5489.0 - International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2015  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/11/2015   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All


10.5 In providing a national statistical service, the ABS is committed to a policy of open access to official statistics by all levels of governments and the community. The ABS dissemination objectives are to achieve wide-spread dissemination of information, while recovering the costs involved in providing products and services obtained for private benefit. The balancing of community service obligations and cost recovery principles underpins the ABS dissemination and pricing policy.

10.6 To fulfil legislative requirements and enhance community access to statistics, all current and a number of previous ABS publications are available free from the ABS website. In addition, the ABS distributes copies of its printed publications to selected libraries including the National Library of Australia, State libraries and Parliamentary libraries.

10.7 The ABS recovers from users the costs of providing more detailed information than that included free on the ABS website. The price charged covers overheads incurred beyond the costs of collection and production of clean unit record files from which the information is produced. In the case of international merchandise trade statistics, the price charged covers the cost of operating and capital costs associated with providing such as service. For further information see the ABS pricing policy.


10.8 Release dates for ABS publications are publicly announced in advance within publications and on the ABS Release Advice page on the ABS website. The statistics are embargoed until 11.30am (Canberra time) on the day of release.

10.9 International merchandise trade statistics are presented in the following ABS publications:

10.10 To assist analysis and data interpretation the ABS also produces:
10.11 On rare occasions the normal release dates may change, for example when major changes to systems or classifications are implemented. When this occurs the revised release date is announced well in advance on the ABS website.

10.12 International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) contains monthly estimates of Australia's international trade in goods and services on a balance of payments basis (including seasonally adjusted data), and merchandise export and import statistics on an international merchandise trade basis classified by commodity, country and state. Once the relevant publications are released, the detailed import and export statistics become available. Products which need to be customised, such as subscriptions and ad hoc data requests, may now be disseminated to clients. This occurs no earlier than 1pm Canberra time on the day of release.

10.13 The ABS makes all publications and standard products available free from the ABS website. The release dates and times are also announced in advance and products are released to all users at the same time.

10.14 This policy applies to all ABS data including international merchandise trade statistics.


10.15 Australia's international merchandise trade statistics are subject to revision after they are initially published. Although the revisions made are typically quite small as a proportion of the monthly international merchandise trade results. Revisions may arise because:
  • an amending entry is supplied to the DIBP
  • errors are identified and corrected by the ABS after initial processing
  • errors are identified through queries from statistical users about the published data
  • time series are recompiled because of major changes to classifications, concepts, sources or methods.

10.16 The previous six months of exports and imports data can be revised. Revisions are usually restricted to the previous six months because:
  • analysis shows that revisions for earlier periods are insignificant
  • the subscription services are designed to only deliver data for the current month and the previous six months.


10.17 The impact of major changes to classifications, concepts, sources or methods are notified in advance of implementation. In most cases these changes will result in revisions to the entire or a significant part of the time series to retain methodological consistency. However, the time series for the HS classification (i.e. the detailed transactions level dataset used to compile international merchandise trade statistics) are not revised when the classification changes. This is due to the frequency of changes (i.e. minor updates can occur every 6 months between the main reviews which occur every 5 years), a lack of information available for revising the series and the high cost of doing so.

10.18 To assist users in interpreting the time series data available on the ABS website, Appendix 2 in the 'Downloads' tab, outlines the major changes to international merchandise trade statistics classifications, concepts, sources and methods since January 1988. The impacts resulting from changes are managed in the following ways:
  • break in series - when changes to data are made from a point in time. A break in series is used for relatively minor changes or when there are no comparable data on both the new and old bases, e.g. changes to the HS classification
  • bridging series - a bridging series is included for more significant changes to classifications e.g. the introduction of a SITC revision. A bridging series enables users to see the impact of the new classification for a period of data, e.g. six months or one year
  • backcasting - when an entire series of previous published data is revised and put on the new basis as a result of a significant methodological or conceptual change, e.g. when the HS was first introduced in January 1988 and the change to the timing basis for exports.

10.19 Correspondences provide a link between old and new classifications. Users of international merchandise trade statistics should use correspondences to help understand the impact of any classification change. For more details see Correspondences (paragraphs 5.4-5.8) and Classifications Used by the ABS (paragraphs 5.9-5.14).