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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2.1 The ABS actively promotes the use of international standards for compiling international merchandise trade and other economic statistics. The reasons for this are:
  • analysts will be assured that Australia's official international merchandise trade statistics comply with objective and coherent international standards that reflect current analytic needs
  • users of these statistics need comparable data between countries
  • Australia, as a member of organisations such as the UN and the Organisation for Economic Co–operation and Development (OECD), needs to compile and provide comparable economic statistics in accordance with the standards set by those organisations; and
  • to facilitate bilateral reconciliations which can be used to validate data quality.

2.2 The conceptual framework followed for Australia's international merchandise trade statistics is consistent with the international recommendations set out in the UN publication IMTS Rev.2. In the few instances where Australian reporting practices differ from the standards, the differences do not seriously impact on recorded trade values and no adjustments are considered necessary.


2.3 The process of revising IMTS Rev.2 began in 2007 with country and international experts recognising that changes to the standard were necessary due to: the changing patterns of trade e.g. increased globalisation and bundling of transactions containing goods and services; changes in user needs; increased use of non–customs data sources, especially by countries that are part of a customs union e.g. European Union countries; the need for clarification of some existing concepts and because the related statistical standards for the national accounts and balance of payments had been updated.

2.4 IMTS 2010 was published in 2011. As it is an update of IMTS Rev.2, Australia's international merchandise trade statistics already align with many of the recommendations. IMTS 2010 contains some new recommendations which are intended to make data compiled as consistent as possible with the requirements of 2008 SNA and BPM6. The application of the key conceptual changes for Australia's international merchandise trade statistics is broadly presented in Diagram 2.

Diagram 2 shows IMTS 2010 Key Conceptual Changes


2.5 In concept, the ABS agrees that the key concepts and definitions used in the balance of payments and the system of national accounts should be coherently applied across Australia's economic statistics. In practice, applying the concepts of economic territory and change of ownership to Australia's international merchandise trade statistics will impact upon the release of a high quality early economic indicator. The key IMTS 2010 recommendations, the issues for Australia's international merchandise trade statistics and the ABS position are presented in Chapter 3 (Key conceptual changes which have statistical implications for Australia).

2.6 The importance of providing statistics about the physical movement of goods across borders means that some of the concepts in IMTS 2010 are still different from 2008 SNA and BPM6. Consequently even if the ABS were able to source all the necessary information and populate the international merchandise trade dataset in time to meet the current release schedules, some differences between Australia's international merchandise trade and balance of payments statistics would remain. These differences relate to:
  • goods for processing when there is no change of ownership (included in international merchandise trade but not in the balance of payments)
  • goods sold/purchased under merchanting (included in the balance of payments but not in international merchandise trade)
  • the time of recording. goods are included in the balance of payments at the time ownership changes, while imports are recorded when the declaration is finalised by Customs and Border Protection and exports are recorded when the goods leave Australia
  • goods (other than mobile equipment and satellites) which change ownership without entering or leaving Australia e.g. monetary gold; and
  • valuation amendments applied between the finalisation of international merchandise trade statistics and the release of goods on a balance of payments basis.

2.7 A number of new or important clarifications are also recommended in IMTS 2010. Some of these enable greater consistency with BPM6 and 2008 SNA but others reflect the current patterns of international trade and are intended to enhance the use and understanding of the statistics. These are described in Chapter 4 (IMTS 2010 recommendations that already apply in Australia).

2.8 Appendix 2 summarises Australia's compliance with all of the recommendations contained in IMTS 2010.


2.9 Users are invited to comment on:
  • how they use international merchandise trade statistics and whether this might change if some of the key differences between international merchandise trade and balance of payments statistics are removed?
  • is there a continuing need for the ABS to release both detailed international merchandise trade and goods on a balance of payments basis statistics?