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International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia methodology

Reference period
June 2020
Released
4/08/2020

Explanatory notes

Introduction

This publication presents preliminary estimates of Australia's international trade in goods and services on a balance of payments basis (tables 1-11 and 17) and merchandise import and export statistics on an international merchandise trade basis (tables 12-15 and 31-37) and datacubes (tables 18 and 19). In addition, table 16 Exchange rates and trade-weighted indexes (TWI) are derived by using exchange rates and indexes provided by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). 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. This takes advantage of country-level services trade data that have been published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Merchandise trade statistics on an international merchandise trade basis are compiled from information submitted by exporters and importers or their agents to the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs). Adjustments for coverage, timing and valuation are made to international merchandise trade data to convert them to a balance of payments basis. The services data are sourced from the quarterly Survey of International Trade in Services and a range of administrative data and indicator series.

More comprehensive quarterly estimates of Australia’s trade in goods and services, together with comprehensive details of Australia’s balance of payments are included in the quarterly 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 or by subscription to tailored services. More information can be found in the International Trade: Supplementary Information publication which is available on a financial year basis (cat. no. 5368.0.55.003) following the September issue of this publication and calendar year basis (cat. no. 5368.0.55.004) following the March issue of this publication.

Concepts, sources and methods

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

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 (cat. no. 5310.0.55.002).

To bring merchandise trade statistics on an international merchandise trade basis to a balance of payments basis, timing adjustments are made to ensure that the transaction is recorded in the period in which ownership changed, rather than in the period in which the transaction was recorded by Home Affairs or the period in which the goods arrived in/departed from an Australian port. Adjustments are also made to account for the change of ownership of goods not included in merchandise trade statistics. Chapter 6 of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1998 (cat. no. 5331.0) provides more detail on the relationship between statistics on an international merchandise trade basis and on a balance of payments basis.

International merchandise trade exports data presented for recent months of this publication are based on information initially reported by exporters to Home Affairs. At the time of initial reporting to Home Affairs the final prices may not be known for some commodities. Therefore, the information recorded for recent months for commodities like iron ore and coal can include a variety of prices including previous or current contract prices and the prevailing spot prices. Newly negotiated contract prices may not be fully reflected in the data first reported to Home Affairs, and to compensate for this, the balance of payments series may reflect adjusted price levels.

The Concepts, Sources and Methods publications and information papers are available to download for free from the ABS website. Select Statistics, select By Catalogue Number, under the heading 5. National Accounts, International Trade and Finance select Balance of payments and international investment, and then the catalogue numbers as above.

Classifications

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

  • the Harmonized System 2017 (available on request)
  • the Standard International Trade Classification Revision 4 (SITC Rev. 4)
  • the Classification by Broad Economic Categories (BEC)
  • the industry classification: Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006 (ANZSIC 06) from July 2005.
     

The balance of payments 'goods and services' series are presented according to three classifications with the goods classifications derived from SITC Rev. 4 and BEC. The classifications are:

  • the Balance of Payments Commodities for Exports (BoPCE)
  • the Balance of Payments Broad Economic Categories (BoPBEC) for Imports
  • the Extended Balance of Payments Services Classification (EBOPS).
     

Accuracy, reliability and revisions

While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of estimates, most series are subject to revision as more complete and accurate information becomes available. Care should be exercised in the use and interpretation of estimates in this publication. The transactions occurring in international trade in goods and services are of many different kinds, and therefore the compilation of trade estimates entails the use of a very wide range of statistical data of varying degrees of accuracy and timeliness. For further information see the monthly services series paragraph.

The revisions are applied differently for merchandise trade and balance of payments series. Each month, merchandise trade data are revised for the previous six months to incorporate latest available data.

For the balance of payments 'goods and services' series, in original terms, revisions in the July, October, January or April issues are limited to significant new and revised data from survey sources that have become available since the previous issue. This is to ensure the monthly series align with the comparable series in the most recent issue of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0). In the September issue revisions can be applied to the four previous financial years. In other issues revisions can be applied to the previous and current financial years to incorporate the latest available survey and administrative data.

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 the seasonal adjustment and trend estimates paragraphs below.

