Export and Import Invoice Currencies, 2020-21

This article provides analysis of the major currencies used to invoice goods exported from and imported into Australia.

Released
4/11/2021

Key Statistics

  • In 2020-21, 87.8% of merchandise exports were invoiced in the United States Dollar (USD) and 9.9% in the Australian Dollar (AUD).
  • In 2020-21, 53.3% of merchandise imports were invoiced in the USD and 32.2% in the AUD.

Invoice Currency

An invoice currency is the currency in which an invoice for exported or imported goods is denominated, prior to conversion to AUD.

All values are reported in AUD and published on a June 2021 basis. Data for the March quarter 2021, June quarter 2021 and 2020-21 financial year are preliminary and subject to revision.

Exchange rates

Graph 1 shows movements in the value of the AUD against selected currencies and the Trade-weighted Index (TWI), modelled by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), from January 2015 to June 2021. The TWI is modelled by the RBA to provide an indicative measure of Australia’s international competitiveness and the overall strength of the AUD. Further information on the TWI is available on the RBA Website.

There are many factors that influence an importer or exporter to invoice in one currency over another. One of these factors is the value of one currency against another. For example, when the AUD depreciates against the USD, some Australian consumers find imports invoiced in the AUD relatively more attractive than imports invoiced in the USD.

Graph 1 demonstrates that AUD exchange rates were particularly volatile in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Between December 2019 to March 2020, the AUD depreciated 9% against the USD. Following this, over the 3 months from March to June 2020, the AUD appreciated 11% against the USD.

(a) Monthly average exchange rates have a base month of January 2015 = 100.

Quarterly exports by invoice currency

Over the two year period from June 2019 to June 2021, the USD was the main currency used to invoice merchandise exports, representing at least 85% of the total in every quarter, and increasing by 2.6 percentage points by the end of the period.

The AUD consistently accounted for the second largest proportion, averaging 11% of exports per quarter, and decreasing by 2.5 percentage points by the June quarter 2021.

All other currencies accounted for a relatively small proportion of exports in every quarter.

TABLE 1. INVOICE CURRENCIES FOR EXPORTS - Quarterly(a)(b)
Invoice currencyJun 2019Sep 2019Dec 2019Mar 2020Jun 2020Sep 2020Dec 2020Mar 2021Jun 2021
VALUE (AUD, $m)
United States dollar86,40388,36382,74178,98979,63373,31783,14988,757102,120
Australian dollar11,56811,20711,93010,1689,5519,73710,0528,80910,402
European euro7617767847536666348049501,041
New Zealand dollar447520520488407515599519535
United Kingdom pound sterling371462517388341219273192206
Japanese yen222242267229196198264205241
Chinese renminbi215301198179145273168115187
Other284287354292285237324259281
Total Merchandise Exports100,273102,15897,31091,48791,22385,12995,63399,807115,012
          
CONTRIBUTION (%)
United States dollar86.286.585.086.387.386.186.988.988.8
Australian dollar11.511.012.311.110.511.410.58.89.0
European euro0.80.80.80.80.70.70.81.00.9
New Zealand dollar0.40.50.50.50.40.60.60.50.5
United Kingdom pound sterling0.40.50.50.40.40.30.30.20.2
Japanese yen0.20.20.30.30.20.20.30.20.2
Chinese renminbi0.20.30.20.20.20.30.20.10.2
Other0.30.30.40.30.30.30.30.30.2
Total Percentage100100100100100100100100100

(a) Data as at the June 2021 reference month. March 2021 and June 2021 quarters are preliminary and subject to possible revision.
(b) Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.

Export commodities by invoice currency

Similar to the findings presented in the previous edition (2015-16) of the feature article, the USD accounted for the greatest proportion of merchandise exports in 13 of the largest 20 Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) Divisions. Notably, the USD continued to represent nearly 100% of exports for the 3 largest SITC Divisions:

  • coal, coke and briquettes;
  • metalliferous ores and metal scrap; and
  • gas, natural and manufactured.


