5489.0 - International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2015  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/11/2015   
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1.12 The ABS considers the primary purpose of international merchandise trade statistics is to provide a high quality essential input to Australia's balance of payments and other macroeconomic statistics and to provide an early indicator of Australia's economic and international trade performance. The ABS also recognises the ongoing demand for, and use of, detailed statistics for regulatory and policy purposes, monitoring trade flows and market research by a wide variety of organisations. These different users need different data, ranging from datasets by country and commodity and at varying levels of detail to aggregated statistics. The main users and uses are described in Box 1.1.


  • Balance of payments, national accounts and price index compilers in the ABS use the data as input into various statistics.
  • Australian Government Departments, international businesses or other private organisations who use the data for: regulatory and economic policy purposes, monitoring commodity trade flows, assisting in the development of trade policy including trade negotiations, monitoring trade agreements and settling trade disputes, and as input to infrastructure planning purposes, e.g. development of seaports, airports etc.
  • Private sector businesses and individuals use the data to monitor export performance and import penetration to analyse market share and to assess import competition.
  • International agencies such as the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). While the uses vary by agency, they use the data in comparisons of partner country statistics and to understand the extent of Australia's adherence to the UN standards.
  • International merchandise trade compilers in other countries use the statistics to compare with their own estimates and practices.
  • Journalists use the statistics to provide media comment on Australia's merchandise trade flows with the rest of the world.
  • Academic researchers, teachers and students use international merchandise trade statistics as part of their research, teaching and learning.