Sign convention

In keeping with BPM6 conventions, balance of payments basis credit entries are shown with an implied positive sign and debit items are shown as negative entries. For statistics on an international merchandise trade basis, both imports and exports are shown without sign. References to balance of payments debit items in Key Figures, Key Points, and Analysis and Comments are made without regard to sign. The calculation of percentage changes on balance of payments debit items are made without regard to sign. Percentage change is not applicable if there is a change from surplus to deficit or vice versa.

Seasonally adjusted and trend estimates

The estimates of international trade in goods and services on a balance of payments basis are seasonally adjusted, however the merchandise exports and imports statistics on an international merchandise trade basis are not. Monthly 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 month. These irregular influences may reflect both random economic events and difficulties of statistical recording.

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 months. 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 month as the estimates of seasonal factors are improved.

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, which 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 of each August issue of this publication with the majority of directly seasonally adjusted trade in goods and services time series using an ARIMA model.

The month-to-month 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 13-term Henderson moving average to the seasonally adjusted series. The 13-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 months to be produced, it does result in revisions to the estimates for the most recent six months 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.

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

Economic territory

In accordance with BPM6 definitions, Australia's economic territory, on a balance of payments 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
     

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 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.

Commodity breakdown of goods

For details of the classifications used to present goods exports (credits) and imports (debits) on a balance of payments basis, see tables 6.6 and 6.7 in commodity classification of chapter 6, respectively, in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1998 (cat. no. 5331.0).

The international merchandise trade statistics shown in tables 12 and 13 are classified by the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC). Imports and exports of goods at a more detailed level are available from the time series spreadsheets on the ABS website. 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 the 'Classifications and Standards Update' in the July 2008 issue of this publication.

​​​​​​​Monthly services series

Monthly indicators for many of the services components that are only surveyed quarterly are not available. Monthly estimates for the freight and other transportation components of services credits in table 9 are derived by dividing the quarterly estimate by three. Freight debits are derived directly from imports data for the reference month as a difference between total merchandise Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) and Free on Board (FOB), adjusted to reflect timing and processing adjustments. For freight credits and other transportation credits and debits, estimates are derived by extrapolating the last quarter's data by an average of movements for the same quarter over the four previous years, and then dividing the estimate by three. Similarly, other services estimates are derived by extrapolating the last quarter's data by an average of movements for the same quarter over the previous four years, and then dividing the estimate by three, noting estimates can be adjusted if additional information is available.

Confidentiality of merchandise trade statistics

The release of statistics for certain merchandise 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, state and commodity levels, and other details only available on request such as Australian ports. For information on the confidentiality restrictions applied to the merchandise trade 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 state total and country total (i.e. these totals show the correct level of trade). From June 2013 these confidential data are not added back. Instead the confidential data are published as 'No country details' in the country totals and 'State of origin not available' or 'State not available for publication' in the state totals. Therefore, country and state totals from June 2013 may not represent the actual amount of trade in each country/state 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 state total and country total (i.e. these totals show the correct level of trade). From September 2008 these confidential data are not added back. Instead the confidential data are published as 'No country details' in the country totals and 'State of destination not available' or 'State not available for publication' in the state totals. Therefore, country and state totals from September 2008 may not represent the actual amount of trade in each country/state but only the trade in commodities without a 'No commodity details' or 'No value details' restriction.

Tourism related services

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).

Services by state and by partner country

Annual services data by state, by country and detailed services are released twice yearly. Refer to Trade in Services data cubes under time series data for details.

Services credits are classified by the state of provision, while services debits are classified by the state of consumption. The state allocations for transportation, travel, postal and courier, and telecommunication services are based on a number of indicators including merchandise trade statistics by state, overseas passenger arrivals and departures by state of clearance and data provided by Home Affairs. The allocation for other services (about 25% of all trade in services) is primarily based on the location of the business reporting the information, which serves as a proxy for the state of provision/consumption of that service. The data should be used with care but are considered suitable for analysis over time.

A comprehensive explanation of the data sources used and the methodology applied in the compilation of partner country statistics is provided in Chapter 17 of Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1998 (cat. no. 5331.0). Approximately 5% of total services credits and debits are either confidential, or unable to be allocated to individual countries.

ABS data available

More detailed balance of payments and international merchandise trade data, including forward seasonal factors are available as time series spreadsheets or data cubes from 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.

Rounding

    Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals. Percentage movements are calculated from data at the level of precision presented in this publication (i.e. $m) except for international merchandise trade tables.

