5368.0.55.020 - Information Paper: Proposed Implementation of the New International Standard for International Merchandise Trade Statistics, 2013  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/08/2013   
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2008 SNA

The 2008 System of National Accounts which is the international standard followed by Australia for the compilation of national accounts statistics.


AHECC is the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification which is used in the collection and dissemination of Australia's export statistics. At its most detailed level the AHECC comprises over 5,600 eight–digit codes. The first six digits are the same as the Harmonized System (HS) and are internationally comparable.

Balance of payments

The balance of payments is a statement that summarises the economic transactions between residents and non–residents of the compiling economy during a specific time period. It consists of the goods and services account, the primary income account, the secondary income account, the capital account and the financial account.

Balance of payments basis

Balance of payments basis refers to the adjustment of Australia's export and import statistics on an international merchandise trade basis to a change of ownership basis for the balance of payments. There are 3 types of adjustments:

  • timing adjustments so that the transactions are recorded in the period in which ownership changed, rather than in the month in which the transactions were finalised by Customs and Border Protection (imports) or the month in which the goods departed from Australia (exports)
  • coverage adjustments to include goods which changed ownership but did not enter or leave Australia's statistical territory and to remove goods which did not involve a change of ownership between a resident and a non–resident
  • valuation adjustments are made when the international merchandise trade value is found to be incorrectly estimated or reported.

See also international merchandise trade basis.


Heavy material (including sand, water) carried by vessels or aircraft for ensuring proper stability during international journeys.


This is the current international standard followed by Australia for the compilation of balance of payments statistics.


Fuel and other petroleum products loaded aboard a vessel for consumption by that vessel.

Change of ownership

Change of ownership is as defined in the 2008 SNA and BPM6. When this principle is applied to the recording of transactions in goods it refers to the change in ownership of products from one unit to another and the timing is considered to occur when the 'parties enter the goods in their books and make a corresponding change to their financial assets and liabilities.' The 2008 SNA and BPM6 apply the criterion of change of ownership to all national and international transactions (2008 SNA paragraphs 2.46–2.49, BPM6 paragraphs 3.44–3.45).
Classification changes

Classification changes refer to amendments made by the ABS to the reported AHECC or HTISC on customs declarations. The need for amendment is identified through editing and goods may be reclassified to or from international merchandise trade.

Customs declarations

Export and import declarations are usually electronic documents submitted by the owner of the goods (or their agent) to Customs and Border Protection for the purpose of clearing the goods from customs control. Each declaration consists of a header section (which contains information about the entire consignment e.g. the owner details, value of the consignment, country and port information) and a line section. There are often multiple lines in the line section covering the different goods included in a single consignment. Each line will include the commodity code, description of the goods, line value and line quantity.

Customs procedure

A customs procedure is a 'treatment applied by the customs to goods which are subject to customs control' (IMTS 2010, paragraph 8.4). These procedures may assist in the identification of goods which are included in or excluded from international merchandise trade statistics e.g. temporary trade.

Customs Tariff

Since 1 January 1988, all goods requiring a full customs declaration for import into Australia are classified according to the ten–digit HTISC of the Customs Tariff. See also HTISC below.


Material laid beneath or between cargo and other parts of vessels or aircraft to prevent damage.


Duty is the total amount of duty paid (in Australian dollars) in respect of imported goods. It reflects the rate of duty appropriate to those goods (as outlined in the Customs Tariff), plus any applicable dumping duty. Duty may be calculated at an ad valorem or fixed rate, or a combination of both. Duty excludes the payment of GST or excise.

Duty fields

Duty fields refer to the data used by Customs and Border Protection to calculate duty (including the customs value, rate of duty and country of origin data items) as well as the duty payment fields which contain the the value of duty paid.