For 5 of the 20 divisions presented, the AUD was the most used export invoice currency. Of particular interest, the AUD accounted for:

  • 77.1% of beverages, representing a 11.3 percentage point increase from 2015-16.
  • 56.6% of general industrial machinery, 2.9 percentage points lower than 2015-16.
  • 55.4% of miscellaneous manufactured articles, 10.8 percentage points higher than 2015-16.


Exports invoiced in the European euro (EUR) represented 50.8% of oil-seeds and oleaginous fruits, down 19.9 percentage points from 2015-16.

TABLE 2. EXPORT INVOICE CURRENCIES FOR SELECTED SITC REV. 4 DIVISIONS, Contributions - 2020-21(a)(b)(c)
SITC codeSITC descriptionValueUSDAUDEURNZDGBPJPYRMBOther
AUD, $m%%%%%%%%
01Meat and meat preparations13,43359.335.70.60.10.71.30.61.7
02Dairy products and birds’ eggs2,71856.141.90.60.1-0.11.10.1
04Cereals and cereal preparations10,21390.37.60.70.3-1.1-0.1
05Vegetables and fruit4,21650.248.30.40.30.10.5-0.3
11Beverages2,93011.977.11.82.03.70.3-3.3
22Oil-seeds and oleaginous fruits2,22843.13.850.80.1---2.2
26Textile fibres (excl. wool tops and other combed wool) and their wastes, not manufactured into yarn or fabric3,18683.514.21.70.10.30.10.2-
28Metalliferous ores and metal scrap179,69399.50.5------
32Coal, coke and briquettes39,18699.90.1------
33Petroleum, petroleum products and related materials9,41479.920.1------
34Gas, natural and manufactured31,91399.80.2------
54Medicinal and pharmaceutical products4,17335.544.12.06.30.20.78.52.7
68Non-ferrous metals11,10096.43.2--0.10.2--
74General industrial machinery and equipment, n.e.s., and machine parts, n.e.s.2,1553156.66.42.81.80.10.11.1
76Telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment2,29657.038.52.51.20.5--0.2
77Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, n.e.s., and electrical parts thereof (incl. non electrical counterparts, n.e.s., of electrical household type equipment)2,15333.749.77.75.01.80.10.61.5
87Professional, scientific and controlling instruments and apparatus, n.e.s.3,51443.125.210.44.010.71.42.23.0
89Miscellaneous manufactured articles, n.e.s.2,5882455.44.112.61.10.10.12.7
95Gold coin whether or not legal tender, and other coin being legal tender2,25396.63.4------
97Gold, non-monetary (excl. gold ores and concentrates)26,10995.14.9------
 Other40,11052.938.82.72.80.50.80.80.9
 Total Merchandise exports395,58187.89.90.90.50.20.20.20.3

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Data as at the June 2021 reference month. 2020-21 financial year data is preliminary and subject to possible revision.
(b) Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.
(c) Some SITC divisions exclude commodities subject to a confidentiality restriction. These are included in Other.

Quarterly imports by invoice currency

Imports invoiced in the USD consistently contributed more than half of all merchandise imports, averaging 55% per quarter over the 9-quarter period. The second most dominant currency was the AUD, averaging 32% of imports per quarter.

As with exports, the percentage of imports invoiced in the AUD has generally moved inversely to the percentage invoiced in the USD over the same period. For example, from the June quarter 2020 to the June quarter 2021, the AUD contribution increased 5.0% percentage points and the USD contribution decreased 5.1% percentage points. This coincides with a period of appreciation in the value of AUD against the USD (see Graph 1).

In combination, all other currencies accounted for no more than 13.8% of total imports, with the EUR being the largest contributor from the remainder.

