In the following tables, global estimates are presented of the current, capital and financial accounts of Australia's balance of payments. Current and capital account transactions are generally recorded gross. This means that, for each item in the current and capital accounts, the credit entries are recorded separately from the debit entries. For example, goods credits are shown separately from goods debits. For each item in the financial account, however, debit and credit transactions are combined to produce a single result for the item which may be either a net credit or a net debit. For example, in a given period, non-resident purchases of shares issued by companies in Australia (credit) are netted against sales of Australian shares to residents by non-residents (debit) and the net result is recorded in the financial account as either a net credit or a net debit.
The current account records transactions between Australian residents and non-residents in goods, services, income and current transfers. Goods are classified into five main components: general merchandise; goods for processing; goods procured in ports by carriers; repairs on goods; and non-monetary gold. Changes of ownership from residents to non-residents are recorded as credits (also referred to as exports), and changes from non-residents to residents are recorded as debits (also referred to as imports). Services, comprising 11 primary components, cover services provided by Australian residents to non-residents (credits) and by non-residents to residents (debits), together with transactions in a few types of goods (for example, goods purchased by travellers). Income, comprising investment income (for example, dividends and interest) and compensation of employees (for example, wages), covers income earned by Australian residents from non-residents (credits) or earned by non-residents from residents (debits). Current transfers cover the offsetting entries required when resources are provided, without something of economic value being received in return. When non-residents provide something to Australian residents, offsetting credits are required; when residents provide resources to non-residents, offsetting debits are required. General government transfers (for example, official foreign aid) are distinguished from transfers by other sectors.
The capital account covers capital transfers (such as migrants' funds), distinguished between general government and other sectors, and the acquisition/disposal of non-produced, non-financial assets.
The financial account shows transactions in foreign financial assets and liabilities. The primary split is by functional type of capital (direct investment, portfolio investment, financial derivatives, other investment and reserve assets) further split into assets and liabilities (where appropriate). Within the asset and liability categories, details are presented of instruments of investment and resident sectors (for other than direct investment), and in some cases the contractual maturity of the instruments used.
The primary distinction used in international investment position statistics is between assets and liabilities. Assets primarily represent Australian investment abroad, and liabilities represent foreign investment in Australia. The difference between the two represents the net international investment position (see graph 30.11 and table 30.12). Australian investment abroad refers to the stock of foreign financial assets owned by Australian residents, after netting off any liabilities of Australian direct investors to their direct investment enterprises abroad. Conversely, foreign investment in Australia refers to the stock of financial assets in Australia owned by non-residents, after netting off any claims of Australian direct investment enterprises on their foreign direct investors. The first breakdown below this asset/liability dichotomy is by functional type of capital, with details of the instruments of investment (table 30.14), the resident sectors and contractual maturities involved.
While many types of instruments of investment can be identified, similar instruments are combined for analytical reasons and ease of reporting. Some of those instruments are:
- equity capital, which includes ordinary and participating preference shares, units in trusts and net equity in branches;
- reinvestment of earnings of direct investors, which refers to income retained within the enterprise from after-tax profits that is attributable to direct investors;
- debt securities, which include longer term, generally tradable security instruments such as bonds and debentures, with a contractual maturity of more than one year after issue, together with money market instruments (for example, bills, commercial finance paper, negotiable certificates of deposit) with a contractual maturity of one year or less;
- trade credits, which cover the direct extension by suppliers and buyers for goods and services, including advances for work in progress or to be undertaken;
- loans, which cover the direct lending of funds either without a security evidencing the transaction, or with non-negotiable documentation. They include financial leases;
- deposits, which comprise both transferable and other deposits; and
- other assets and liabilities, which consist of miscellaneous accounts in respect of interest, dividends, etc.