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Data sources

International Trade in Services; Concepts, Sources and Methods
Reference period
December 2021
Released
9/12/2021
Next release Unknown
First release

A wide range of data sources are used to compile international trade in services statistics, including:

  • the ABS Survey of International Trade in Services (SITS);
  • ABS international merchandise trade (trade in goods) statistics, in turn compiled from customs records;
  • the ABS Survey of International Investment (SII);
  • the ABS Overseas Arrivals and Departures (OADs); and
  • data from other government organisations and administrative data sources.

These data sources are integrated in economic models to compile the official statistics.

For example, for travel services, the measurement concept is simply the number of travellers multiplied by their spend (while overseas). Despite this straightforward concept, over eight data sources are used to contribute to travel service estimates. Each dataset has its own reference period(s), scope, revisions, quality and context. Statistical models are required to interpolate, nowcast, concord, and combine these discrete input data to compile statistics.

Additionally, there are no data sources for many service categories that are available prior to publication, therefore data for the most recent statistical reference periods must be nowcast.
For example, there are no monthly data sources for Transport available prior to publication. Quarterly data sources for Transport services must be modelled to produce monthly indicators.

Monthly estimates should be interpreted with caution. See the Quality section for more information. 

Key data sources

Table 1 provides an overview of the key data sources for each service type. The reference period (frequency) and lag to the statistical reference period is listed for each source.

Where there are no data sources for service categories that are available prior to publication, data for the most recent statistical reference periods must be nowcast. 

Table 1: Key data sources for international trade in services statistics
Service categoryKey data sourcesFrequency of input dataLag to statistical reference period
Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by othersABS: International Trade in GoodsMonthly1 Month
Maintenance and repair n.i.e.ABS: International Trade in GoodsMonthlyUp to 1 month
Transport servicesABS: International Trade in GoodsQuarterly1 Quarter
ABS: Survey of International Trade in ServicesMonthly1 Month
ABS: Overseas Arrivals and DeparturesMonthly1 Month
Tourism Research Australia: International and National Visitor SurveysQuarterly1 Quarter
BITRE: Airline dataQuarterly1 Quarter
Travel servicesABS: Overseas Arrivals and DeparturesMonthly1 Month
ABS: Survey of International Trade in ServicesQuarterly1 Quarter
Tourism Research Australia: International and National Visitor SurveysQuarterly1 Quarter
Department of Home Affairs: student visa numbersMonthlyNo lag
Department of Education, Skills and Employment: Student feesQuarterly1 Quarter
ConstructionABS: Survey of International Trade in ServicesQuarterly1 Quarter
Insurance and pension servicesABS: International Trade in GoodsMonthly1 Month
ABS: Financial AccountQuarterly1 Quarter
APRA: Insurance, reinsurance and superannuationVariousUp to 3 years
ATO: Net foreign employment incomeAnnual20 months
RBA: Foreign exchange ratesQuarterlyNo lag
Financial servicesABS: Survey of International Trade in ServicesQuarterly1 Quarter
ABS: Survey of International InvestmentQuarterly1 Quarter
Charges for the use of intellectual property n.i.eABS: Survey of International Trade in ServicesQuarterly1 Quarter
Telecommunication, computer and information servicesABS: Survey of International Trade in ServicesQuarterly1 Quarter
Other business servicesABS: Survey of International Trade in ServicesQuarterly1 Quarter
Personal, cultural and recreation servicesABS: Survey of International Trade in ServicesQuarterly1 Quarter
Department of Education, Skills and Employment: Student feesQuarterly1 Quarter
Government goods and services n.i.e.ABS: Overseas Arrivals and DeparturesQuarterly1 Quarter
Various Commonwealth, State and Territory government data sourcesVariousVarious

 

Survey of International Trade in Services (SITS)

The ABS Survey of International Trade in Services (SITS) is a quarterly survey of Australian businesses who engage, or are likely (in the near future) to engage, in trade in service activities, royalties or licence fees.

The SITS was developed to collect data on service activities which have no alternate data source.  The Survey is designed to capture robust estimates at the national level. As a result, the quality of estimates decreases with increasing geography or service level detail. 

As the SITS is a sampled survey only part of the total service trading population is approached for response each quarter. Respondent data is then ‘expanded’ or ‘weighted’ to make inferences about the total population. The ABS samples and censuses page provides more information on sample surveys.

The SITS is mandatory and is collected under the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

There is no comprehensive source or list to identify enterprises that engage in international trade in services. The ABS Australian Business Register, Australian Tax Office records (ATO), other ABS surveys and environmental scanning are used to identify enterprises that may be in scope.

Information collected from services traders in the SITS also informs the Balance of Payments and International Investment datasets.