1 This publication presents preliminary estimates of Australia's international trade in goods and services on a balance of payments basis and merchandise import and export statistics on a recorded trade basis.
2 Merchandise trade statistics on a recorded trade basis are compiled from information submitted by exporters and importers or their agents to the Australian Customs Service (ACS). Adjustments for coverage, timing and valuation are made to recorded trade data to convert them to a balance of payments basis. The main source for services data is the quarterly Survey of International Trade in Services.
3 More comprehensive quarterly estimates of Australia’s trade in goods and services, together with comprehensive details of Australia’s balance of payments are included in the quarterly publication, Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0). Detailed monthly statistics on merchandise trade are available on AusStats or by subscription to tailored services.
CONCEPTS, SOURCES AND METHODS
4 The conceptual framework used in compiling Australia's merchandise trade statistics can be found in International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001 (cat. no. 5489.0).
5 The conceptual framework used in compiling Australia's balance of payments statistics is based on the Fifth Edition of the International Monetary Fund's Balance of Payments Manual (BPM5,1993). Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of the balance of payments and the sources, methods and terms used in compiling the estimates are presented in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1998 (cat. no. 5331.0). To bring merchandise trade statistics on a recorded trade basis to a balance of payments basis, timing adjustments are made to ensure that the transaction is recorded in the period in which ownership changed, rather than in the period in which the transaction was recorded by ACS. Adjustments are also made to imports to take account of distortions which arise when significant changes occur in the volume of import entries lodged but not yet processed by ACS in a given month. Chapter 6 of cat. no. 5331.0 provides more detail on the relationship between statistics on international merchandise trade on a recorded trade basis and on a balance of payments basis.
6 Both of the Concepts, Sources and Methods publications are available for free from the ABS web site, see <https://www.abs.gov.au> - select About Statistics then Concepts & Classifications.
7 Monthly original estimates are volatile, being subject to calendar-related and large irregular influences. Seasonally adjusted estimates are derived by estimating and removing systematic calendar related effects, such as seasonal and trading day influences, from the original series. Trading day effects are removed from the original estimates prior to the seasonal adjustment process. Seasonal adjustment does not aim to remove the irregular or non-seasonal influences which may be present in any particular month. These irregular influences may reflect both random economic events and difficulties of statistical recording. The estimates of international trade in goods and services on a balance of payments basis are seasonally adjusted. The merchandise exports and imports statistics on a recorded trade basis are not.
8 The month-to-month movements of the seasonally adjusted estimates may not be reliable indicators of trend behaviour because they include irregular or non-seasonal movements. Trend estimates are derived by applying a 13-term Henderson moving average to the seasonally adjusted series. The use of a 13-term Henderson average can result in revisions to the estimates for the most recent six months as additional observations become available. Revisions can also occur because of changes in the original data and as a result of the annual re-estimation of the seasonal factors.
9 In keeping with balance of payments conventions, where statistics are on a balance of payments basis, credit entries (exports) are shown without sign and debit items (imports) are shown as negative entries. For statistics on a recorded trade basis, both imports and exports are shown without sign. The calculation of percentage changes on balance of payments debit items are made without regard to sign. References to balance of payments debit items in Key Figures, Key Points, and Analysis and Comments are also made without regard to sign.
COMMODITY BREAKDOWNS OF GOODS
10 For details of the classification used for goods exports on a balance of payments basis (credits), see table 6.6 in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1998 (cat. no. 5331.0).
11 Details of the classification of goods imports on a balance of payments basis (debits) are provided in table 6.7 in cat. no. 5331.0. Most of the commodity groups shown in table 4 for goods debits are available for more detailed subgroups from AusStats.
12 The recorded trade statistics shown in tables 8 and 9 are classified by the Standard International Trade Classification 2 (SITC). The first section of tables 8 and 9 show the most significant commodities (by value) at the SITC 3 digit level.
COMMODITY BREAKDOWNS OF SERVICES
13 The quarterly detailed services data published in table 7 are consistent with the monthly aggregates shown in table 5. Services trade data by major partner countries and by Australian state of production/consumption are published on a financial year basis and a calendar year basis.
14 Monthly indicators for many of the services components that are only surveyed quarterly are not available. In particular, the Freight and Other transportation components of Total services credits are not available for publication on a monthly basis. The estimates for these items shown in table 5 are therefore derived by dividing the quarterly estimate by three. Where quarterly survey data are not available, freight debits are derived directly from imports data for the reference month as a difference between total merchandise cost, insurance and freight (CIFE) and free on board (FOB), adjusted to reflect timing and processing adjustments. For freight credits and other transportation credits and debits, estimates are derived by extrapolating the last month's data by an average of movements for the same month over the three previous years.
TOURISM RELATED SERVICES
15 The tourism related services memorandum items provide timely indicators of the movements in tourism related activities, not an absolute measure of the level of these activities. These series are not complied on a Balance of Payments conceptual basis. However, they do provide a reasonable approximation of world tourism related activities.
16 The memorandum items have been derived by re-aggregating relevant components of the international trade in services series of the balance of payments accounts. The tourism related indicator has been derived by combining total travel services (business, education-related and other personal travel), passenger fares, and the air transport component of other transportation services which relates to agency fees and commission receipts.
SERVICES BY STATE AND BY PARTNER COUNTRY
17 Annual services data by state and by partner country are released twice yearly. Calendar year data are released with the March issue of this publication and financial year data are released with the November issue. The data are available from AusStats.
18 Services credits are classified by the state of provision, while services debits are classified by the state of consumption. The state allocations for transportation, travel and communication services are based on a number of indicators including merchandise trade statistics by state, overseas passenger arrivals and departures by state of clearance and data provided by the Department of Education, Science and Training. The allocation for other services (about 25% of all trade in services) is primarily based on the location of the business reporting the information, which serves as a proxy for the state of provision/consumption of that service. The data should be used with care but are considered suitable for analysis over time.
19 A comprehensive explanation of the data sources used and the methodology applied in the compilation of partner country statistics is provided in Chapter 17 of Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia - Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5331.0). Approximately 9% of total services credits and 5% of total services debits for 2003-4 are either confidential, or unable to be allocated to individual countries.
RELATED PRODUCTS OR SERVICES
20 More detailed balance of payments and recorded merchandise trade data, including forward seasonal factors, are available from AusStats. Very detailed merchandise trade data by commodity, country and state are available by contacting the National Information and Referral Service, as shown on the back of this publication.
21 Users may also wish to refer to the following publications which can be downloaded free of charge from the ABS web site:
- Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0) - issued quarterly
- International Merchandise Imports, Australia (cat. no. 5439.0) - issued monthly
- International Trade Price Indexes, Australia (cat. no. 6457.0) - issued quarterly
- Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5331.0)
- Information Paper: Quality of Australian Balance of Payments Statistics (cat. no. 5342.0)
- International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5489.0)
- A Guide to Australian Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Statistics (cat. no. 5362.0.55.001).
22 The tables in this publication are presented on two bases. Tables 1-7 contain estimates of Australia's international trade in goods and services which have been adjusted for coverage, valuation and timing to a balance of payments basis. Tables 8-11 contain estimates of merchandise exports and imports based on Australian Customs Service records. Paragraph 5 of the Explanatory Notes provides an explanation of the difference between these bases.