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5368.0.55.009 - Information Paper: Changes to international trade statistics July 2008, 2007 to 2008  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/01/2008  First Issue
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INTRODUCTION

This information paper summarises changes that will be made to the classification of Australian import and export statistics. The United Nations has issued an update to the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) which the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will implement from the July 2008 reference month. SITC is the United Nations' recommended classification for presenting merchandise trade statistics and is the underlying classification scheme for balance of payments (BoP) goods statistics. As a consequence of the changes to SITC, a number of related international trade classifications will be impacted.

This paper briefly sets out the background to the changes, the treatment in time series and the arrangements for electronically accessing SITC and related correspondences. The correspondences available include SITC Revision 4 to:
  • SITC Revision 3
  • Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC), and
  • Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification (Customs Tariff).

BACKGROUND

Australian import and export statistics are based on documents lodged with the Australian Customs Service. These documents require exported or imported commodities to be classified to a detailed international classification, the Harmonized System (HS). To facilitate the analysis of import and export statistics, the ABS allocates (via correlation tables or correspondences) the detailed HS classification to a number of broader classifications.

Since the introduction of the SITC Revision 3 in 1988, the United Nations Statistical Division has issued appropriate correlation tables (at the HS 6 digit to SITC 5 digit level) between SITC Revision 3 and each new edition of the HS. However, strict period-to-period comparability was lost for a growing number of series as significant changes were made to ensure the HS reflected the latest developments in technology and traded goods. SITC Revision 4 addresses these anomalies.

SITC Revision 4 was released internationally along with the 1 January 2007 HS changes. The Australian Customs Service and ABS implemented the changes to the HS on 1 January 2007 but additional work was required by ABS to implement the revision to SITC. In the meantime, AHECC and Customs Tariff codes continue to be allocated to SITC Revision 3.

SITC Revision 4 retains the overall structure of SITC Revision 3 and consists of the same number of sections, divisions and groups. Changes were made at the level of basic headings and some subgroups. SITC Revision 4 has resulted in 238 basic headings of SITC Revision 3 being deleted and 87 new basic headings being introduced. As a result of those deletions and additions, SITC Revision 4 contains 2,970 basic headings. Some of the changes to basic headings and subgroups impact on the scope of the higher level sections, divisions and groups. The format of SITC Revision 3 and Revision 4 is summarised in the following table.

Table 1: Format of SITC Revision 3 and SITC Revision 4


SITC hierarchy
SITC Revision 3
(No.)
SITC Revision 4
(No.)

Sections
10
10
Divisions
67
67
Groups
262
262
Subgroups
1 033
1 023
Basic headings
3 121
2 970


Australian import and export statistics are also presented on a Broad Economic Category (BEC) basis. The United Nations Statistical Division has not revised the BEC classification, however, they have released a new correspondence between the HS 6 digit and BEC and intend to release a correspondence between SITC Revision 4 and BEC.

The ABS will apply the new correspondence between the HS and BEC at the same time as SITC Revision 4 is introduced.

TIME SERIES

The ABS presents two key time series for import and export statistics. The first is on a 'recorded trade' (or merchandise trade) basis reflecting the information submitted to the Australian Customs Service. The second is on a 'balance of payments' basis which includes coverage, timing and valuation adjustments to convert the recorded trade data to a balance of payments basis. SITC Revision 4 will impact differently on both series.

A list of recorded trade and balance of payments series presented according to the affected classifications is attached.

IMPORT AND EXPORT STATISTICS ON A RECORDED TRADE BASIS

The main ABS output datastore only allows import and export statistics for each specific period to be stored against one version of SITC (ie either Revision 3 or Revision 4). SITC Revision 4 will be introduced for Australian import and export statistics from the July 2008 reference month.

Up to and including the release of the June 2008 reference month, import and export statistics will be only available on a SITC Revision 3 basis. With the release of the July 2008 reference month, clients will be able to access international trade data:
  • on a SITC Revision 4 basis for the 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08 and future financial years
  • on a SITC Revision 3 basis for financial years prior to 2005-06.

