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Exports and imports

Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods
Reference period
2020-21 financial year

10.129    The exports and imports series shown in the national accounts are identical to those provided in the balance of payments statistics. (In the balance of payments, exports are labelled 'credits' and imports 'debits'.) The ABS publication, Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods provides an extensive description of the concepts, sources and methods for exports and imports statistics.

10.130    In any given period, some of the output of an economy may be acquired by non-residents. Such transactions are classified as exports of goods and services. Similarly, some of the goods and services acquired by residents in a particular period may have been produced by non-residents, rather than produced domestically. These transactions are classified as imports of goods and services.

10.131    As with other transactions recorded in the national accounts, exports and imports are recorded at the time the change in ownership of real assets occurs, or when a service is delivered. This time of recording may not coincide with when payments are made, in which case entries for pre- or post-payments will be recorded in the financial account. In some cases (i.e. gifts or grants) goods and services may be exported or imported (and recorded as such in the national accounts) without a settlement ever being required. In these cases, either a current or capital transfer will be recorded in lieu of an actual payment.

10.132    Assets, such as large modulated mining infrastructure, which incur lengthy construction periods, are recorded as progressive change of ownership; that is, the item is recorded as the importing unit takes ownership of the assets under construction as the individual components are complete. This differs from machinery and equipment imports where the change in ownership is deemed to have occurred once the importer has taken delivery of the asset as fully complete. Delivery may occur entirely outside the economic territory of the importer.

10.133    In the various ASNA publications, exports and imports of goods and services are generally shown as a single aggregate. (The main exception is the detailed input and output tables, where exports and imports are broken down by industry of origin or by product group.) In the balance of payments, however, exports and imports are broken down into a number of components. The following shows the main components:

Goods and services — Main components shown in the balance of payments
Exports
GoodsRural goods
 Non-rural goods
 Net exports of goods under merchanting
 Non-monetary gold
ServicesManufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.
 Transportation services
 Travel services
 Other services
Imports
GoodsConsumption goods
 Capital goods
 Intermediate and other merchandise goods
 Non-monetary gold
ServicesManufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.
 Transportation services
 Travel services
 Other services

10.134    The item 'goods' covers transactions involving most movable goods. However, transactions between residents and non-residents in some movable goods are classified as services. The most notable example is goods acquired by travellers, which are classified as travel services.

10.135    Exports and imports of goods are both valued free on board (f.o.b.) at the customs frontier of the exporting country. The f.o.b. price includes the value of distributive services involved in transporting the goods to the customs frontier and in loading the goods onto the carrier. The f.o.b. price does not include distributive services provided in transferring the goods from the customs frontier of the exporting country to the recipient of the goods. If such services are provided on Australia's imports by non-residents they will be recorded as imports of transportation services. If such services are provided by Australian residents on Australia's exports they will be recorded as exports of transportation services.

10.136    The values of exports and imports denominated in foreign currencies are converted into Australian dollars using market rates of exchange. If exporters and importers use derivative instruments to hedge against foreign exchange rate movements, then the cash flows associated with these instruments will be recorded as transactions in derivatives, which are shown in the financial account.