5302.0 - Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia, Dec 2011 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/03/2012   
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1 This publication presents comprehensive details of Australia's international accounts: its balance of payments and international investment position statistics.

2 The conceptual framework used in compiling Australia's balance of payments statistics is based on the International Monetary Fund's Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, Sixth Edition (BPM6). Descriptions of the underlying concepts and structure of the balance of payments and the sources, methods and terms used in compiling estimates are presented in the publication Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1998 (cat. no. 5331.0). This version reflects the international standards prior to BPM6 and is currently being revised. The first part of the revised document was released on 8 March 2011, featuring only the Goods Account. Other components will be released as they become available. Further information on the key changes introduced with BPM6 can be found in the Information Paper: Implementation of New International Statistical Standards in the ABS National and International Accounts, September 2009 (cat. no. 5310.0.55.002).


3 In keeping with BPM6 conventions, balance of payments credit entries are shown with an implied positive sign and debit items are shown as negative entries. References to balance of payments debit items in Key Figures, Key Points, and Analysis and Comments are made without regard to sign.

4 For foreign liabilities, position data and any transaction increase or other flow increase in liabilities is shown without sign. A negative sign for transactions and other flows in liabilities denotes a fall in liabilities. For foreign assets, position data and any transaction increase or other flow increase in assets is shown with a negative sign. Transactions and other flows in assets shown without sign denote a decrease in assets.

5 Movements over time are expressed as percentage changes. A minus sign means a decrease in credit entries, a decrease in debit entries, a decrease in a surplus or an increase in a deficit. The absence of a sign means an increase in credit entries, an increase in debit entries, an increase in a surplus or a decrease in a deficit. Percentage change is not applicable if there is a change from a surplus to a deficit, or vice versa.


6 While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of estimates, care should be exercised in the use and interpretation of estimates in this publication. The transactions occurring in the balance of payments are of many different kinds, and therefore the compilation of balance of payments and international investment position estimates entails the use of a very wide range of statistical data of varying degrees of accuracy and timeliness. For the latest quarter estimates for the non-goods items are based on preliminary data from providers (using careful estimates where exact figures are unavailable) and fewer survey responses than subsequent estimates. Also, detailed investigations into reported data may be ongoing. As late returns are received, investigations are finalised and more accurate data come to hand, revisions will be made to improve the quality of these estimates.

7 Most series are subject to revision as more complete and accurate information becomes available. In original terms, the goods and services data are revised for previous and current financial years to incorporate the latest available survey and administrative data. In addition, in the September issue revisions can be applied to the four previous financial years. All other series are revised for the three previous financial years and the current financial year.

8 In seasonally adjusted and trend terms, revisions may occur at any time point but tend to focus on the most recent estimates. Please also refer to paragraphs 12 (seasonal adjustment) and 14 (trend estimates) below.


9 Australia's economic territory, on a balance of payments and international investment position basis, is the area under the effective control of the Australian government. It includes the land area, airspace, territorial waters, including jurisdiction over fishing rights and rights to fuels and minerals. Australian economic territory also includes territorial enclaves in the rest of the world. These are clearly demarcated areas of land, located in other countries and which are owned or rented by the Australian government for diplomatic, military, scientific or other purposes. Specifically, the economic territory of Australia consists of:

  • Geographic Australia which includes Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island;
  • Norfolk Island;
  • Australian Antarctic Territory;
  • Heard Island and McDonald Islands;
  • Territory of Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island;
  • Coral Sea Islands;
  • Australia's territorial enclaves overseas; and
  • the Joint Petroleum Development Area (joint territory between Australia and East Timor (Timor-Leste)).

10 Because of administrative complexities and measurement difficulties, Norfolk Island transactions with the rest of the world will not always be captured in all relevant balance of payments and international investment position statistics. Most of the transactions involving Norfolk Island are not material to Australia's trade performance and not capturing these transactions will not distort these statistics. However, any significant transactions will be identified and included in the relevant statistics.


11 Quarterly original estimates are volatile, being subject to calendar-related and large irregular influences. Seasonally adjusted estimates are derived by estimating and removing from the original series systematic calendar related effects, such as seasonal (e.g. Christmas), trading day and moving holiday (e.g. Easter) influences. Seasonal adjustment does not aim to remove the irregular or non-seasonal influences which may be present in any particular quarter. These irregular influences may reflect both random economic events and difficulties of statistical recording. Though efforts are made to align monthly and quarterly data, monthly seasonally adjusted estimates released in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) may not align with the quarterly estimates released in this publication due to different compilation procedures necessary for monthly and quarterly data.

12 The seasonally adjusted statistics in this publication use the concurrent seasonal adjustment technique and Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) modelling to estimate factors for the current and previous quarters. Under concurrent seasonal adjustment, the estimates of seasonal factors are fine-tuned as new or revised original estimates become available each period. The seasonally adjusted estimates are subject to revisions at each reference quarter as the estimates of seasonal factors are improved. In some cases, chain volume measures are adequately seasonally adjusted by using the current price values' seasonal factors. However, in other cases, this is not an adequate method of seasonal adjustment. These cases outlined below, require independent seasonal adjustment from September quarter 2005 to take account of the different seasonal patterns observed between the corresponding chain volume measures and current price values.
  • Goods credits (exports)
      • metal ores and minerals
      • coal, coke and briquettes
      • other mineral fuels
  • Goods debits (imports)
      • fuels and lubricants.