Economic territory

The BPM6 definition of economic territory is 'the area under the effective economic control of a single government.' This includes the land area, airspace, territorial waters, jurisdiction over fishing rights and rights to fuels or minerals, any islands that belong to the territory as well as the territorial enclaves in the rest of the world. For international merchandise trade statistics, IMTS 2010, says that that because the concept of economic territory has both physical location and legal jurisdiction dimensions, it also includes installations and apparatus, mobile or not, owned by the resident(s) of a country and operating under the jurisdiction of a country, for example, drilling rigs, ships, aircraft, satellites, communication cable and pipelines (IMTS 2010, paragraph 1.7).


Editing refers to the quality processes used by the ABS to check the declaration information supplied to Customs and Border Protection. It also refers to the quality checks applied to aggregate data prior to the release of the statistics.


Goods which subtract from the stock of material resources in Australia, as a result of their movement out of the country. Goods exported with the reasonable expectation of re–import within a limited time are excluded from international merchandise exports. Included in exports are goods which are produced or manufactured in Australia as well as foreign manufactured goods which were previously imported into Australia – see re–exports.

Goods as defined by the 2008 SNA are 'physical, produced objects for which a demand exists, over which ownership rights can be established and whose ownership can be transferred from one institutional unit to another by engaging in transactions on markets' (2008 SNA, paragraph 6.15).

Goods credits

In the balance of payments exports are known as goods credits.

Goods debits

In the balance of payments imports are known as goods debits.

Goods for processing

Goods for processing enter or leave a country to undergo specific operations or manufacturing which changes the nature of the goods. International merchandise trade statistics record goods for processing and goods resulting from processing at their full transactions value whether or not there is a change of ownership between a resident and a non–resident. When there is no change of ownership, only the value of manufacturing services provided to process the goods is included in services in the balance of payments.


GST is a broad–based tax levied on most supplies of goods and services consumed in Australia. Customs and Border Protection are responsible for collecting GST from importers on goods when imported.

GST fields

GST fields refer to the data items used by Customs and Border Protection to identify the goods subject to GST and to data items which contain the value of GST paid.

Harmonized System (HS)

The HS is a hierarchical classification and is arranged in a logical structure and supported by well–defined rules and explanatory notes to assist in classification decisions and to clarify the scope of the particular headings or sub–headings. The HS was adopted by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in June 1983 and it entered into force on 1 January 1988. Australia began using the HS on that date as the basis for the AHECC and the Customs Tariff and for the compilation and dissemination of international merchandise trade statistics. The HS is used by over 200 countries or economies as the basis for their Customs Tariffs and for their international merchandise trade statistics. Approximately 98% of world merchandise trade is classified in terms of the HS.


HTISC is the Harmonized Tariff Item Statistical Code. There are over 7,500 ten–digit HTISCs in the Customs Tariff. The first six digits of the code are taken from the HS and match the first six digits of the AHECC codes. The seventh and eighth digits are added by Customs and Border Protection to allow for different rates of duty applied to particular goods. The ninth and tenth digits (statistical codes) are added by the ABS to satisfy Australian statistical requirements, and, in some instances, the information needs of regulatory or supervisory agencies (e.g. Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS)) that are authorised to access Customs and Border Protection data.

Goods that arrive in the country and include:
  • goods brought into Australia directly for home consumption following the payment of any duty
  • goods which enter the country but are not cleared for home consumption; the goods instead go into Customs (bonded) warehouses and duty is not paid at that time.
They exclude goods imported with the reasonable expectation of re–export within a limited time.

International merchandise trade basis

International merchandise trade basis refers to the conceptual basis which underlies the compilation of export and import statistics in Australia. The conceptual basis is as defined in International Merchandise Trade, Australia, Concepts,Sources and Methods, 2001 (cat. no. 5489.0). See also balance of payments basis.

International merchandise trade statistics

Goods which add to, or subtract from, the stock of material resources of a country by entering (imports) or leaving (exports) its economic territory. (IMTS 2010 paragraph 1.2).

