5368.0.55.006 - Characteristics of Australian Exporters, 2015-16  
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EXPLANATORY NOTES

INTRODUCTION

1 This publication provides an analysis of the characteristics and international trading activities of Australian exporters. This publication presents estimates for financial years 2013-14 to 2015-16 for exporters of goods and services. A revised methodology was introduced last year and has been used in the collection of data related to exporters of goods data. Therefore care should be taken when comparing data on characteristics of goods exporters in this publication with data from issues of this publication before last year.

2 During 2013, the Survey of International Trade in Services (SITS) migrated to an Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register (ABSBR) based frame, with frame and selection frequency changing from annual to quarterly. This change in frequency, together with revisions to the survey stratification design implemented in September quarter 2013, has required the introduction of a new methodology for estimating the number of services exporters. As a result, estimates of counts of services exporters for financial years 2013-14 to 2015-16 are not directly comparable with estimates provided in previous editions of this publication, and therefore these series (as presented in Tables 1.1, 1.2, 10.1 and 10.2) commence with 2013-14.

3 The statistical unit for exporters of goods is the Type of Activity Unit (TAU), where possible. For more information on this see the 'What is an exporter?' and 'Statistical unit' sections below in paragraphs 8 to 19. The same statistical unit is used to collect data on both exporters of goods and services, and because the data on the ABSBR has been edited to be consistent with ABS standards and concepts. This statistical unit is used as the basis for compiling statistics across the ABS, including Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (cat. no. 8165.0).

4 Having a consistent statistical unit also means that the total number of exporters can be estimated, and is presented in Table 1.1. This total is the number of businesses that have exported goods and/or services. The difference between the total number of exporters and the sum of the number of exporters of goods and the number of exporters of services represents the number of exporters of both goods and services.


CHANGES TO THIS AND FORTHCOMING ISSUES

5 Tables 5.1 and 5.2 from the previous issue of this publication have not been published. Tables 5.3 and 5.4 have been renumbered to 5.1 and 5.2 respectively. Table 8.1 from the previous issue of this publication has not been published. Table 8.2 has been renumbered to Table 8.


DATA SOURCES

6 Estimates relating to exporters of merchandise goods are compiled from data sourced from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and from the ABSBR. The total count of all actively trading businesses (whether exporting or not) can be obtained from Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (cat. no. 8165.0).

7 Estimates relating to exporters of services are derived from the SITS.


WHAT IS AN EXPORTER?

8 An exporter is defined as the owner of the exported good or the provider of the exported service.

9 The statistical unit for exporters in this publication is the TAU which are collectively stored on the ABSBR. For further information on the statistical unit see paragraphs 18 to 22. The process of identifying the TAU for goods exporters is:

  • DIBP documentation for each goods export includes an ABN or a Customs Client Identifier (CCID) identifying the owner of the goods. The CCID is an identifier provided by DIBP to exporting businesses that do not have, or do not report, an ABN.
  • ABNs are mapped to their identified TAU on the ABSBR.
  • CCIDs, which cannot be mapped to the ABSBR are treated as statistical units.

10 Exporters of services are identified by their TAU.

11 Information on exporters of goods is compiled from merchandise trade statistics and is usually consistent with balance of payments principles. In a small number of cases a non-resident may own the goods at the time of departure. Generally, there would have been a transaction occurring between an Australian resident and a non-resident prior to the goods physically leaving Australia. Therefore, it is assumed for the purpose of these statistics that all owners of goods at the time of export of the goods are Australian residents and are included in the counts of exporters.

12 There are a number of situations that impact on the interpretation of the count and characteristics of exporters:
  • Exports of goods excludes export consignments with a value of less than $2,000.
  • Australian businesses, which sell goods or services to other Australian businesses who then undertake the exporting function, are excluded. For instance:
    • many agricultural products are exported from Australia by wholesalers, such as commodity marketing boards, rather than by the producer
    • a principal consultant may export a consultancy service that comprises the work of a number of Australian sub-consultants
    • a business may export a product that is assembled from components made by a number of Australian businesses.
  • Some analysts include the individual businesses providing commodities, components, or other goods or services for export, in their definition of 'exporters', or at least consider them to be involved in export related activity. However, unless the businesses actually own the goods or provide the service at the time of export, they are not included in the ABS count of exporters.
  • Service exporters include businesses which provide services from their Australian base to consumers offshore, i.e. supply modes 1 and 4 in the classification used by the World Trade Organisation. However, smaller and/or occasional exporters 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 exports is not thought to be significant in the totality of service exports. The ABS continues to identify these businesses and incorporate them into its estimates wherever possible.
  • The number of service exporters exclude businesses that only supply goods or services to foreign tourists or students in Australia (supply mode 2), such as hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, tourist facilities, transport businesses, theatres, educational institutions, etc. In concept, these businesses should be included in counts of exporters. However, estimates of these services are compiled from information obtained from the consumers of these services rather than the businesses providing the services.
  • Goods and services exporters exclude Australian-owned businesses located overseas supplying goods or services to or from the country in which they are located (supply mode 3 - usually called foreign affiliates trade), because their trade does not directly contribute to Australia's exports of goods and services.
  • The count of services exporters is derived from a sample survey. Changes in units selected in the sample can impact annual counts of businesses, especially at the type of service level.