13 ARIMA modelling relies on the characteristics of the series being analysed to project future period data. ARIMA modelling is used on a case-by-case basis where it results in reduced revisions to seasonally adjusted series when subsequent data becomes available. The projected values are temporary, intermediate values, that are only used internally to improve the estimation of the seasonal factors. The projected data do not affect the original estimates and are discarded at the end of the seasonal adjustment process. The ARIMA model is assessed as part of the annual review for both chain volume measures and current price values and following the 2011 annual review, the majority of directly seasonally adjusted time series in the current account use an ARIMA model.

14 Trend estimates are published as the quarter-to-quarter movements of the seasonally adjusted estimates may not be reliable indicators of underlying behaviour because they include irregular or non-seasonal movements. Trend estimates reduce the effect of these movements as they are derived by applying a 7-term Henderson moving average to the seasonally adjusted series. The 7-term Henderson moving average (like all Henderson averages) is symmetric, but as the end of a time series is approached, asymmetric forms of the average are applied. While the asymmetric weights enable trend estimates for recent quarters to be produced, it does result in revisions to the estimates for the most recent three quarters as additional observations become available. Revisions to trend estimates can also occur because of revisions to the original data and as a result of the re-estimation of the seasonal factors. Trend estimates should be used with caution, especially around the time of unusual influences, until these have been appropriately taken into account. Please take note of the footnotes in tables that include trend estimates.

15 Information papers and articles on time series methods are available on the ABS website:


16 The Analysis and Comments section of this publication contains references to volume and price movements of data. Volume data are in terms of chain volume estimates (see paragraph 17) and price data are in terms of implicit price deflators (see paragraph 19).


17 To enable analysis of the movement of goods and services in ‘real’ terms, estimates of chain volume measures are compiled and published each quarter. Chain volume measures are derived by deflating the original current price series by specially compiled measures of price change. The reference year for chain volume measures is the year prior to the latest complete financial year. The reference year is updated with the release of each September quarter issue of this publication. Prior to the reference year chain volume measures are non-additive, in that the component chain volume measures of an aggregate will not add through to the chain volume measure of the total aggregate. For more information on chain volume measures refer to Information Paper: Australian National Accounts, Introduction of Chain Volume and Price Indexes (cat. no. 5248.0).


18 This publication and the International Trade Price Indexes (ITPI) (cat. no. 6457.0) provide detailed Australian export and import price information for analysts. The ITPI measures changes in the prices of goods imported into Australia (the Import Price Index (IPI)) and goods exported from Australia (the Export Price Index (EPI)). Differences can occur between ITPI measurements and BoP measurements due to coverage, scope, timing adjustments and weighting patterns.


19 The quarterly implicit price deflators (IPDs) are derived by dividing current price estimates by the corresponding chain volume measures. Movements in IPDs can be greatly affected by changes in the physical composition of the aggregates and their components. The quarterly IPDs derived from seasonally adjusted data are preferred to those using original data because the seasonal adjustment process removes some of the seasonal changes in the composition of this series. However, the seasonal adjustment process itself is also a possible source of distortion.


20 Quarterly estimates of the terms of trade shown in table 6 of this publication are derived from seasonally adjusted data. The Terms of Trade index is a ratio, that measures the relative prices of a country's credits to debits. The ABS calculates the Terms of Trade index using the following formula: Equation: formula for calculating the Terms of Trade index.  The formula is the implicit price deflator for the credit item divided by the implicit price deflator for the debit item multiplied by 100


21 The TWI is an indicator of movements in the average value of the Australian dollar. The TWI is calculated by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) as a geometric average of a basket of currencies that are representative of Australia's trading patterns. As of December 2011 the RBA has changed the methodology for compiling the TWI to include both merchandise and services trade, rather than merchandise trade only.


22 The chain Laspeyres price indexes are derived by combining individual component prices with weights which reflect the average relative importance of the components in the previous year. These are then indexed to the relevant reference year. For all periods since the latest reference year, reference year weights are used.


23 The Index of Commodity Prices (ICP) released monthly by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is a weighted average of price movements for the 20 largest commodities in Australia's exports, which currently account for 85% of primary commodity export earnings, re-based to 2008-09. Differences between the ICP and price statistics released by the ABS are largely a consequence of methodological differences used in the compilation of the respective statistics, including coverage of included commodities and timing of source data. Inclusion of the ICP is for comparative purposes.