    Appendix - related articles

    Show all

    ArticleSource(a)Issue / Release
    Investment  
     Economic Activity of Foreign Owned Businesses in Australia, 2014-15
    5494.0
    2018
     Foreign currency exposure
    5308.0
    Mar qtr 2017
     Foreign ownership of equity
    5302.0
    Sep qtr 2007
     Kangaroo bonds
    1301.0
    2006
     Gross external debt
    5302.0
    Sep qtr 2003
    Balance of payments  
     Quarterly state data on a balance of payments basis
    5302.0
    Dec qtr 2014
     International comparison of balance of payments statistics
    5363.0
    1998-99
    Merchandise trade  
     Preliminary international trade in goods
    5368.0.55.024
    Mar 2020
     Export and Import Invoice Currencies
    5368.0
    Oct 2016
     100 years of international trade statistics
    5368.0
    Oct 2007
     New methodology for deriving counts of Australian exports
    5368.0
    Feb 2006
     Australia's Importers, 2003-04
    5368.0
    Nov 2004
     Australia's Exporters, 2003-04
    5368.0
    Oct 2004
     Foreign ownership of Australian exporters and importers, 2002-03
    5496.0.55.001
    Jun 2004
     Australia's trade with the USA
    5368.0
    Mar 2004
     Major commodities traded by Australia, 1991 to 2000
    5422.0
    Dec qtr 2000
    Trade in services  
     International travel services time series
    5368.0
    May 2020
     ABS International Tourism Estimates
    5302.0
    Dec 2011
     Australian outward finance and insurance foreign affiliate trade, 2009-10
    5485.0
    Jun 2011
     International trade in services by partner country, 2006, preliminary
    5368.0
    Dec 2006
     Changes to International trade in services statistics, August 2006
    5368.0
    Aug 2006
     Changes to International trade in services travel statistics
    5368.0
    Aug 2005
    Finance  
     Impact of the farm season on Australian production in 2002-03 and 2003-04
    1301.0
    2005
     Recent trends in construction and first home buyers finance
    5609.0
    Mar 2002
     Household sector data in the financial accounts
    5232.0
    Mar qtr 2002
    Technical information  
     Discussion Paper: Proposed Changes to Statistical Codes in the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification, 2017
    5368.0.55.022
    July 2016
     A view into United States dollar exposure
    5302.0
    Dec qtr 2015
     A Country Case Study - China
    5302.0
    Jun qtr 2015
     Outcomes of the Review of International Accounts Statistical Outputs
    5302.0
    Jun qtr 2015
     Technical note - Low Value Threshold update
    5368.0
    Aug 2014
     Technical note - Improvements in nominee estimates
    5302.0
    Jun qtr 2014
     Revision to correspondences to AHECC and Customs Tariff, Aug 2014
    5368.0.55.021
    Aug 2014
     Technical note - Low Value Threshold
    5368.0
    Aug 2013
     Proposed Implementation of the New International Standard for International Merchandise Trade Statistics, 2013
    5368.0.55.020
    Aug 2013
     Amendments to Schedule 4 of Customs Tariff, March 2013
    5368.0.55.019
    Mar 2013
     Experimental Statistics on International Shipping Container Movements, 2009-10
    5368.0.55.018
    Sep 2011
     Implementation of new international statistical standards in ABS National and International Accounts, September 2009
    5310.0.55.002
    Oct 2009
     Impact of revised international standards on monthly International Trade in Goods and Services, August 2009
    5368.0.55.014
    Oct 2009
     Estimation of Workers' Remittances based on Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, Sixth Edition, September 2009
    5302.0.55.003
    Aug 2009
     Revisions to international standards in quarterly Balance of Payments and International Investment Position statistics from September 2009, 2009
    5302.0.55.002
    Jul 2009
     Changes to International Trade in Goods Statistics - Countries and Ports, July 2009
    5368.0.55.013
    Jul 2009
     Revisions to international standards in monthly international trade in goods and services statistics from August 2009, 2009
    5368.0.55.012
    Jun 2009
     Changes to International Trade in Goods Industry Statistics, July 2009
    5368.0.55.011
    Dec 2008
     Technical note 1 - Income on debt
    5302.0
    Jun qtr 2008
     Technical note 2 - Use of CDI data
    5302.0
    Jun qtr 2008
     Impact of introducing Revision 4 of the Standard International Trade Classification, 2008
    5368.0.55.010
    May 2008
     Changes to international trade statistics July 2008, 2007 to 2008
    5368.0.55.009
    Jan 2008
     Introduction of revised international standards in ABS economic statistics in 2009, 2007
    5310.0.55.001
    Sep 2007
     Changes on 1 January 2007 to Statistical Codes in the AHECC and the Customs Tariff, 2007
    1233.0.55.001
    Nov 2006
     ABS implementation in January 2007 of revisions to international trade classifications, 2007
    5368.0.55.005
    Jun 2006
     Revised treatment of Goods for Processing in Merchandise Trade and Balance of Payments Statistics
    5368.0
    May 2006
     Impact of Customs and ABS changes on import statistics from October 2005
    5439.0
    Oct 2005
     ABS management of the impact of the implementation of the imports component of the New Customs System
    5439.0
    Aug 2005
     Changes to country and port classifications
    5368.0
    May 2003
     Implementation of New Customs Systems
    5368.0
    Aug 2004
     The effect of customs changes on export statistics
    5422.0
    Jun qtr 2002
     Data confidentiality
    5422.0
    Dec qtr 1999
    a. On the ABS website home page, enter the catalogue number in the search bar and select the specified catalogue number and issue. Note: in some instances, a particular issue of the publication can be found in the Past & Future Releases page of the catalogue.
     