International non–merchandise trade

Goods which cross the customs frontier, but do not change the country's stock of material resources. These are:
  • goods temporarily admitted or dispatched e.g. goods for art or other exhibitions, animals for breeding, show or racing, transportation containers or equipment
  • goods which temporarily cross the customs frontier for repair or maintenance abroad.
Statistics about Australia's international non–merchandise trade are not included on the ABS website but can be obtained by contacting the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by email at client.services@abs.gov.au.

International trade price indexes

International trade price indexes broadly measure changes in the prices of goods imported into Australia (the Import Price Index (IPI)) and goods exported from Australia (the Export Price Index (EPI)). The prices measured in the indexes exclude import duties, and exclude freight and insurance charges incurred in shipping goods between foreign and Australian ports.
Macroeconomic statistics

Statistics which relate to the entire economy or economies. Australia's macro–economic statistics include the national accounts, input – output, balance of payments, government finance statistics, price indexes and labour force statistics.


BPM6 defines merchanting as 'the purchase of goods by a resident (of the compiling economy) from a non–resident combined with the subsequent resale of the same goods to another non–resident without the goods being present in the compiling economy'. Goods under merchanting are included in the balance of payments but excluded from international merchandise trade statistics.


Metadata is the information that defines and describes data. It is often referred to as data about data or information about data because it provides statistical users with explanatory material e.g. data definitions which enables the statistics to be understood and interpreted.

Mode of transport

The mode of transport is the means of transport used when the goods enter or leave Australia, see table 4.1.

National accounts

The national accounts is a systematic summary of economic activity which was developed to facilitate the practical application of economic theory. At their summary level, the accounts reflect key economic flows: production, income, consumption, investment and saving. At their more detailed level, they are designed to present a statistical picture of the structure of the economy and the detailed processes that make up the domestic production and its distribution. For many analysts, gross domestic product (GDP) is the key economic aggregate. GDP is based on the concept of value added which is the unduplicated value of goods and services produced in the economy in any period.

Nature type (Nature of entry)

Indicates if an import declaration is:
  • Nature 10 – goods imported directly into home consumption
  • Nature 20 – goods imported into Customs bonded warehouse
  • Nature 30 – goods cleared from Customs bonded warehouse.


A non–resident is defined in the 2008 SNA as 'a unit that is a resident of other economies' (2008 SNA, paragraph 2.20). See below for definition of a resident.


Goods originally imported into Australia which are exported in either the same condition in which they were imported, or after undergoing some minor operations (e.g. blending, packaging, bottling, cleaning and sorting) which leave them essentially unchanged. Re–exports are included in international merchandise export statistics.


Goods originally exported which are imported in either the same condition in which they were exported or after undergoing repair or minor alterations (e.g. blending, packaging, bottling, cleaning and sorting) which leave them essentially unchanged. Re–imports are included in international merchandise import statistics.


An institutional unit is a resident 'when it has a centre of predominant economic interest in the economic territory of that country; that is when it engages for an extended period (one year or more being taken as a practical guideline) in economic activities on this territory.' (2008 SNA, paragraphs 2.19–2.20).


Services are not physical objects; they are the result of a production activity that changes the conditions of the consuming units, or facilitates the exchange of products or financial assets. Services are included in Australia's balance of payments but they are not included in international merchandise trade statistics.


SITC is the standard international trade classification which is the primary classification used for the publication and dissemination of broad level commodity information in Australia's international merchandise trade statistics. The fourth revision of SITC (SITC Rev. 4) has been in use since the July 2008 reference month.

Statistical territory

The statistical territory is the territory which is covered by the statistics. The statistical territory for international merchandise trade statistics is defined in Box 3.1.

Supply–use tables

Supply–use tables are produced annually by the ABS to balance the three measures (income, expenditure and production) of Gross Domestic Product.

Treatment codes

Treatment codes are used to indicate special treatment of transactions by Customs and Border Protection (usually involving a concessional rate of duty) in accordance with Schedule 4 of the Customs Tariff.