6.1 International merchandise trade statistics are confidentialised to prevent the identification of the activities of individual exporters and importers, where this is requested by the individual or organisation concerned and it is determined that their data would otherwise be identifiable.
6.2 The purpose of this chapter is to outline the legislative basis for the confidentiality procedures applied, the types of restrictions used, the effect of confidentiality restrictions on the statistics released, how individuals or organisations can request restrictions for data they consider confidential, and how the ABS handles these requests.
6.3 Aggregate international merchandise trade statistics are potentially available in a great deal of detail, but not all possible cross-classifications are released. Restrictions are placed on the release of statistics where the data for an individual or an organisation is identifiable, and that entity has requested that the data be suppressed. In practice, the way that a restriction is achieved is to combine the sensitive information with data in other cells.
6.4 There are many reasons why an individual or an organisation may request suppression of data. These include:
- the individual / organisation may not want the total value and / or unit value of its imports or exports to be known, as such information may be commercially sensitive;
- the individual / organisation may want to protect details of the quantity of certain goods it trades, or the countries from which it imports or to which it exports;
- an imported commodity may be the subject of an anti-dumping enquiry; or
- exports to, or imports from, certain countries may be politically sensitive and the individual / organisation may be concerned that the disclosure of the country of origin / destination may provoke protests or boycotting from other countries or some sections of the local community.