TABLE 3. INVOICE CURRENCIES FOR IMPORTS - Quarterly(a)(b)
Invoice currencyJun 2019Sep 2019Dec 2019Mar 2020Jun 2020Sep 2020Dec 2020Mar 2021Jun 2021
VALUE ($m)
United States dollar41,28043,98047,01139,20340,00639,52743,22939,83541,977
Australian dollar23,61123,84723,48922,08319,99023,95826,22125,33326,971
European euro6,0055,9495,5185,0575,2255,8016,2745,8746,141
New Zealand dollar1,1071,0689521,0358047961,0811,0091,039
United Kingdom pound sterling7257598087018968751,0599141,060
Japanese yen696781740696629695794729790
Chinese renminbi647706693619612643595545574
Other1,1821,1671,4171,1941,0551,0821,1661,0741,121
Total Merchandise Imports75,25278,25780,62870,58869,21873,37880,41975,31379,673
          
CONTRIBUTION (%)
United States dollar54.956.258.355.557.853.953.852.952.7
Australian dollar31.430.529.131.328.932.732.633.633.9
European euro8.07.66.87.27.57.97.87.87.7
New Zealand dollar1.51.41.21.51.21.11.31.31.3
United Kingdom pound sterling1.01.01.01.01.31.21.31.21.3
Japanese yen0.91.00.91.00.90.91.01.01.0
Chinese renminbi0.90.90.90.90.90.90.70.70.7
Other1.61.51.81.71.51.51.41.41.4
Total Percentage100100100100100100100100100

(a) Data as at the June 2021 reference month. March 2021 and June 2021 quarters are preliminary and subject to possible revision.
(b) Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items. 

Import commodities by invoice currency

Imports invoiced in the USD contributed the largest proportion of import value for the majority of SITC Divisions. Of particular interest, the USD accounted for:

  • 99.4% of petroleum, close to the 99.3% in 2015-16.
  • 92.2% of non-monetary gold, which was 17.3 percentage points higher than 2015-16.


For 3 of the 20 divisions reported, the AUD was the most used import invoice currency. The AUD accounted for:

  • 80.2% of road vehicles, representing a decrease of 2.3 percentage points from 2015-16.
  • 76.9% of medicinal and pharmaceutical products, which was just 0.5 percentage points lower than 2015-16.
  • 53.1% of rubber manufactures, which was 6.3 percentage points higher than 2015-16.

 

For 6 of the 20 SITC Divisions presented in Table 4, the proportion of imports invoiced in the EUR was greater than 10%. The largest of which was specialised machinery, with the EUR accounting for 24.0%.

Manufactures of metals was the SITC Division with the highest proportion of imports invoices denominated in Chinese renminbi (RMB), at 6.1%.

TABLE 4. IMPORT INVOICE CURRENCIES FOR SELECTED SITC REV. 4 DIVISIONS, Contributions - 2020-21(a)(b)(c)
SITC codeSITC descriptionValueUSDAUDEURNZDGBPJPYRMBOther
AUD, $m%%%%%%%%
33Petroleum, petroleum products and related materials25,26599.40.30.2-----
54Medicinal and pharmaceutical products12,72316.776.93.40.41.20.10.11.2
62Rubber manufactures, n.e.s.4,21737.853.15.80.20.41.50.30.8
65Iron and steel5,42469.918.56.81.30.60.41.51.1
66Non-metallic mineral manufactures, n.e.s.4,15269.512.412.40.30.71.91.61.3
68Non-ferrous metals3,96083.38.24.40.60.60.12.40.4
69Manufactures of metals, n.e.s.9,62957.822.39.30.81.10.66.12.0
71Power generating machinery and equipment5,26460.415.414.80.31.51.84.31.4
72Machinery specialized for particular industries12,38037.425.624.00.42.06.41.52.7
74General industrial machinery and equipment, n.e.s., and machine parts, n.e.s.16,49641.327.921.10.71.72.23.12.0
75Office machines and automatic data processing machines11,86772.024.01.60.20.41.5-0.3
76Telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment17,51261.735.22.00.10.40.20.10.3
77Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, n.e.s., and electrical parts thereof (incl. non electrical counterparts, n.e.s., of electrical household type equipment)19,20150.433.69.30.31.10.72.52.2
78Road vehicles (incl. air-cushion vehicles)41,10710.980.23.10.20.53.31.00.8
79Transport equipment (excl. road vehicles)6,30760.025.612.20.40.80.10.30.7
82Furniture and parts thereof; bedding, mattresses, mattress supports, cushions and similar stuffed furnishings5,69178.310.16.20.20.50.14.00.5
84Articles of apparel and clothing accessories11,11877.916.12.20.30.70.12.20.4
87Professional, scientific and controlling instruments and apparatus, n.e.s.8,00942.736.014.50.62.70.90.42.3
89Miscellaneous manufactured articles, n.e.s.17,07355.931.16.60.71.90.70.92.1
97Gold, non-monetary (excl. gold ores and concentrates)8,02792.21.10.15.5---1.1
 Other63,35854.927.010.91.71.30.90.82.6
 Total Merchandise Imports308,78253.333.27.80.81.01.31.31.4

