5368.0 - International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, Sep 2014 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/11/2014   
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Statistics on Australia's international trade in goods and services are produced using a combination of data collected directly by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and exports and imports declarations collected by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs and Border Protection).

Please refer to ABS Institutional Environment for more information about the institutional environment of the ABS, including its legislative obligations, financing and governance arrangements and mechanisms for security of ABS operations.


In the ABS, the monthly International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) presents exports (credits) and imports (debits) statistics on a balance of payments (change of ownership) basis. These statistics are presented in original, seasonally adjusted and trend terms. The monthly publication also incorporates exports and imports on a merchandise trade basis.

The monthly goods and services credits and debits series contribute to quarterly statistics on Australia's balance of payments and international investment position. Services data are only compiled on a balance of payments basis. The main sources for services data are the quarterly Survey of International Trade in Services, and administrative data such as passenger cards from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. For more details please refer to Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0).

International merchandise trade statistics record goods that add to or subtract from the stock of material resources of Australia by entering (imports) or leaving (exports) the country on a permanent basis. Australia conforms to the United Nations (UN) recommendations for the compilation of international trade statistics as set out in the UN publication International Merchandise Trade Statistics, Concepts and Definitions, Statistical Papers, Series M, No. 52, Rev 2, 1998 (IMTS Rev2). Merchandise trade statistics are compiled from information submitted by exporters and importers or their agents to Customs and Border Protection. The merchandise trade statistics may be adjusted for classification, coverage or timing to convert them to a balance of payments basis.

The Standard International Trade Classification Revision 4 (SITC Rev. 4) is the main classification used to analyse merchandise trade statistics. Other classifications used include the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) (cat. no. 1233.0) (exports), Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification (Customs Tariff) (imports), the Broad Economic Categories (BEC) and the Balance of Payments Broad Economic Categories (BoPBEC). For balance of payments data, the SITC Rev. 4, BoPBEC and the Balance of Payments Commodity of Export (BoPCE) classifications are used.

More detail on the underlying concepts and structure of international trade in goods and services, and the sources, methods and terms used in compiling estimates is presented in:


The monthly International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) publication is released 21 working days after the end of each reference month. In general, source data used in the compilation of international merchandise trade data and balance of payments statistics are timely. Goods data are collected on a monthly basis. The collection of services data is more varied due to the wider number of data sources used to compile trade in services statistics.

The ABS uses several estimation methods to account for the less timely source data. Extrapolation methods are used to project particular series forward until survey or administrative results are available. Similarly, when data sources or data models provide data on a less frequent basis than the periodicity of compilation, data are interpolated between periods to obtain sufficiently frequent estimates.


The ABS uses a variety of methods to routinely assess the information from surveys and administrative data. Sound data collection and methodological systems, conformity to international standard frameworks, and the use of analytical tools all contribute to high quality outputs. Nevertheless, the data may not be accurate for a number of reasons. Sampling error occurs when estimates are derived from a sample survey and the whole population is not enumerated. Estimation methods are applied to incomplete data. Extrapolation methods are used to project particular series forward until survey or administrative results become available and for data provided on an irregular basis. Data confrontation studies are used to compare and reconcile data items from different collections on an enterprise basis if possible. The ABS ensures that surveys are designed, tested and evaluated to a high standard. Data based on administrative data sources are subject to classification, processing, coverage and timing adjustments, and modelling as appropriate. The financial press is regularly monitored for large international transactions.

The general policy adopted in relation to revisions is to incorporate more accurate estimates into the data as they become available. To minimise disruption to the historical time series:
  • revisions to goods and services credits and debits affecting periods prior to the previous financial year are held over until the release of the August month issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0)
  • revisions to merchandise trade statistics are generally only applied to the six months preceding the current month.

For further information please refer to International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5489.0) and Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5331.0).


Statistics on Australia's international trade in goods and services are compiled and presented in accordance with international standards. The main standards include:
Modifications and extensions take account of domestic user requirements for additional details and views of the data. Where possible, data are validated against independent sources both within the ABS and externally. For example, the media is monitored for large transactions in activities in exports and imports of goods and services, and changes in commodity prices. The ABS provides aggregated statistics (by partner country where possible) to international organisations including the IMF and the OECD, which reconcile information from all countries.

The ABS makes available historical quarterly time series for its international accounts dating back to 1959. Key monthly time series date back to 1971 for balance of payments data, 1978 for exchange rates, and 1988 for merchandise trade data. When changes in source data, methodology or statistical techniques are introduced, historical time series are revised back as far as reasonably possible.


This publication presents data on goods and services credits and debits, to be used in the current account of the balance of payments. Gross credits and debits series for goods and services are presented distinct from each other. Time series data, in current prices, are provided in original, seasonally adjusted and trend estimates terms.

International merchandise trade statistics provide detailed commodity statistics according to several classifications. Time series data are presented in original terms only.

For more information on seasonal adjustment and trend estimation, please refer to the Information Paper: A Guide to Interpreting Time Series - Monitoring Trends, 2003 (cat. no. 1349.0).

The 'Notes' and 'Analysis and Comments' sections of this publication provide advice on any changes which may be occurring. Also, if major changes are anticipated to any of the classifications, information papers associated with the publication are released in advance to advise the change and implementation plans.

The International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5489.0) and Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5331.0) provide users with detailed information on these accounts. They describe the conceptual framework underlying the statistics, classification of data items, presentations and publications. Information is also presented on data sources, compilation methodologies, data quality, relationships with national accounts and emerging issues.


Data are available to users free of charge from the ABS website. The publication is available in pdf format, along with time series and data cubes for major data series. The ABS website contains analysis of the latest data and supporting graphs and charts.

International trade in goods and services statistics are published monthly. Tables are available in spreadsheet format, many with data series beginning in July 1971. More detailed data are available on request as a 'user pays' service which can be tailored to suit individual requirements. This service can be accessed through the ABS information and referral service on 1300 135 070 or the Information Consultancy link on the ABS website. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

There are a range of information papers, notes, publications and feature articles that provide information on a number of data quality issues. These include changes to the classifications, systems, concepts, standards or methodology, major data revisions and changes in data dissemination practices. The purpose of this information is to supplement and update the concepts, sources and methods.