    Quality declaration - summary

    Institutional environment

    Statistics on Australia's international trade in goods and services are produced using a combination of data collected directly by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Data such as exports and imports statistics are collected using administrative by-product information collected from the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs).

    Please refer to ABS Institutional Environment for more information about the institutional environment of the ABS, including legislative obligations, financing and governance arrangements and mechanisms for security of ABS operations.

    Relevance

    In the ABS, the monthly International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) presents exports (credits) and imports (debits) statistics on a balance of payments (change of ownership) basis. These statistics are presented in original, seasonally adjusted and trend terms. The monthly publication also incorporates exports and imports on an international merchandise trade basis.

    The monthly goods and services credits and debits series contribute to quarterly statistics on Australia's balance of payments and international investment position. Services data are only compiled on a balance of payments basis. The main sources for services data are the quarterly Survey of International Trade in Services and administrative data such as passenger cards from Home Affairs. For more details please refer to Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0).

    International merchandise trade statistics record goods that add to or subtract from the stock of material resources of Australia by entering (imports) or leaving (exports) the country on a permanent basis. Australia conforms to the United Nations (UN) recommendations for the compilation of international merchandise trade statistics as set out in the UN publication International Merchandise Trade Statistics, Concepts and Definitions, Statistical Papers, Series M, No. 52, Rev. 3, 2010 (IMTS Rev. 3). International merchandise trade statistics are compiled from customs declarations submitted by exporters and importers or their agents to Home Affairs. The international merchandise trade statistics may be adjusted for classification, coverage or timing to convert them to a balance of payments basis.

    The Standard International Trade Classification, Revision 4 (SITC Rev. 4) is the main classification used to analyse international merchandise trade statistics. Other classifications used include the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) (cat. no. 1233.0) (exports), the Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification (Customs Tariff) (imports), Broad Economic Categories (BEC) and the Balance of Payments Broad Economic Categories (BoPBEC). For balance of payments data, the SITC Rev. 4, BoPBEC and the Balance of Payments Commodity of Export (BoPCE) classifications are used.

    More detail on the underlying concepts and structure of international trade in goods and services and the sources, methods and terms used in compiling estimates are presented in:

    Timeliness

      The monthly International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0) publication is released 21 working days after the end of each reference month. In general, source data used in the compilation of international merchandise trade data and balance of payments statistics are timely. Goods data are collected on a monthly basis. The collection of services data is more varied due to the wider number of data sources used to compile trade in services statistics.

      The ABS uses several estimation methods to account for the less timely source data. Extrapolation methods are used to project particular series forward until survey or administrative results are available. Similarly, when data sources or data models provide data on a less frequent basis than the periodicity of compilation, data are interpolated between periods to obtain sufficiently frequent estimates.