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 
(a) Data as at the June 2021 reference month. 2020-21 financial year data is preliminary and subject to possible revision.
(b) Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.
(c) Some SITC divisions exclude commodities subject to a confidentiality restriction. These are included in Other.

Historical comparison

In the period 2015-16 to 2020-21, the proportion of merchandise exports invoiced in the USD has increased 6.3 percentage points to 87.8%, while the AUD decreased 5.4 percentage points to 9.9%. This occurrence is heavily influenced by a compositional shift across the SITC Divisions. For example, the value of metalliferous ores exports, which is nearly 100% invoiced in the USD, has increased from $69b in 2015-16 to $180b in 2020-21.

TABLE 5. INVOICE CURRENCIES FOR EXPORTS, Financial year(a)(b)
 2015-162016-172017-182018-192019-202020-21
Currency      
PERCENT
United States dollar81.584.184.085.586.387.8
Australian dollar15.312.913.312.011.29.9
European euro1.11.11.00.90.80.9
New Zealand dollar0.70.60.50.50.50.5
United Kingdom pound sterling0.40.30.30.20.20.2
Chinese renminbi0.20.30.30.30.40.2
Japanese yen0.40.30.30.20.20.2
Other0.40.40.30.30.30.3
Total Percentage100100100100100100
       
AUD, $m
Total Merchandise Exports243,423290,880314,478372,622382,178395,581

(a) Data as at the June 2021 reference month. 2020-21 financial year data is preliminary and subject to possible revision.
(b) Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.

In each year from 2015-16 to 2020-21, the majority of merchandise import value was invoiced in either the USD, averaging 55% of imports per year, or the AUD, averaging 32% of imports per year.

By comparing Table 6 with Graph 1, the relationship between exchange rate movements and the choice of invoice currency for imports can be considered. Between 2017-18 and 2018-19, the proportion of imports invoices in the AUD decreased 2.2 percentage points, while the AUD depreciated moderately against most currencies. Between 2019-20 and 2020-21, the value of the AUD appreciated against most currencies and the proportion of imports invoiced in the AUD increased 3.3 percentage points.

TABLE 6. INVOICE CURRENCIES FOR IMPORTS, Financial year(a)(b)
 2015-162016-172017-182018-192019-202020-21
Currency      
PERCENT
United States dollar54.854.854.155.757.053.3
Australian dollar32.232.333.231.029.933.2
European euro6.97.17.27.57.37.8
Japanese yen1.51.51.41.41.31.3
United Kingdom pound sterling1.20.90.91.01.01.0
New Zealand dollar1.00.90.90.90.90.8
Chinese renminbi0.60.60.70.91.11.3
Other1.91.91.71.61.61.4
Total Percentage100100100100100100
       
AUD, $m
Total Merchandise Imports263,264264,008301,159306,638298,691308,782

(a) Data as at the June 2021 reference month. 2020-21 financial year data is preliminary and subject to possible revision.
(b) Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.