13 Apart from the exclusions mentioned above, businesses which export goods or services in a particular year are counted as exporters regardless of the value or frequency of their exports. Tables 1 and 2 in this publication present the number of exporters by a range of export values. In addition, Table 2 presents counts of goods exporters by the frequency of export transactions. This information may be analysed when considering issues such as the identification of businesses with an export focus.

14 Estimates for the value of services exports are compiled according to the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, Sixth Edition (BPM6). Aggregate services data published in Table 1.2 and all services data in Table 10.2 align with values released in Table 9 and Table 11a of the April 2017 issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) released on 8 June, 2017. However, the item 'Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others' has been excluded from the estimate of total services exports to prevent double counting, as exports of goods include goods exported after they have been processed.


STATISTICAL UNIT

15 The ABSBR is a two population model. The two populations are known as the profiled population and the non-profiled population. The main distinction between businesses in the two populations relates to the complexity of the business structure and the degree of intervention required to reflect the business structure for statistical purposes.

16 The vast majority of businesses included on the ABSBR are in the non-profiled population. Most of these businesses are understood to have simple structures. After some system processes are applied to the unit registered for an ABN, the resulting statistical unit is a good approximation satisfying ABS statistical requirements. For these businesses, the ABS statistical units structure directly aligns with the ABN unit: One ABN equates to one business.

17 For a relatively small number of businesses, the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS economic statistics purposes and the ABS maintains its own units structure through direct contact with businesses. These businesses constitute the profiled population. This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse groups of businesses. In the profiled population, each in scope type of activity unit (TAU) equates to one exporting business.

18 The TAU is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities, or branches of a business entity within an enterprise group that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items is available, a TAU is created which covers all the operations within an industry subdivision. Where a business cannot supply adequate information for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision. These TAU units are classified according to the industry subdivision of the main activity. TAU units may have operations in one or more states / territories.

19 The statistical unit referred to as an exporting business thus consists of ABNs from the non-profiled population and TAU units from the profiled population. For exporters of goods it also includes CCIDs and ABNs that do match to the ABSBR. Further information on the ABS units model can be found in 'Appendix - ABS Business Register and the ABS units model' in Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA), 2008 (Version 1.1) (cat. no. 1218.0).


CONFIDENTIALITY

20 Legislative requirements to ensure privacy and secrecy of these data have been followed. Only people authorised under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 have been allowed to view data about any particular firm in conducting these analyses. Results have been confidentialised in accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, to ensure that they do not enable identification of a particular person or organisation.


CHARACTERISTICS OBTAINED FROM THE ABSBR

21 To help readers interpret data on the number and characteristics of exporters, the TAU (which is mapped from ABN) is used to obtain selected information on businesses from the ABSBR.

22 The information obtained from the ABSBR includes:
  • industry of the TAU business based on ANZSIC 2006
  • main State of business location, based on main business address
  • number of employees
  • annual turnover.

23 The characteristics listed above cannot be obtained for exporting businesses that are not on the ABSBR (including CCIDs).

24 The following issues should be considered when interpreting information from the ABSBR about exporters:
  • Information obtained from the ABSBR for businesses is relevant to the point in time approximately a month after the end of each financial year. This means that the location, industry and size information for some businesses may differ between financial years. For example the size category allocated to exporting businesses may be impacted by an increase in annual turnover. Changes may be made as the ABSBR is updated at any time, so changes to classificatory data retrieved from the ABSBR as a result of reviews or amendments will impact on the time series. Therefore, care should be taken when analysing time series in this publication.
  • A business may have more than one TAU and the TAU quoted on export documentation may be the TAU of a part of the business not actually producing the exports. As a result, characteristics obtained from the ABSBR (e.g. the main State or the industry of the business) could relate to a corporate head office, and
  • A business located in a State may export goods produced in different States.


CHARACTERISTICS OBTAINED FROM DIBP

25 The following information can be obtained or derived from export documentation for all goods exporters including those without an ABN:
  • value of exports
  • State of origin of the commodity
  • industry of origin of the commodity.

26 The aggregated data for value of goods exports in this publication matches the aggregated data in the January 2017 issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) released on 2 March 2017. Table 1.2, Table 2.2, Table 3, Table 4, Table 5.2 and Table 6 in this publication matches Table 14a and Table 15a in publication 5368.0, January 2017.

27 The State of origin of the commodity recorded on export documentation can be used to identify the State from which the exported goods were sourced. State of origin is the State in which the final stage of production or manufacture occurs. Determining a single State of origin is difficult when there may be several stages in the manufacturing process, each of which may take place in a different State. For example, fruit may be grown in one State, canned in another, and exported from another.

