F1, the 178 largest goods importers, each with imports worth $100m or more, accounted for half ($65b) of Australia's goods imports in 2003-04. There were 8,671 businesses that imported goods worth $1m or more, together accounting for $123b (94%) of goods imports.


Another 18,893 businesses imported goods valued between $100,000 and $1m, accounting for $6.4b (5%) of goods imports in 2003-04. Over half (33,097) of Australia's goods importers had imports valued between $10,000 and $100,000 during 2003-04, accounting for $1.2b (1%) of goods imports in that period.


Industry

Most goods imports were by the wholesale trade (46% by value) and manufacturing (35%) industries, as shown in Table F2. Together these accounted for $106b (81%) of Australia's $131b of goods imports during 2003-04. The next most significant industry was retail trade with $7.6b (6%) of goods imports.


Imports by machinery and equipment manufacturers, and machinery and motor vehicle wholesalers, together accounted for over $50b (39%) of Australia's total goods imports.

Table F2: IMPORTS OF GOODS, Industry of importer - 2003-04

Importers(a)
Value of goods imports
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2003-04
Industry of importer
no.
no.
no.
$m
$m
$m
%

Agriculture, forestry and fishing
928
977
1,134
455
491
488
0.4
Mining
282
303
336
4,407
5,237
5,132
3.9
Manufacturing
Food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing
761
828
817
2,833
3,193
2,875
2.2
Textile, clothing, footwear and leather manufacturing
1,246
1,273
1,282
1,968
2,007
1,838
1.4
Wood and paper product manufacturing
428
458
486
1,256
1,448
1,536
1.2
Printing, publishing and recorded media
673
698
770
1,269
1,325
1,334
1.0
Petroleum, coal, chemical and associated product manufacturing
1,204
1,261
1,301
12,485
16,016
12,247
9.3
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing
375
409
428
357
389
405
0.3
Metal product manufacturing
1,105
1,194
1,232
4,263
4,659
4,481
3.4
Machinery and equipment manufacturing
3,201
3,303
3,419
17,906
17,865
17,457
13.3
Other manufacturing
1,120
1,188
1,262
1,226
1,176
1,149
0.9
Total
10,113
10,612
10,997
43,563
48,078
45,322
34.6
Electricity, gas and water supply
104
111
129
132
109
77
0.1
Construction
1,232
1,560
1,733
1,061
1,227
1,212
0.9
Wholesale trade
Basic material wholesaling
2,126
2,467
2,800
8,097
6,850
8,043
6.1
Machinery and motor vehicle wholesaling
5,099
5,439
5,883
28,292
31,959
33,048
25.2
Personal and household good wholesaling
8,602
9,057
9,725
18,299
19,802
19,596
15.0
Total
15,827
16,963
18,408
54,687
58,610
60,687
46.3
Retail trade
Food retailing
373
460
515
468
540
619
0.5
Personal and household good retailing
5,734
6,368
6,914
5,560
6,037
6,018
4.6
Motor vehicle retailing and services
896
961
1,045
886
1,000
984
0.8
Total
7,003
7,789
8,474
6,914
7,577
7,621
5.8
Accommodation, cafes and restaurants
230
279
307
42
185
196
0.1
Transport and storage
717
744
807
2,943
5,864
4,526
3.5
Communication services
252
275
320
371
367
410
0.3
Finance and insurance
933
985
1,102
1,344
1,311
983
0.8
Property and business services
3,409
3,948
4,393
1,876
2,053
2,478
1.9
Government administration and defence
176
173
201
np
np
np
np
Education
173
209
199
50
np
np
np
Health and community services
386
396
453
171
125
129
0.1
Cultural and recreational services
619
694
774
207
264
326
0.2
Personal and other services
509
608
693
184
208
255
0.2
Other
54
130
17
np
np
np
np
Industry not known
11,438
10,557
10,184
(b). .
(b). .
(b). .
(b). .
All industries
54,385
57,313
60,661
119,649
133,130
131,002
100.0

. . not applicable
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
(a) Includes only those businesses that imported at least $10,000 of goods.
(b) The value of imports with 'Industry not known' has been prorated across industries that imported the same commodities.