Financial year comparison on trade with China

As noted previously in this article, the USD consistently contributes the largest share of total merchandise exports and imports invoice values. The USD is even more dominant when Australia trades with China, averaging 93.7% of exports invoices and 77.5% of imports invoices over the 6-year period.

Since 2015-16, the proportion of exports to China invoiced in the USD, increased by 2.5 percentage points, while the AUD decreased by 2.5 percentage points.

The proportion of imports from China, invoiced in the USD decreased by 4.3 percentage points, while the AUD increased by 2.6 percentage points.

Although the RMB continues to contribute a relatively small proportion of imports invoices, the proportion has nearly doubled over the 6-year period, increasing 2.1 percentage points. 

 

 

TABLE 7. EXPORT TO CHINA BY INVOICE CURRENCY. Financial Year(a)(b)
 2015-162016-172017-182018-192019-202020-21
Invoice currency
PERCENT
United States dollar93.393.792.893.293.495.9
Australian dollar6.15.26.25.85.43.5
Chinese renminbi0.51.00.90.91.10.5
European euro-0.1----
Other----0.1-
Total Percentage100100100100100100
       
AUD, $m
Total Merchandise Exports to China(c)75,33295,560106,533134,879151,379167,299

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Data as at the June 2021 reference month. 2020-21 financial year data is preliminary and subject to possible revision.
(b) Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.
(c) The data represents total merchandise exports to China. 

TABLE 8. IMPORTS FROM CHINA BY INVOICE CURRENCY. Financial Year(a)(b)
 2015-162016-172017-182018-192019-202020-21
Invoice currency
PERCENT
United States dollar79.078.277.977.877.874.6
Australian dollar16.717.417.417.016.619.3
Chinese renminbi2.32.53.13.43.84.5
European euro0.80.80.81.01.00.9
Other1.21.00.80.80.70.7
Total100100100100100100
       
AUD, $m
Total Merchandise Imports to China(c)61,47461,49468,11778,24681,01987,259

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Data as at the June 2021 reference month. 2020-21 financial year data is preliminary and subject to possible revision.
(b) Figures have been rounded and discrepancies may occur between totals and the sums of the component items.
(c) The data represents total merchandise imports from China.

Methodology

Information on the invoice currencies used in export and import transactions is collected by the Department of Home Affairs and delivered to the ABS with other merchandise trade information required for statistical purposes.

For exports, the ABS converts values reported in foreign currencies to the AUD using RBA daily exchange rates, based on the date of departure of the goods.

For imports, the Department of Home Affairs converts values reported in foreign currencies to the AUD using exchange rates applicable on the date of departure of the goods from the overseas country. The ABS is provided details of the invoice currency, combined with the value of the import transaction denominated in the AUD.

Some factors may complicate the measurement of invoice currencies. In Australian export and import statistics, foreign currencies are converted to the AUD, using the exchange rate applicable on the day of shipment. Some trading partners may undertake the conversion using a different exchange rate or one applicable on a different day. Additionally, some exporters and importers hedge exchange rates and calculate the value of the transaction using the hedged exchange rate rather than the prevailing exchange rate (see the Further information section for more details about hedging activity).

Further information

Similar analysis was included in previous editions of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0), including the October 2016, June 2014, and June 2012 editions.

For information on the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) methodology of compiling the TWI, refer to the RBA website.

For more information about hedging activity undertaken by importers and exporters in 2017, refer to Foreign Currency Exposure, Australia, March Quarter 2017 (cat. no. 5308.0).

For inquiries about these and related statistics, contact the Customer Assistance Service via the ABS website Contact Us page. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

Rounding

Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.