5302.0 - Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia, Mar 2020 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/06/2020   
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March key points

Suspension of trend estimates

  • Due to the impact of COVID-19 trend estimates have been suspended in this publication from June quarter 2019.

Balance of payments
  • The current account surplus, seasonally adjusted, rose $6,673m to $8,395m in the March quarter 2020, as COVID-19 effects impacted international trade. The balance on goods and services surplus rose $5,628m to $19,188m. The primary income deficit fell $822m to $10,612m.
  • In seasonally adjusted chain volume terms, the surplus on goods and services rose $2,292m from $8,628m in the December quarter 2019 to $10,920m in the March quarter 2020. This is expected to contribute 0.5 percentage points to growth in the March quarter 2020 volume measure of GDP.

International investment position (IIP)
  • Australia's net IIP liability position was $808.1b at 31 March 2020, a decrease of $101.4b on the revised 31 December 2019 position of $909.5b. Australia's net foreign debt liability position increased $3.8b to $1,146.3b. Australia's net foreign equity asset position increased $105.3b to $338.3b at 31 March 2020.

Dec Qtr 2019
Mar Qtr 2020
Dec Qtr 2019 to Mar Qtr 2020
% change

Trend estimates (a)
Seasonally adjusted
1 722
8 395
Trend estimates (a)
Seasonally adjusted
13 560
19 188
Trend estimates (a)
Seasonally adjusted
-11 434
-10 612
International Investment Position
909 509
808 078
Net foreign equity
-233 010
-338 262
Net foreign debt
1 142 519
1 146 339

na not available
(a) Trend Series is not published from June Quarter 2019

Current account balance (a), Main aggregates
Graph: Current Account Balance (a), Main aggregates

International investment
Graph: International Investment

Suspension of trend estimates

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour of economic activity. In the short term, this measurement will be significantly affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent changes to regular patterns in behaviour 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 activity within the balance of payments.

It may be some time before the underlying trend in the balance of payments can be accurately estimated. The trend series has therefore been suspended from June quarter 2019 and will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend.

Seasonally adjusted estimates

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 real-world events, such as COVID-19, can distort estimates calculated using this method. From March quarter 2020, seasonal factors that have been notably impacted by these events will be calculated using data up to and including December quarter 2019, then projected from March quarter 2020 onwards. This approach, known as the forward factor method, ensures that the seasonal factors are not distorted by COVID-19 impacts.

International student numbers in March quarter

Estimates of travel services credits, which includes expenditure by international students/visitors in Australia, fell 19.2% in the March quarter 2020. The potential impact of international travel restrictions on the travel service credits have been reduced as approximately 80% of international students were in Australia at the time restrictions took effect. This data is sourced from the Department of Home Affairs' numbers of student visa holders in Australia (https://www.data.gov.au).

COVID-19 and Bushfires in March quarter

Quality assurance undertaken by the ABS confirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic and bushfires did not result in quality impacts to Balance of Payments and International Investment Position statistics for March quarter 2020. For information on the expected economic impacts of COVID-19 and the bushfires, please see the ABS Chief Economist Series paper
Measuring natural disasters in the Australian economy.

New ABS Website

The ABS will be launching a new website in 2020. You will soon be able to see how this release will appear on the new website by exploring our Beta site. Regular users of this information are encouraged to explore the Beta site and consider if this will affect the way you access and consume ABS data and information. If you would like more information on the new ABS website, or want to discuss how the transition to the new site might impact you, please email newABSwebsite@abs.gov.au