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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5.1 This paper presents details about the new international framework for compiling international merchandise trade statistics, IMTS 2010. The new standard was developed after the related statistical standards for balance of payments and national accounts, and promotes greater cooperation between compilers. It also contains recommendations and improvements which are relevant to the current patterns of international trade and which enhance the use and understanding of the statistics. However, IMTS 2010 does contain a number of new recommendations which present practical difficulties for Australia because the necessary data are not included in the main data source: export and import declarations supplied to Customs and Border Protection.


5.2 The primary purpose of the statistics is to provide high quality, monthly information about Australia's economic and international trade performance for the balance of payments and other data users. This purpose is used to assess the new conceptual recommendations which are included in IMTS 2010. In nearly all instances the information needed to fully populate the international merchandise trade dataset is not included in the declarations data supplied to Customs and Border Protection. The data must be obtained from another source and existing ABS resources would need to be re–directed towards collecting, compiling and quality assuring the data. There would be an additional burden on data providers and a delay in the release of the statistics. In most instances the value of these data are included in Australia's balance of payments statistics so the cost to collect and compile the data, and impact on timing significantly outweigh any benefit to macroeconomic users.

5.3 IMTS 2010 also contains a number of other new recommendations which are described in Chapter 4 (IMTS 2010 recommendations that already apply in Australia) but as Australia already adheres to these no action is necessary. These recommendations reflect current patterns of international trade and are aimed at improving the use and understanding of the statistics. They are examples of the standards catching up with changes which have been taking place in the way international trade is conducted and the expectations of the international statistical community since the 1998 framework was released.

5.4 The purpose of international statistical standards is to promote international data comparability. Wherever possible the ABS strives to be consistent with the recommendations. While lack of data and the importance of timely release prevent the full application of all the recommendations the ABS plans to adopt the new standard where it is practical to do so.


5.5 Users are invited to comment on the evaluation of the IMTS 2010 for Australia's international merchandise trade statistics and the ABS position presented throughout the paper in terms of the purpose and use of the statistics. The evaluation and ABS position only affect the statistics published in International Merchandise Imports, Australia (cat. no. 5439.0) and the merchandise exports and imports tables, spreadsheets and data cubes in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0). The data on a balance of payments basis are not affected.

5.6 Written submissions (preferably via email) to the ABS by no later than 17 September 2013.

5.7 Submissions should be sent in PDF or Microsoft Word format. Submissions should be emailed to: international.trade@abs.gov.au (submissions should use the words 'Comments on IMTS 2010 Recommendations' in the title of the email). Please advise if you prefer your submission not to be made publicly available for discussion.

5.8 If required, submissions can also be sent by post addressed to:

The Director
International Trade in Goods and Services Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
GPO Box 66
Hobart TAS 7001

5.9 The next stages will depend on the feedback provided in the submissions. If the ABS position is clearly endorsed, an implementation date for the changes to pipelines and undersea communication cable will be advised to users in the international trade publications (catalogue numbers 5368.0 and 5439.0) planned for released in October 2013. If the ABS position is not endorsed, further discussions with those providing feedback will be held.

5.10 The ABS also intends to release an updated version of International Merchandise Trade, Australia, Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2001 (cat. no. 5489.0) by mid 2014.