The ABS is considering retaining a limited amount of data on a SITC Revision 3 basis for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 financial years and making it available as a special data service.

BEC correspondence changes will also be introduced with the July 2008 reference month. From the issue of this reference month the following data will be available on a BEC basis:
  • data for the 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 financial years will be only available on a new correspondence basis
  • data for financial years prior to 2005-06 will not change as it will not be recompiled according to the new correspondence.

The introduction of SITC Revision 4 will have some impact on data presented according to the broader levels of SITC. The ABS intends to analyse the impact at the SITC 1 and 2 digit levels by early 2008. Data on a BEC basis will also be impacted, however, due to the broad nature of the categories in the classification, the impact on data is expected to be small. The results of the analysis will be included in an information paper associated with International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) scheduled for release in May 2008.

IMPORT AND EXPORT STATISTICS ON A BALANCE OF PAYMENTS BASIS

Goods credits (exports) on a balance of payments basis are presented according to SITC and the BoP Commodity of Export (BoPCE) which is primarily defined in terms of SITC.

Goods debits (imports) are presented according to Balance of Payments Broad Economic Category (BoPBEC) which is based on a combination of BEC and SITC.

The introduction of SITC Revision 4 will impact on both the BoPCE and BoPBEC. The significance of this impact is being investigated and will be discussed in the information paper scheduled for release in May 2008.

Details are still to be confirmed but it is planned that if any impacts on the balance of payments series are identified, the series will be revised, as appropriate, to ensure that there is no break in these series.

ACCESSING SITC REVISION 4 AND RELATED CORRESPONDENCES

The full version of the SITC Rev.4 is available at: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/trade/SITC%20Rev%204%20FINAL.pdf

The following classification correspondences can be accessed from the datacubes available from the details tab of this information paper:

SITC
  • SITC Revision 3 to SITC Revision 4
  • SITC Revision 4 to SITC Revision 3
  • AHECC to SITC Revision 4
  • SITC Revision 4 to AHECC
  • Customs Tariff to SITC Revision 4
  • SITC Revision 4 to Customs Tariff
BEC
  • AHECC to BEC
  • BEC to AHECC
  • Customs Tariff to BEC
  • BEC to Customs Tariff

BoPBEC
  • Customs Tariff to BoPBEC
  • BoPBEC to Customs Tariff

A paper defining the BoP Commodity of Export in terms of SITC Revision 4 will be included on the Balance of Payments Theme Page on the ABS website by May 2008.

FURTHER INFORMATION

If you have any difficulties accessing the SITC or the correspondences from the ABS web site, or if you require further information about the changes, please:
  • visit the ABS website and select the Foreign Trade Theme Page; or
  • write, email or telephone:

Balance of Payments and International Trade Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
PO Box 10
BELCONNEN ACT 2616

ph: 02 6252 5409

email: international.trade@abs.gov.au

ABBREVIATIONS

ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics
AHECCAustralian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification
BECBroad Economic Category
BoPBalance of Payments
BoPBECBalance of Payments Broad Economic Category
BoPCE Balance of Payments Commodity of Export
Customs Tariff Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification
HSHarmonized System
SITC Standard International Trade Classification


ATTACHMENT

MERCHANDISE TRADE AND BALANCE OF PAYMENTS STATISTICS PRESENTED BY SELECTED CLASSIFICATIONS

The following tables summarise the tables in the key merchandise trade and Balance of Payments publications which present data according to the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC), the Broad Economic Category (BEC), Balance of Payments Broad Economic Category (BoPBEC) and the BoP Commodity of Export (BoPCE). The tables exclude merchandise trade data available from ABS Client Services.

