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5.17. Each nation compiling balance of payments and international investment position statistics has tended to develop its own unique mixture of data sources and methods. However, in more recent times, there have been attempts to classify data sources by broad category. The data sources used in Australia can be classified under the following broad categories: international trade statistics, business surveys, collections from households and individuals, other official sources, and miscellaneous. For a classification of data sources used by balance of payments compilers worldwide, the reader should refer to the IMF Balance of Payments Compilation Guide, especially table 1.1. The classification of data sources used here is largely based on that.
International trade statistics
5.18. International trade statistics measure the quantities and values of goods that add to or subtract from a nation’s stock of goods as a result of movements, either across the national frontier or the customs frontier, depending on the system of measurement used. A general trade system records movements of goods across the national frontier and a special trade system records movements of goods across the customs frontier.
Survey of International Trade in Services
5.23. The Survey of International Trade in Services collects detailed product and country information across a range of selected services transactions covering transportation, travel, insurance, communications, construction, computer and information services, royalties and licence fees, other business services and personal, cultural and recreational services. It also collects information on goods procured in ports by carriers (debits only), for the change in stocks of merchanting goods held abroad, and for the capital account item acquisition/disposal of non-produced, non-financial assets.
Survey of International Investment
5.26. The Survey of International Investment measures the investment position, financial transactions and other changes in position (price changes, exchange rate changes and other adjustments), and investment income associated with claims on and liabilities to non-residents by Australian residents. Data items and classifications used in the collection are consistent with BPM5. (The earliest published data relating to international investment statistics appeared in the 1924 edition of the Official Yearbook of the Commonwealth of Australia which included limited details about financial transactions. An annual collection, the Survey of Companies with Overseas Affiliations, was introduced in 1948. From 1962, the survey was expanded to include a quarterly collection. In 1971, in response to concerns about the volume of funds flowing into Australia at the time, a new quarterly Survey of Overseas Borrowings by Companies in Australia was introduced. In December 1982, a review of Australian statistics in this field was completed and, as part of the recommendations, the previously separate collections of international investment activity were merged and rationalised under the one umbrella collection, the Survey of Foreign Investment. The survey continued to expand in scope and, in the late 1980s, it had acquired much of its current form, although in the mid 1990s the survey underwent some large transformations to meet the new data requirements of BPM5 and was renamed the Survey of International Investment.)
5.28. Summary data on financial transactions and the investment position, as well as investment income details, are available in time for the quarterly balance of payments and international investment position publication (Cat. no. 5302.0) and more detailed instrument and sector data are available shortly after and published in Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts (Cat. no. 5232.0). The quarterly publication (Cat. no. 5302.0), includes the very detailed decompositions of the financial account and the international investment position for periods up to the quarter prior to the reference quarter.
Collections from households and individuals
Overseas Arrivals and Departures
5.29. Persons arriving in or departing from Australia complete Incoming and Outgoing Passenger Cards. These cards provide information to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs for administrative purposes and serve as the source of statistics of overseas arrivals and departures which are used in a number of balance of payments data models. (Overseas Arrivals and Departures statistics have been published monthly since 1950; in the Australian Demographic Review until 1965 and then in the monthly publication Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (Cat. no. 3401.0). Quarterly statistics were published in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (Cat. no. 3402.0), from 1965 to 1994, and annual statistics in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (Cat. no. 3404.0), from 1972.)
International Visitor Survey
5.31. The International Visitor Survey conducted by the Bureau of Tourism Research is a quarterly sample survey of about 20,000 foreign visitors leaving Australia per annum (representing 0.5 per cent of non-residents visiting Australia). It is conducted in international airport departure lounges and collects data on a range of travel issues including, importantly from a balance of payments perspective, expenditure by foreign visitors to Australia (for use in estimating travel credits), earnings from employment (compensation of employees debit), and purchases of airline tickets (used to adjust passenger fare data). (The survey was commenced in 1971-72 and results are only available for the years 1971-72 to 1974-75 (financial year basis), 1979, 1981, 1983 to 1986, 1988 and 1989 (calendar year basis). From then on the survey has been conducted quarterly.)
