5331.0 - Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia, Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1998  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/09/1998   
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2.12. To be useful in analysis, and to provide meaningful indicators of cross-border economic activity, it is important that the balance of payments and international investment position statistics carry values that have economic meaning. It is also important, given the double-entry accounting system used, that a uniform valuation is adopted. This means that the credit and debit entries of each transaction - which in practice may be derived from independent sources - should be valued at the same price. In addition, a uniform valuation is essential to sum different types of transactions on a consistent and comparable basis. The use of a uniform valuation principle aids understanding by users. Moreover, statistics for different countries will not be comparable unless both parties to a transaction adopt the same valuation principle. It is also important to use a principle which is consistent with national accounting principles. For all these reasons, market price is used in Australian economic statistics for valuing transactions.

2.13. Market price is the amount of money that a willing buyer pays to acquire something from a willing seller, when such an exchange is between independent parties and involves only commercial considerations. In practice, one or more of the conditions needed to establish a market price may be absent and other valuations may be used.

2.14. For the most part, the price at which a transaction is recorded in the accounts of the transactors or in the administrative records used as data sources will be the market price or a very close approximation of it. This valuation is known as the transactions price and is the practical valuation basis used in the balance of payments, both because it aids consistent recording of credits and debits and because of its usual proximity to the ideal market valuation. Box 2.6 discusses a special case of transactions where market prices may not apply, namely transfer pricing between affiliated enterprises in different countries.

2.6 TRANSFER PRICING
Where transactions are between affiliated enterprises in different countries, the prices adopted in their books for recording transactions in goods and services and any associated indebtedness and interest - referred to as transfer prices - may not correspond to prices that would be charged to independent parties. To the extent that transfer prices are different from those charged to enterprises outside the group, there will be some departure from the market price principle. However, there are practical difficulties in identifying and suitably adjusting individual cases. Further, because transfer pricing to avoid tax is illegal in Australia the distortions in the international accounts caused by transfer pricing are not considered widespread. For both reasons, adjustments to account for transfer pricing are rarely made in practice.


Assets and liabilities

2.15. As with all international investment position statistics, foreign financial assets and liabilities should, in principle, be valued at their current market price at the reference date. In practice this is not always possible and valuation guidelines are adopted in order to approximate market valuation, particularly for those financial assets and liabilities that are only rarely transacted. For example, in measuring the value of direct investment in equity capital, much of which is never traded or is traded infrequently, market value is approximated by one of the following methods: a recent transaction price; directors’ value; or net asset value.

Unit of account and conversion

2.16. Transactions and stock positions originally denominated in foreign currencies need to be converted to Australian dollars using market rates of exchange prevailing at the time of the transaction (balance of payments) or at the reference date (international investment position). Transactions should be converted at the mid-point of the buying and selling exchange rates applying at the time of transaction. Stocks should be converted at the mid-point of the buying and selling exchange rates applying at the beginning or end of the period. In practice, the actual rate used varies according to the source of the transaction or stock data.






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