28 The industry of origin of the commodity is derived by linking each statistical code in the Australian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) to an ANZSIC 2006 industry based on the primary activities of the industries with which they are most commonly associated. These are the industries most likely to have produced the exported goods. Industry of origin of the commodity is a different concept from the industry of business recorded on the ABSBR. While each AHECC statistical code is allocated to one primary industry of origin, commodities can be produced and/or exported by businesses classified to a number of industries.


STATE INFORMATION

29 Two different concepts are used to measure the State distribution of goods exporters in this article.

30 The first measure is counts of the number of businesses which export goods produced in a given State based on information supplied to DIBP with export documentation. The second measure is a count of the number of businesses engaged in exporting activities within a given State, which is the State of business location based on main business address obtained from the ABSBR.

31 Table 6 shows value of exports on a State of origin basis. Exports data that have the confidentiality restrictions 'No commodity details' or 'No value details' are now aggregated into a single confidential commodity code. The confidential data are published as 'Total goods exports'. Therefore, individual State totals may not represent the actual amount of trade in each state but only the trade in commodities without a 'No commodity details' or 'No value details' restriction.

32 Table 7 shows the distribution of goods exporting businesses, by industry of exporter and the exporter's main State of business location as listed on the ABSBR. Businesses can operate in more than one state or territory. Main state of business location is derived from the main business address.


INDUSTRY DATA

33 In addition to the industry of origin of the commodity, a number of tables show the industry of the exporter. This is based on the ANZSIC 2006 industry of the exporting business as registered on the ABSBR. The exporting business as defined in this publication is the owner of the good at the time of export and not necessarily the producer of the exported commodity. For more information about ANZSIC 2006, see Information paper: Changes to International Trade in Goods Industry Statistics, July 2009 (cat. no. 5368.0.55.011).


BUSINESS SIZE

34 Exporter counts are presented by business size. The ABS discussed the size classification to be used for counts of businesses in Information paper: A Statistical View of Counts of Businesses in Australia, June 2005 (cat. no. 8162.0). The size classification recommended in that information paper used the number of employees only. Additional criteria have been added for the purpose of this publication, to cover businesses with large value domestic and/or export sales, but relatively few employees. This definition has been used because it caters for exporters that do not have an ABN or have more complex structures; e.g. the ABN reported on the export documentation may not be the same as the ABN used for employment purposes.

35 For the purposes of this publication, the size of the business in Tables 5 and 8 has been determined by three criteria - its number of employees, annual turnover (both from ABSBR) and the value of exports (reported to DIBP).

36 For exporters who have number of employees and annual turnover reported, the criteria to define the size of the business are:
  • small exporters - having fewer than 20 employees and annual turnover less than $2m and exports of less than $2m during the reference period
  • large exporters - having 200 or more employees, or, annual turnover of $20m or more, or, exports of $20m or more during the reference period
  • medium exporters - all businesses other than those defined as small or large.

37 There are two types of business which do not have number of employees and/or annual turnover reported:
  • CCID exporters: The CCID is an identifier provided by DIBP to exporting businesses that do not have or do not report an ABN. Therefore, number of employees and annual turnover are not available.
  • ABNs where number of employees is not reported and/or annual turnover is not reported.

38 For CCID exporters, the criteria to define the size of the business are:
  • small exporters - having exports of less than $2m during the reference period
  • large exporters - having exports of $20m or more during the reference period
  • medium exporters - all businesses other than those defined as small or large.

39 For ABNs where number of employees is not reported, and/or annual turnover is not reported, the criteria to define the size of the business are:
  • small exporters - i) having number of employees fewer than 20 or not reported; and ii) annual turnover less than $2m or not reported; and iii) exports of less than $2m during the reference period
  • large exporters - having 200 or more employees, or, annual turnover of $20m or more, or, exports of $20m or more during the reference period
  • medium exporters - all businesses other than those defined as small or large.


COUNTRY DATA

40 Table 9 shows country data by the number of goods exporters, number of transactions, and the value of exports. The value of exports for some commodities is suppressed to preserve exporter confidentiality, but total exports by country can be released for the majority of countries.

41 Exporter counts are suppressed for those countries with fewer than three exporters to preserve exporter confidentiality. In these instances the number of exporters cell is annotated np (not available for publication) and the corresponding number of export transactions cell is not available and is also annotated np.

42 Exports data that have the confidentiality restrictions 'No commodity details' or 'No value details' are now aggregated into a single confidential commodity code. The confidential data are published as 'No country details' in the country totals. Therefore, individual country totals from June 2013 and onwards may not represent the actual amount of trade in each country but only the trade in commodities without a 'No commodity details' or 'No value details' restriction.


ROUNDING

43 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals. Percentage movements are calculated from data at the level of precision presented in this publication (i.e. $m).