5489.0 - International Merchandise Trade, Australia, Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001  
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Contents >> Chapter 2. Conceptual Framework >> Australia's Territory

2.10 In international merchandise trade statistics, the objective is to record goods entering and leaving the economic territory of a country. In practice, what is recorded are goods that enter or leave the statistical territory, which is the territory with respect to which data are collected. According to the UN guidelines, the statistical territory of each country, as defined by the country itself, should constitute the basis upon which the trading partners of each country compile their statistics of trade by countries.

Economic Territory

2.11 'The economic territory of a country consists of the geographic territory administered by a government within which persons, goods and capital circulate freely' (SNA93, paragraph 14.9).

2.12 Australia's economic territory is defined to include the territories lying within its political frontiers and territorial seas, and in the international waters over which it has exclusive jurisdiction (including the continental shelf). It also includes its territorial enclaves abroad holding embassies, consulates, military bases, scientific stations, information or immigration offices, aid agencies etc., whether owned or rented by Australian governments, with the formal agreement of the countries where they are located. Similar foreign enclaves located in Australia are excluded from Australia's economic territory.

2.13 In Australia's economic statistics, the territories of Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory, are considered to be part of the Australian economy, but Norfolk Island is not.

Statistical Territory

2.14 The statistical territory of a country consists of the geographic territory about which international merchandise trade data are actually collected. The statistical territory and the economic territory should ideally be the same, in order to obtain a complete record of the inward and outward flow of goods. The statistical territory may coincide with the economic territory or with some part of it.

2.15 In the majority of countries international merchandise trade data are based on customs procedures and records. Many countries, including Australia, accept the customs boundary as the definition of their statistical territory, because customs records comprise the primary documents for imports and exports, and customs procedures define how they are collected and validated.

2.16 The jurisdiction of the Australian Customs Service (Customs) does not extend to goods exported and imported by Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Australian Antarctic Territory (1) and territorial enclaves abroad. Australia's international merchandise trade statistics are therefore deficient in this respect. See box 2.4.

(1) Section 6 Customs Act 1901 (Cth). Consolidated to 1 June 2000.

Included in Australia's statistical territory:
  • The six states (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania), the mainland territories (Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay Territory), and the associated coastal islands;
  • Lord Howe Island (New South Wales), Macquarie Island (Tasmania), the Ashmore and Cartier Islands (Northern Territory), and the Coral Sea Island Territory (Queensland);
  • Customs' warehouses (note that Australia does not have industrial free or commercial free zones);
  • Australia's territorial waters (to 12 nautical miles offshore); and
  • the Exclusive Economic Zone: the continental shelf lying in international waters over which the country enjoys exclusive rights, or over which it has, or claims to have, jurisdiction in respect of the right to fish or to exploit fuels or minerals below the seabed. Australia's exclusive economic zone extends to a distance of roughly 200 nautical miles offshore, but excludes the area in the Timor Sea known as 'Zone A of the Timor Gap Zone of Cooperation'.

Excluded from Australia's statistical territory:
  • Norfolk Island, Heard Island, The McDonald Islands, Christmas Island, The Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory. While all are Australian territories, they are effectively treated as foreign countries in Australia's international merchandise trade statistics. While the ABS can provide information on Australia's exports to, and imports from, each of these territories, we have no information on their trade with other countries. Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are administered by the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTRS). Each has an administrator appointed by the Governor-General. The Australian Antarctic Territory and the sub-antarctic territories of Heard Island and The McDonald Islands are managed by the Australian Antarctic Division of the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Heritage. Territorial enclaves abroad are also excluded.

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