Size of Business

Two different size measures are used for goods importers in this article. They are the value of imports (see Table F1) and size of business (Table F3). Traditionally, the ABS has only used employment to determine the size of a business because this has been the only sizing variable generally available. Many significant importers were found not to have large employment.


For the purpose of this analysis, size of business has been defined in terms of three variables - employment, estimated annual turnover (both from the Australian Business Register) and value of imports (from Customs):

  • small businesses - having fewer than 20 employees and estimated annual turnover less than $1m and imports of less than $1m during 2003-04;
  • large businesses - having 200 or more employees or estimated annual turnover of $20m or more or imports of $20m or more during 2003-04; and
  • medium businesses - all businesses other than those defined as small or large.

There were 4,532 large goods importers in 2003-04, accounting for $107b (82%) of goods imports. The 20,822 medium sized importers accounted for $21b (16%) of goods imports. They were most prevalent in the manufacturing and wholesale trade industries, accounting for 52% and 45% of importers in those industries. Fifty-eight percent (35,307) of Australia's goods importers were small businesses. They contributed $2.5b (2%) of goods imports.

TABLE F3a: IMPORTS OF GOODS, Size of business by Industry of Importer - 2003-04

Number of importers(a)
Large
Medium
Small
Total(b)
Large
Medium
Small
Total
Industry of exporter
no.
no.
no.
no.
%
%
%
%

Mining
117
121
98
336
34.8
36.0
29.2
100.0
Manufacturing
1,431
5,654
3,912
10,997
13.0
51.4
35.6
100.0
Wholesale trade
1,230
8,241
8,937
18,408
6.7
44.8
48.5
100.0
Retail Trade
370
2,626
5,478
8,474
4.4
31.0
64.6
100.0
Transport and storage
178
300
329
807
22.1
37.2
40.8
100.0
Finance and insurance
135
273
694
1,102
12.3
24.8
63.0
100.0
Property and business services
291
1,468
2,634
4,393
6.6
33.4
60.0
100.0
Other
780
2,026
3,154
5,960
13.1
34.0
52.9
100.0
Industry not known
-
113
10,071
10,184
13.1
34.0
52.9
100.0
Total goods importers
4,532
20,822
35,307
60,661
7.5
34.3
58.2
100.0

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Includes only those businesses that imported at least $10,000 of goods.
(b) Importers who did not report an ABN have been allocated as size of business based only on their imports: large business if imports valued at $20m or more, medium business if imports valued between $1m and $20m, small business if imports valued at less than $1m.

TABLE F3b: IMPORTS OF GOODS, Size of Business - By Industry of Importer - 2003-04

Value of Goods Imports
Large
Medium
Small
Total
Large
Medium
Small
Total
Industry of importer
$m
$m
$m
$m
%
%
%
%

Mining
4,992
131
10
5,133
97.3
2.6
0.2
100.0
Manufacturing
40,334
4,627
360
45,321
89.0
10.2
0.8
100.0
Wholesale trade
47,408
12,222
1,057
60,687
78.1
20.1
1.7
100.0
Retail Trade
5,284
1,871
466
7,621
69.3
24.6
6.1
100.0
Transport and storage
4,298
199
29
4,526
95.0
4.4
0.6
100.0
Finance and insurance
655
263
65
983
66.6
26.8
6.6
100.0
Property and business services
1,315
939
225
2,479
53.0
37.9
9.1
100.0
Other
3,044
958
250
4,252
71.6
22.5
5.9
100.0
Industry not known(a)
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
Total goods importers
107,330
21,210
2,462
131,002
81.9
16.2
1.9
100.0

. . not applicable
(a) The value of imports with 'Industry not known' were prorated across industries that imported the same commodities.


State of destination

New South Wales and Victoria were the state of destination of almost three quarters of Australia's goods imports in 2003-04, as shown in Table F4. These two States accounted for 79% ($48.2b) of imports by the wholesaling and 65% ($29.4b) of imports by the manufacturing industry.