      Accuracy

      The ABS uses a variety of methods to routinely assess the information from surveys and administrative data. Sound data collection and methodological systems, conformity to international standard frameworks and the use of analytical tools all contribute to high quality outputs. Nevertheless, the data may not be accurate for a number of reasons. Sampling errors occur when estimates are derived from a sample survey and the whole population is not enumerated. Estimation methods are applied to incomplete data. Extrapolation methods are used to project particular series forward until survey or administrative results become available and for data provided on an irregular basis. Data confrontation studies are used to compare and reconcile data items from different collections on an enterprise basis if possible. The ABS ensures that surveys are designed, tested and evaluated to a high standard. Data based on administrative data sources are subject to classification, processing, coverage and timing adjustments and modelling where required. The financial press is regularly monitored for large international transactions.

      The general policy adopted in relation to revisions is to incorporate more accurate estimates into the data as they become available. To minimise disruption to the historical time series:

      • revisions to goods and services credits and debits affecting periods prior to the previous financial year incorporated in the August issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0)
      • revisions to international merchandise trade statistics are generally only applied to the six months preceding the current month.
         

      For further information please refer to International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5489.0) and Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5331.0).

      Coherence

      Statistics on Australia's international trade in goods and services are compiled and presented in accordance with international standards. The main standards include:

      Modifications and extensions take into account domestic user requirements for additional details and alternative views of the data. Where possible, data are validated against independent sources both within the ABS and externally. For example, the media is monitored for large transactions in activities in exports and imports of goods and services and changes in commodity prices. The ABS provides aggregated statistics (by partner country where possible) to international organisations including the IMF and the OECD, who reconcile information from all countries.

      The ABS makes available historical quarterly time series for its international accounts dating back to 1959. Key monthly time series date back to 1971 for balance of payments data, 1978 for exchange rates and 1988 for international merchandise trade data. When changes in source data, methodology or statistical techniques are introduced, historical time series are revised back as far as reasonably possible.

      Interpretability

      This publication presents data on goods and services credits and debits, to be used in the current account of the balance of payments. Gross credits and debits series for goods and services are presented distinct from each other. Time series data, in current prices, are provided in original, seasonally adjusted and trend terms.

      International merchandise trade statistics provide detailed commodity statistics according to several classifications. Time series data are presented in original terms only.

      For more information on seasonal adjustment and trend estimation, please refer to the Information Paper: A Guide to Interpreting Time Series - Monitoring Trends (cat. no. 1349.0).

      The Topic page of this publication provides advice on any changes which may be occurring. Also, if major changes are anticipated to any of the classifications, information papers associated with the publication are released in advance to advise the change and implementation plans.

      The International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5489.0) and Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 5331.0) provide users with detailed information on these accounts. They describe the conceptual framework underlying the statistics, classification of data items, presentations and publications. Information is also presented on data sources, compilation methodologies, data quality, relationships with national accounts and emerging issues.

      Accessibility

      Data are available to users free of charge from the ABS website. This includes time series and data cubes for major data series. The ABS website contains analysis of the latest data with supporting graphs and charts.

      International trade in goods and services statistics are published monthly. Tables are available in spreadsheet format, many with data series beginning in July 1971. More detailed data are available on request as a 'user pays' service which can be tailored to suit individual requirements. This service can be accessed 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.

      There are a range of information papers, notes, publications and feature articles that provide information on a number of data quality issues. These include changes to the classifications, systems, concepts, standards or methodology, major data revisions and changes in data dissemination practices. The purpose of this information is to supplement and update the concepts, sources and methods.

      Abbreviations

      Show all

      $bbillion (thousand million) dollars
      $mmillion dollars
      ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
      ADPautomatic data processing
      AHECCAustralian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification
      ANZSICAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
      APECAsia Pacific Economic Co-operation
      ARIMAautoregressive integrated moving average
      ASEANAssociation of South-East Asian Nations
      BECClassification by Broad Economic Categories
      BoPBECBalance of Payments Broad Economic Categories
      BoPCEBalance of Payments Commodities for Exports
      BPM6Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, Sixth Edition
      c.i.f.cost, insurance and freight
      EBOPSExtended Balance of Payments Services Classification
      f.o.b.free on board
      n.e.s.not elsewhere specified
      n.i.e.not included elsewhere
      OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
      RBAReserve Bank of Australia
      SARSpecial Administrative Region
      SITCStandard International Trade Classification
      TWItrade-weighted index