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May key points
Credits (exports of goods and services)
Debits (imports of goods and services)
Balance on Goods and Services, Seasonally adjusted
International Accounts uses the concurrent seasonal adjustment method, meaning that seasonal factors are re-estimated each time a new data point becomes available. If not appropriately accounted for, unusual events, such as COVID-19, can distort estimates calculated using this method. From March 2020, seasonal factors that have been notably impacted by these events will be calculated using data up to and including February 2020, then projected from March 2020 onwards. This approach, known as the forward factor method, ensures that the seasonal factors are not distorted by COVID-19 impacts.
The ABS has advised users that it had moved to using forward factors for seasonal analysis of a number of series including International Travel Services. Current ABS (and international practice) requires at least three years of data to assess whether a change in the seasonal pattern has occurred. Should the COVID-19 result in a long-term change to the seasonal pattern then revisions to these series may occur in the future. The ABS will consult with users on any future methods changes to seasonal adjustment and potential revisions. The Feature Article International Travel Services time series outlines the matter in greater detail.
Suspension of trend estimates
The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in international trade activity. In the short term, this measurement will be significantly affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent changes to regular patterns in international trade that will occur during this time. If the trend estimates in this publication were to be calculated without fully accounting for this unusual event, they would provide a misleading view of underlying international trade activity.
It may be some time before the underlying trend in international trade activity can be accurately estimated. The trend series has therefore been suspended from March 2019 in the time series and will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend in international trade.
COVID-19 in May Month
Quality assurance undertaken by the ABS confirmed that the COVID-19 virus did not result in quality impacts to International Trade in Goods and Services statistics for May 2020. For information on the expected economic impacts of COVID-19, please see the ABS Chief Economist Series paper Measuring natural disasters in the Australian economy.
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