In the interests of compatibility and comparability, and to reinforce the SACC as an Australian statistical standard, the ABS urges the use of the standard four-digit classification codes wherever possible. However, it is acknowledged that in certain circumstances a three-digit code is relevant for dissemination to support international comparison purposes, or is more expedient because of collection, processing and data storage constraints, or because data are provided on administrative records with a three-digit code. In such circumstances the ABS recommends use of the three-digit numeric International Organization for Standardization (ISO) codes published in: Codes for the Representation of Names of Countries and their Subdivisions, ISO 3166–1:1997. To assist users, these codes are included in the SACC with a mapping to the standard four-digit codes. This mapping of SACC to ISO codes is presented in the coding indexes, and thus has been done for coding index entries as well as the actual categories of the classification to facilitate the use of ISO codes in statistical systems (see Appendixes 4 to 7). The ISO codes have been included in the SACC by permission of Standards Australia who act on behalf of the ISO in Australia.
In circumstances where standard SACC codes cannot be used, and the ISO codes are used instead, the ABS urges that data be produced and presented within the framework of the SACC (main classification structure or alternative standard country groupings).
In some data collections, particularly those relating to international trade, telecommunications and transport statistics, data are often coded using alpha characters. This is because of the possibility for establishing a visual association between a country name and its corresponding code. In the ISO code list, two-character and three-character alpha codes are used to establish this link between the code and the name of the country in English. For example, the two-character and three-character codes for Australia are AU and AUS. These codes are included in the SACC coding indexes with a mapping to the standard four-digit codes. It should be noted that for most statistical purposes numeric codes are regarded as being more useful and conventional than alpha codes. Alpha codes should be avoided unless there is an established reason for using them.
The UN Standard Country or Area Codes for Statistical Use uses the same codes as those issued by the ISO for its country units. It is possible to re-aggregate the SACC units to the groupings of the UN classification for the purposes of international comparison and this is facilitated by the use of ISO codes (see Appendix 8 for the concordance between the SACC and UN classification).
A number of supplementary codes are used in the SACC to process inadequate data, economic and political groupings, and economic and other entities not equating directly to countries. These supplementary categories, which are not included in the ABS standard set of country units, together with the SACC categories at the first and second level of the structure, have been assigned ISO codes not used by the ISO for the recognised country units.