International Merchandise Imports, Australia (cat. no. 5439.0)

Table*ClassificationLevelDetails
1SITC1 and 2 digitMerchandise trade - Imports
3SITCSelected 2 and 3 digitMerchandise trade - Imports
4SITCOne 3 digit item Merchandise trade - Quantity of Petroleum imports
7 BoPBEC1 and 2 digitMerchandise trade - Imports
8BoPBEC4 digitMerchandise trade - Imports by country, last 7 months
9 BoPBEC1 and 2 digitMerchandise trade - Imports by country, last 7 months
* 5439.0 tables 2, 5 and 6 present merchandise imports data by country and state.

International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0)

Table*ClassificationLevelDetails
1BoPCE and BoPBEC1 digitBoP - Exports and Imports, seasonally adjusted and trend
2BoPCE and BoPBEC1 digit BoP - Exports and Imports, original
3BoPCE2 digitBoP- Exports, original
4BoPBEC2 digitBoP- Imports, original
5BoPCE2 digitBoP- Exports, seasonally adjusted
6BoPBEC2 digitBoP- Imports, seasonally adjusted
7BoPCE2 digitBoP- Exports, trend
8BoPBEC2 digitBoP- Imports, trend
12SITC1 and 2 digit (table a) with some 3 digit in pub but all 3 digit available electronically (table b)Merchandise trade - Exports
13SITC1 and 2 digit (table a) with some 3 digit in pub but all 3 digit available electronically (table b)Merchandise trade - Imports
31BEC3 digitMerchandise trade - Exports
33BEC3 digitMerchandise trade - Imports
34BoPBEC4 digitMerchandise trade - Imports
* Other tables in 5368.0 present recorded trade data by state, country and industry;services data; exchange rates; and, seasonal factors)

Balance of payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0)

Table*LevelContentDetails
5BoPCE and BoPBEC1 digitBoP - Exports and Imports, seasonally adjusted and trend
7BoPCE1 and 2 digitBoP - Exports, original
8BoPBEC1 and 2 digitBoP - Imports, original
9BoPCE1 and 2 digitBoP - Exports, seasonally adjusted
10BoPBEC1 and 2 digitBoP - Imports, seasonally adjusted
11BoPCE1 and 2 digitBoP - Exports, chain volume measures, seasonally adjusted
12BoPBEC1 and 2 digitBoP - Imports, chain volume measures, seasonally adjusted
13BoPCE1 and 2 digitBoP - Exports, implicit price deflators, seasonally adjusted
14BoPBEC1 and 2 digitBoP - Imports, implicit price deflators, seasonally adjusted
57BoPCE1 and 2 digitBoP - Exports, original, financial year
58BoPBEC1 and 2 digitBoP - Imports, original, financial year
63BoPCE1 and 2 digitBoP - Exports, implicit price deflators, seasonally adjusted, financial year
64BoPBEC1 and 2 digitBoP - Imports, implicit price deflators, seasonally adjusted, financial year
101SITC1 and 2 digit BoP - Exports, chain volume measures
102SITC1 and 2 digit BoP - Exports, implicit price deflators
103SITC1 and 2 digitMerchandise trade - Exports, chain volume measures
104SITC1 and 2 digitMerchandise trade - Exports, implicit price deflators
105BoPBEC1, 2 and 3 digitBoP - Imports, chain volume measures
106BoPBEC1, 2 and 3 digitBoP - Imports, implicit price deflators
107SITC1 and 2 digitMerchandise trade - Imports, chain volume measures
108SITC1 and 2 digitMerchandise trade - Imports, implicit price deflators
114BoPCE1 and 2 digitBoP - Exports, chain volume measures, original
115BoPBEC1 and 2 digitBoP - Imports, chain volume measures, original
214BoPCE1 and 2 digitBoP - Exports, chain volume measures, financial year
215BoPBEC1 and 2 digitBoP - Imports, chain volume measures, financial year
* Other tables in 5302.0 present data on international investment position, services and other components of the balance of payments.

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