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International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia methodology, August 2020

Reference period
August 2020

Explanatory notes

Introduction

This publication presents preliminary monthly statistics on Australia's international trade in merchandise (goods) on an original, current price, merchandise trade basis only. Final estimates are released approximately 2 weeks after this publication in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0).

Goods statistics presented on a merchandise trade basis are compiled from information submitted by exporters and importers (or their agents) to the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs), whereas Balance of Payments (BoP) basis refers to statistics that are derived from this same data but have adjustments applied for factors such as valuation, coverage, timing and residence, as required by the Australian System of National Accounts.

More comprehensive estimates of Australia’s trade in both goods and services (including on a BoP basis data) are included in the monthly publication, International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0); and quarterly in publication, Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0). Detailed monthly statistics on merchandise trade are available in time series spreadsheets on the ABS website in those publications and on ABS.stat, or by subscription to tailored services.

A complete list of other publications that contain trade data or supporting information about trade data can be seen below under Related products and publications.

Concepts, sources and methods

The conceptual framework used in compiling Australia's goods trade statistics can be found in International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5489.0).

Classifications

The goods trade statistics on an international merchandise trade basis are presented using the following commodity classifications:

  • the Standard International Trade Classification Revision 4 (SITC Rev. 4)
  • the Balance of Payments Broad Economic Categories (BoPBEC) (for imports); and
  • the Balance of Payments Classification for Exports (BoPCE) (for exports)
     

The international merchandise trade statistics shown in tables 1 and 2 are classified by the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC). All data from July 2005 are presented according to SITC Rev. 4, and data prior to July 2005 are presented according to SITC Rev. 3. For details refer to ‘Information Paper: Impact of introducing Revision 4 of the Standard International Trade Classification, 2008 (cat. No. 5368.0.55.010).

Australia’s statistical territory

Australia uses import and export customs declarations collated by the Department of Home Affairs as the primary source for compiling goods trade statistics. The jurisdiction of the Department of Home Affairs does not extend to goods exported and imported by Norfolk Island, Heard Island, McDonald Islands, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, the Australian Antarctic Territory or Australia's territorial enclaves abroad. As a result, these areas are excluded from the statistical territory covered by Australia's international goods trade statistics. More detailed information on Australia’s statistical territory can be found in International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5489.0).

Accuracy, reliability and revisions

Caution should be exercised in the interpretation and use of the preliminary data in this publication as they may be different to the final estimates.

While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the estimates, data are preliminary, and most series are still subject to revision as more complete and accurate information becomes available. Each month goods trade statistics are revised for the previous six months to incorporate the latest available data.

Rounding

Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.

Confidentiality of merchandise trade statistics

The release of statistics for certain goods trade commodities is restricted in order to prevent the identification of the activities of an individual business, where this is requested by the business concerned. These restrictions do not affect the total value of exports and imports, but they can affect statistics at the country, and commodity levels, and other details only available on request such as Australian ports. For information on the confidentiality restrictions applied to the goods statistics in this publication, refer to the current issue of International Merchandise Trade: Confidential Commodities List (CCL) (cat. no. 5372.0.55.001).

Exports data that have the confidentiality restrictions 'No commodity details' or 'No value details' are now aggregated into a single confidential commodity code. For data prior to June 2013, these data are added back into the appropriate country total (i.e. these totals show the correct level of trade). From June 2013 onwards, these confidential data are not added back to the relevant country totals. Instead the confidential data are published as 'No country details' in the country totals. Therefore, country totals from June 2013 may not represent the actual amount of trade in each country but only the trade in commodities without a 'No commodity details' or 'No value details' restriction.

Imports data that have the confidentiality restrictions 'No commodity details' or 'No value details' are aggregated into a single confidential commodity code. For data prior to September 2008, these data are added back into the appropriate country total (i.e. these totals show the correct level of trade). From September 2008 onwards, these confidential data are not added back to the relevant country totals. Instead the confidential data are published as 'No country details' in the country totals. Therefore, country totals from September 2008 may not represent the actual amount of trade in each country but only the trade in commodities without a 'No commodity details' or 'No value details' restriction.

ABS data available

More detailed international merchandise trade data including, detailed commodity, country and state data and seasonally adjusted data, data on a balance of payments basis and forward seasonal factors are available as time series spreadsheets or data cubes in publication International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) and/or on ABS.stat on the ABS website.

International merchandise trade data by commodity, country and state that are not on the ABS website may be available on request. Inquiries should be made through the ABS Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or the Information Consultancy link on the ABS website. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

Related products and publications

Users may also wish to refer to the following publications which can be downloaded free of charge from the ABS website.

Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available from the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.