Australian Bureau of Statistics
5489.0 - International Merchandise Trade, Australia, Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/05/2001
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7.5 In providing a national statistical service, the ABS operates with due regard to the public benefit generated from access to statistics, and to government policies such as user pays and access and equity. ABS objectives in dissemination are to achieve widespread dissemination of information, while partially recovering the costs involved in providing products and services. The balancing of public good obligations and user pays principles underpins the ABS dissemination and pricing policy.
7.10 Only broad summary data are included in the monthly publications. However, once the monthly publications are issued, the full range of statistics available for release are disseminated to clients using a variety of mechanisms. Selected export statistics may also be accessed electronically, at any time after their release, via International Merchandise Exports, Australia - on AusStats (Cat. no. 5432.0.65.001), a web service containing all ABS statistics, available on subscription.
7.11 For the quarterly publication, the most up to date monthly statistics are aggregated. The quarterly publication includes analyses of the data and feature articles on different aspects of trade statistics. Once released, data at the most detailed levels are at all times available through ABS Information Consultancy.
7.12 International merchandise trade statistics are subject to revision after they are initially published, although the revisions made are typically quite small as a proportion of the monthly trade results. Revisions may arise because:
7.13 Prior to July 2000, export and import records were stored on transactions files for eighteen months and six months respectively. This was to ensure that there was sufficient opportunity to apply all amendments received by Customs or arising from ABS investigations. The low rate of amendment to previous figures, and improvements to the timeliness of receipt of amendments, has reduced the need for access to previous transactions.
7.14 As the ABS now only holds six months prior data for exports, and three months prior data for imports, on its transaction files, future revisions will normally be restricted to these periods. Revisions outside these periods, on account of errors in the data, will only be made if the value of the amendment is quite substantial.
7.15 The need to backcast series, i.e. revise previously published data to put it on a new basis, due to classification changes, is considered on a case by case basis. In the case of the replacement of the ASIC by the ANZSIC in 1993, international merchandise trade statistics were presented on an ANZSIC basis from December quarter 1993, with data backcast on that basis to January 1988.
7.16 The Harmonized System was introduced by Australia in January 1988. No backcasting of data was undertaken, but statistics were compiled on both the old and the new bases from January to June 1988. The subsequent revision to the Harmonized System implemented in July 1996 affected data published from that time, but data released in respect of previous periods retained the previous classifications. The changes made were not major ones. As indicated in Chapter 4, the ABS maintains a range of concordances to allow the comparison of data across classification changes.
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