Survey of Returned Australian Travellers
5.32. The Survey of Returned Australian Travellers is an ABS sample survey (conducted in 1991-92 and repeated in 1995-96) of around 7,500 Australian residents aged 15 and over travelling abroad for less than 12 months (representing 0.3 per cent of Australian travellers). Data are collected by mail from a sample of returning travellers drawn from the Incoming Passenger Cards. The survey is primarily used to supplement results from the quarterly Survey of International Trade in Services (travel services component), and to generate per capita expenditure estimates by purpose of travel, per capita estimates of traveller expenditure using cash taken abroad, earnings while abroad, and some other details about Australians travelling abroad.
Survey of International Students
5.33. The Survey of International Students, conducted in 1991-92 and 1996-97 by the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, is a sample survey of about 2,000 foreign students selected from enrolments at registered Australian educational institutions. Only students on education visas are covered. New Zealand citizens, and foreign students in Australia for less than three months, do not require an education visa. Students travelling on other types of visas are also excluded. The student population is stratified by type of institution, region and country of origin. The survey covers a number of education-related issues, as well as providing information on per capita estimates of weekly expenditure on goods and services and earnings while in Australia.
Other official sources
Commonwealth Government Transactions
5.34. The Department of Finance provides the ABS with a copy of the Commonwealth Government Ledgers which contain itemised monthly data on all Commonwealth Government expenditures and receipts. These data are used to identify commonwealth Government expenditures and receipts from abroad. Entries are recorded on a cash basis, i.e. at the time a payment is made or received. In addition, various government departments provide regular details about particular international activity of relevance to balance of payments compilation.
Statistics about foreign students
5.35. The Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs assembles annual calendar year data from a number of sources on the numbers of foreign students studying in Australia in any one year, and the fees paid by them. Data are restricted to students on education visas (i.e. all foreign students, except New Zealand citizens, studying in Australia at any institution for three months or more) and New Zealand students at higher education institutions. For student numbers, data come from the Department’s survey of higher education institutions (which collects, inter alia, the number of students on foreign visas and New Zealand students) and from a Departmental database relating to students on foreign visas. Student fees are obtained from Departmental surveys of institutions which provide data, inter alia, on course type, indicative fees and numbers of students on foreign visas who are enrolled. Data are also collected on indicative fees payable by students who are New Zealand citizens. These data are used, with adjustments, for a variety of balance of payments estimation purposes.
Miscellaneous data sources
International Transactions Reporting System (Tickets)
5.36. The main balance of payments data source in many other countries is an international transactions reporting system. It is used to measure business and household transactions that pass through domestic banks, and business transactions through inter-company accounts (including non-cash transactions) and bank accounts held abroad. They can provide comprehensive and timely balance of payments statistics. Most such systems, which were formerly known as foreign exchange record systems, evolved as by-products of foreign exchange control systems.
Survey of Foreign Unrequited Transfers
5.38. The Survey of Foreign Unrequited Transfers (SOFUT) is a monthly survey of those financial institutions believed to account for the majority of private transfers transactions involving residents and non-residents. It collects information used in the compilation of the migrants’ transfers (credits and debits) component of capital transfers and also collects information used in the compilation of the private current transfers (credits and debits) series. The information collected includes such items as immigrants’ funds transferred into Australia and emigrants’ funds transferred out of Australia, gifts, donations and pensions. (The results from the SOFUT suffer from many of the same problems as the Tickets collection. A review is underway to find a more accurate source to measure this type of information. The Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia is being investigated as a possible source for the migrants’ transfers credits component. See paragraphs 18.3 to 18.5.)
Information about Foreign Embassies and Consulates
5.39. The ABS periodically collects information from the larger embassies and consulates in Australia. It was collected in 1984-85, 1987-88, 1992-93 and in 1997. The information on the numbers of diplomatic staff and locally engaged staff and the average expenditure per foreign representative and dependants, is used in the Foreign Embassy Expenditure Model, together with data from other sources, in compiling estimates of foreign embassies, and their employees, expenditure on goods and services, and wages and salaries paid to locally engaged staff.