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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6.9. As with all transactions, the basis on which transactions in goods should, in principle, be valued is market value. Conventionally, transaction prices are used as the closest practical approximation to market prices.

Point of valuation

6.10. The point at which goods should be valued is, by convention, free on board (f.o.b.) at the customs frontier of the exporting country. An f.o.b. price at the customs frontier includes the value of the goods, the value of outside packaging (other than international containers used for containerised cargo), and related distributive services used, up to and including loading the goods onto the carrier at the customs frontier of the exporting country. The customs frontier (which may not coincide physically with the national boundary) is recommended internationally as the point of valuation for two reasons:

      • to promote uniformity between countries’ statistics, i.e. goods shipped from country A to country B will be valued consistently as A’s exports and as B’s imports in balance of payments statistics; and
      • for many countries, customs records form the only practical source for their international trade statistics and balance of payments goods accounts.
The physical movement of goods across customs frontiers and the appropriate points of valuation are illustrated in diagram 6.2.


Goods credits (exports)

6.11. Exports in international trade statistics are valued at f.o.b. port of shipment, generally using transaction values. Charges for international freight, merchandise insurance and any other distributive services provided beyond the customs frontier are included in the appropriate services components when the services are provided by a resident to a non-resident, or vice versa. Goods shipped on consignment are initially valued at the f.o.b. Australian port of shipment equivalent of the current price offering for similar goods of Australian origin in the principal markets of the country to which the goods are dispatched for sale. Exporters who do not know the value of the goods at shipment and enter an approximate value must subsequently submit an entry either confirming or revising the original estimate.

Goods debits (imports)

6.12. Imports in Australian international trade statistics are primarily recorded at the customs value. The starting point for establishing the customs value is the price actually paid or payable to the supplier (transaction value), provided a number of conditions are met. The most important of these is that the buyer and seller must be independent of each other (i.e. it is an arm’s length transaction). If the conditions are not met, practical rules are used to determine a substitute price to be used as the customs value. The substitute price is intended to be as close an approximation as possible of the transaction price that would have been struck had the prescribed conditions been met. The customs value includes inland freight, insurance and other distributive services in the exporting country up to the point of export. Where goods are loaded into a container at an inland point and that same container is used to transport the goods internationally, the inland point is taken to be the point of export.

6.13. In addition to the customs value, the f.o.b. value is requested on customs import entries and recorded in the international trade statistical system. This is the value used to record imports in balance of payments statistics. (The upward valuations in substituting customs values for transaction values are largely offset by the reductions in valuation due to shifting the point of valuation back from the f.o.b. point of valuation to the point of containerisation.) Imports are also recorded in the international trade system at their cost, insurance and freight (c.i.f.) value. This is equal to the f.o.b. transaction value plus the costs of freight and merchandise insurance involved in shipping the goods beyond the f.o.b. point up to the customs frontier of the importing economy. The difference between the aggregate f.o.b. and c.i.f. values is used, in conjunction with other data, to derive the freight services debits component in the balance of payments.

Currency conversion

6.14. The values of exports and imports of goods denominated in foreign currencies are converted into Australian dollars at market rates of exchange. Exports denominated in foreign currencies are valued at a representative mid-point of the buy and sell rates applicable at 4 pm on the date of export from Australia. The rates used for imports are the average of three daily readings of the selling rate on the date the goods were loaded onto the international carrier at the foreign port or on the date the goods were packed into a shipping container at the foreign factory.

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