24 The introduction of BPM6 has resulted in a number of new international investment series in tables 26 and 27. Where possible, historical series have been created. In a small number of cases this was not feasible. For 'other equity' the opening position for September quarter 2009 is shown as zero and reconciliation between the opening position of zero and the reported closing position is via an 'other adjustment'. Similarly for 'between fellow enterprises', September quarter 2009 opening positions for 'direct investor claims on direct investment enterprises' and 'direct investment enterprises claims on direct investors (reverse investment)' include positions between fellow enterprises. Reconciliation between these opening positions, which include fellow enterprises, and closing positions, which do not include fellow enterprises, is via 'other adjustments'.


25 In table 32 ‘currency’ refers to the currency in which assets or liabilities are likely to be repaid, while ‘residual maturity’ refers to the time remaining until an asset or liability is due to be fully repaid. Reserve assets are not allocated by currency. All reserve assets are allocated to the repayment category ‘less than or equal to 90 days’ although a range of maturities may be involved.


26 The industry categories shown are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0). Industry statistics should be treated with some caution as they do not necessarily reflect the industry of the end use of the funds. First, the statistical unit (that is, the unit of observation and classification) generally consists of all enterprises in an enterprise group within a single resident institutional sector. The industry of this statistical unit, which may cover a broad range of activities, is determined on the basis of the predominant activity of the unit as a whole which may be quite different from the industry in which funds are used. Second, financial enterprises such as trading and merchant banks, may borrow funds as principals and then on-lend to clients in other industries.


27 Commodity breakdowns of general merchandise credits are provided in tables; 7 (at current prices), 9 (at current prices, seasonally adjusted), 11 (chain volume measures, seasonally adjusted) and 13 (implicit price deflators, seasonally adjusted). The groupings shown are based on the United Nations' Standard International Trade Classification, Revision 4 (SITC Rev 4).

28 Commodity breakdowns of general merchandise debits are provided in tables; 8 (at current prices), 10 (at current prices, seasonally adjusted), 12 (chain volume measures, seasonally adjusted) and 14 (implicit price deflators, seasonally adjusted). The three broad end-use categories - Consumption goods, Capital goods and Intermediate and other merchandise goods - are based on United Nations’ Classification of Broad Economic Categories (BEC). These broad end-use categories are further divided into a total of 25 SITC based commodity groupings.

29 For more information on the commodity classification of general merchandise debits and a detailed concordance between balance of payments general merchandise debits end-use categories, commodity groups, BEC and SITC Rev 4, refer to Information Paper: Impact of introducing Revision 4 of the Standard International Trade Classification, 2008 (cat. no. 5368.0.55.010).


30 The tourism related services memorandum items provide timely indicators of the movements in tourism related activities, not an absolute measure of the level of these activities. The tourism related indicator has been derived by combining total travel services (business, education-related and other personal travel) and passenger transportation services (which includes agency fees and commissions for air transport).


31 Current account data ratios are calculated by dividing the data for reference quarter/year for the relevant item by the corresponding current price Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or Gross National Income (GNI) value. GDP and GNI are estimated according to the System of National Accounts, 2008 (2008 SNA) and will not be directly comparable with countries who have not yet implemented 2008 SNA. Refer to the explanatory notes of the Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (cat. no 5206.0) publication for more detail on GDP.

32 Quarterly series use seasonally adjusted data (unless otherwise indicated). Original data are used for series that do not have seasonality. These series are footnoted accordingly. However seasonally adjusted GDP and GNI are used in these ratios.

33 Ratios for the Net International Investment Position are derived using levels for those series at the end of the period and GDP or GNI for the year ended with that period. For example, when calculating the GDP Net foreign equity ratio for the September quarter 2009, the level of Net foreign equity at September 2009 is divided by the sum of the four quarters of seasonally adjusted GDP ending September 2009 (the December 2008, March 2009, June 2009 and September 2009 quarters).

34 As the international accounts are released prior to the national accounts, the current quarter's GDP and GNI are not available and are annotated 'nya'. The previous quarter's value is used to calculate a preliminary ratio for the current quarter. For Net International Investment Position data, this will mean that the sum of the four quarters for GDP or GNI ending the previous quarter will be used for the current quarter's ratios.


35 Discrepancies may occur between totals in this publication and the same aggregates from other sources, and between sums of component items and totals due to rounding.


36 Users may also wish to refer to the following publications which can be downloaded free of charge from the ABS website:
37 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the Statistics tab on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead. Theme pages are available on the ABS website. Select Topics @ a Glance - Economy - Balance of Payments or Foreign Investment and Foreign Debt. These pages provide direct links to all balance of payments, foreign investment and foreign debt related data and publications, recent changes and forthcoming events, links to relevant websites and a range of other information about the Australian International Accounts.

38 Estimates for periods prior to those shown in this publication are available from Time Series Spreadsheets. Detailed data on exports and imports of goods, including dissections by commodity and country of origin, are also available from Time Series Spreadsheets on a recorded trade basis (see tables 12 to 15 and 31 to 37 of 5368.0 or tables released with 5439.0). If more detailed data is required it can be obtained by contacting the Client Service telephone number shown at the contact us website. There may be a charge for this information, depending on the volume of data requested.