International Trade in Services (Survey of)

   Page tools:

    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    The Survey of International Trade in Services (SITS) is an important information source for compiling Australia's balance of payments of statistics. Balance of payments statistics are compiled from existing administration systems wherever possible (eg most information on exports and imports of goods is obtained from the Australian Customs Service). However, for most types of trade in services there is no alternative information source and ABS must obtain the necessary information from the providers of these services. Following is an outline of the nature, uses and users of balance of payments statistics

    Balance of payments

    The balance of payments is one of Australia's key sets of economic statistics. The balance of payments measures the economic transactions between Australian residents and the rest of the world. Economic transactions include:

exports and imports of goods;
exports and imports of services;
income flows eg dividends and interest earned by foreigners/Australians on investments in Australia/abroad;
capital flows eg acquisition/disposal of non-produced non-financial assets from/to abroad;
financial flows eg investment in shares, debt securities and loans, and
transfers eg funds brought by migrants to Australia.

Balance of payments statistics assist a wide range of decisions, for example:

microeconomic and macroeconmic policy formulation;
economic performance assessment, and
multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations.

    Users of balance of payments statistics include:

Government eg the Commonwealth Treasury, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Reserve Bank of Australia;
finance sector economists, national and international investors;
financial journalists; and
international agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    There is no comprehensive source or list to identify enterprises that engage in trade in services. Other alternative sources including, the ABS Australian Business Register (ABR), newspaper articles, industry bodies and associations, annual reports, ATO records, and other ABS surveys are used to identify enterprises that may be in scope of the survey. These enterprises are sent a coverage questionnaire to confirm their details.

    The data are used in conjunction with other source data, for the compilation of services export (credits) and import (debits) estimates in the balance of payments.

    International Standards (BPM6, MSITS 2010, EBOPS 2010) recommend publishing by 12 service types:

    a) Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others
    b) Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.
    c) Transport
    d) Travel
    e) Construction
    f) Insurance and Pension services
    g) Financial services
    h) Charges for the use of intellectual property n.i.e.
    i) Telecommunications, computer and information services
    j) Other business services
    k) Personal, cultural and recreational services
    l) Government goods and services n.i.e.

    Of which, we do not have an alternate data source for c, e, h, i, j, k and parts of d and g.

    This survey collects data for the service types we do not have an alternate data source for. Additionally, this survey also collects information for Balance of Payments and International Investment data sets.

    The coverage survey (BOP45) is sent to businesses who are likely undertaking trade in services. The businesses are selected from an algorithm based on characteristics from the business register, SITS intelligence and business profiling information. The results of the coverage form determine:
    • whether it is in scope (selecting any value in c, d, e, g, h, i, j, k)
    • stratum (The value of trade in services in particular service types).

    The scope of the SITS is all resident enterprises in Australia that engage in (or are likely to in the near future) certain selected services traded internationally (ie with non-residents) or who earn or pay royalties and licence fees from or to non-residents.

    In 2013 the survey population was approximately 3,300 enterprises and the number of business surveyed each quarter was approximately 1,350 with approximately 880 businesses completely enumerated (i.e they are surveyed each quarter and not rotated out of the survey). The remainder represent a partial coverage of units, with businesses out of scope of the collection not sent a survey.


    Conceptual framework
    The conceptual framework is provided by the International Monetary Fund's Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (Sixth Edition, 2009, BPM6). Further elaboration is provided in the United Nation's Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Services (2010, MSITS 2010).

    Broadly speaking, the Australian balance of payments is a statistical statement designed to provide a systematic record of Australia's economic transactions with the rest of the world. It may be described as a system of consolidated accounts in which the accounting entity is the Australian economy and the entries refer to economic transactions between residents of Australia and residents of the rest of the world (non-residents).

    For further information refer to Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia, Concepts Sources and Methods (ABS 5331.0).

    Main outputs
    The SITS provides estimates of international trade in services which are published:

    • monthly in International Trade in Goods and Services (ABS 5368.0);
    • quarterly in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (ABS 5302.0); and
    • annually in International Trade in Services by Country, by State and by Detailed Services Category, Financial Year (ABS 5368.0.55.003), International Trade in Services by Country, by State and by Detailed Services Category, Calendar Year (ABS 5368.0.55.004) and Characteristics of Australia's Exports (ABS cat. no. 5368.0.55.006)

    The main classifications used in SITS are:
    • service type (Extended Balance of Payments Services - EBOPS);
    • partner country;
    • state;

    Other concepts (summary)
    Not applicable.

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    Residents of Norfolk Island and other external territories of Australia are regarded as residents of Australia's economic territory.


    Frequency comments
    Survey of International Trade in Services (SITS) is a quarterly survey.

    The SITS commenced as an annual survey with respect to the reference year 1987-88 and became a quarterly survey in the reference year 1995-96.

    Up until the March quarter 2014, there are 11 different form types:

    BOP24: Non-resident Producers of Sea Transport Services
    BOP25: Australian Resident Producers of Sea Transport Services
    BOP30: Non-Resident Producers of Air Transport Services
    BOP31: Australian Resident Producers of Air Transport Services
    BOP40: Transactions of Resident with Non-Residents in Services and Royalties
    BOP41: Telecommunication Services
    BOP42: Postal Services
    BOP46: Audio-Visual Royalties and Services
    BOP47: Information Technology Services and Royalties
    BOP49: Education Services
    BOP51: Offshore Gambling Services

    Additionally we also have the BOP45: Coverage Survey of International Trade in Services. This survey is used to identify businesses which have relevant Trade in Services. BOP45 was redesigned and transitioned to a web-based collection from March 2013. The results of the coverage form feed through the business register and updates the collection object associated with SITS. This collection object informs information surrounding the survey, including form type and stratification.

    From the June quarter 2014 reference period, we aim to be a single paper form and a single web-based form collection. With the above 11 forms (excluding BOP45) merged with significant duplication removed.


    Data availability comments
    The data from SITS is combined with other sources of data for trade in services, to provide a comprehensive picture of trade in services (on a balance of payments basis). Data releases are described above under Main Outputs.

    22/12/2015 01:32 PM