TABLE F4: IMPORTS OF GOODS, Industry of Importer by State of Destination of Commodity - 2003-04

New South Wales
Victoria
Queensland
South Australia
Western Australia
Tasmania
Other
Total goods imports
Industry of importer
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m

Mining
np
np
1,180
41
778
15
np
5,133
Manufacturing
15,615
13,802
6,970
2,736
5,740
385
73
45,321
Wholesale trade
29,159
19,052
6,677
1,793
3,899
53
54
60,687
Retail trade
3,316
2,391
1,154
247
491
12
9
7,621
Finance and insurance
353
295
110
37
173
3
11
983
Property and business services
np
np
347
90
177
1
np
2,479
Other
3,229
2,914
1,597
222
436
203
178
8,778
Total goods imports
53,777
40,751
18,036
5,167
11,694
672
905
131,002

np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated


GOODS EXPORTERS AND IMPORTERS

Table F5 shows that of the 60,661 businesses with goods imports worth $10,000 or more during 2003-04, 12,702 (21%) also exported goods valued at $10,000 or more. Of the 8,671 businesses with goods imports of $1m or more, 17% (1,481) also exported goods valued at $1m or more in 2003-04. Businesses with imports valued between $10,000 and $100,000 were the least likely to have also exported goods with only 9% (3,000) of these exported goods worth $10,000 or more in 2003-04.

F5: Goods Exporters and Importers - 2003-04

Value of goods imports
$100m or more
$1m and less than $100m
$100,000 and less than $1m
$10,000 and less than $100,000
Other(a)
Total goods exporters
Value of goods exports
no.
no.
no.
no.
no.
no.

$100m or more
24
46
15
8
99
192
$1m and less than $100m
101
1,310
520
315
1,690
3,936
$100,000 and less than $1m
17
1,949
1,555
949
4,891
9,361
$10,000 and less than $100,000
10
1,644
2,511
1,728
10,173
16,066
Other(b)
26
3,544
14,292
30,097
na
na
Total goods importers
178
8,493
18,893
33,097
na
(c). .

. . not applicable
na not available
(a) Includes businesses whose imports are not known or valued at less than $10,000.
(b) Includes businesses whose exports are not known or valued at less than $10,000.
(c) Total goods exporters were 29,555 and total goods importers were 60,661.


SERVICE IMPORTERS

Value of Imports

As shown in Table F1, businesses importing services were dominated by a small number of importers, with just 23 businesses accounting for 21% ($7.3b) of Australia's total service imports in 2003-04. There were 763 (35%) service importers with imports between $1m and $100m, accounting for 18% of total service imports. Almost two-thirds (1,364) of identified importers of services had imports worth less than $1m in 2003-04.


Imports of services includes the value of freight services on imports provided by non-residents. Goods importers are also therefore importers of freight services. However, it is not considered analytically useful to include in the count of importers of services those businesses whose only service imports are freight services associated with the importation of goods.


The value of freight attributable to these importers is shown separately in Table F1. Previously, this was allocated to the size of business based on the value of goods imported. The estimates for 2001-02 and 2002-03 have been amended to reflect this change in approach. The businesses are included in the count of goods importers, but are not included in the count of services importers.


Service Type

The service types with the highest numbers of importers in 2003-04 were other business services (1,825), royalties and licence fees (1,323) and communication services (1,287), as shown in Table F6. Transportation services had the highest value of imports per business, averaging $179m per importer in 2003-04.

Table F6: Imports of Services, Type of Service - 2003-04

Importers(a)
Total service imports
Total service imports
Average service imports per business
Type of service
no.
$m
%
$m

Transportation services
65
11,634
34.0
179
Travel services
(b). .
12,136
35.4
(b). .
Communication services
1,287
879
2.6
1
Insurance services
(b). .
874
2.6
(b). .
Financial services
(b). .
587
1.7
(b). .
Computer and information services
952
1,009
2.9
1
Royalties and licence fees
1,323
1,988
5.8
2
Other business services
1,825
3,515
10.3
2
Personal, cultural and recreational services
637
874
2.6
1
Government services n.i.e.
(b). .
756
2.2
(b). .
Total service importers
2,151
34,252
100.0
. .

. . not applicable
(a) Businesses may import more than one type of service.
(b) Number of importers cannot be estimated as the Survey of International Trade in Services is not used to measure imports of this service type.


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