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International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia

Statistics about international trade in goods and services, on a balance of payments and international trade basis

Reference period
April 2021
Released
3/06/2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus increased $2,234m to $8,028m in April. 
  • Goods and services credits (exports) rose $1,170m (3%) to $39,772m.
  • Goods and services debits (imports) fell $1,064m (3%) to $31,743m.

Main features

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Key Figures, Seasonally Adjusted
  Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services7 7125 7948 0282 234na
 Credits (Exports of goods & services)39 09938 60239 7721 1703
 Debits (Imports of goods & services)-31 387-32 807-31 743-1 064- 3

na not applicable 

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COVID-19

Suspension of trend estimates

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in international trade activity. In the short term, this measurement will be significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent changes to regular patterns in international trade resulting from it. If the trend estimates in this publication were to be calculated without fully accounting for this unusual event they would provide a misleading view of underlying international trade activity.

It may be some time before the underlying trend in international trade activity can be accurately estimated. The trend series has therefore been suspended from March 2019 and will be reinstated when more certainty emerges.

Seasonal adjustment and COVID-19

International Accounts uses the concurrent seasonal adjustment method, meaning that seasonal factors are re-estimated each time new data becomes available. If not appropriately accounted for, unusual events such as COVID-19 can distort estimates calculated using this method. From March 2020, seasonal factors for series that have been notably impacted by COVID-19 will be calculated using data up to and including February 2020, then projected from March 2020 onwards. This approach, known as the forward factor method, ensures that seasonal factors are not distorted by COVID-19 impacts.

The ABS has advised users that it moved to using forward factors for seasonal analysis of a number of series, including Travel Services. Current ABS (and international) practice requires at least three years of data to assess whether a change in seasonal pattern has occurred. Should COVID-19 result in a long-term change to the seasonal pattern then revisions to these series may occur in the future. The ABS will consult with users on any future methods changes to seasonal adjustment and potential revisions. The Feature Article International Travel Services time series outlines the matter in greater detail.

Cessation of International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia

The release of preliminary data on Australia's international trade in goods on an original, current price, merchandise trade basis,  will be discontinued with the June 2021 release, to be published on 22 July 2021. For more information, see Changes to ABS statistical work program. International merchandise trade data will continue to be available monthly in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia.

Balance on goods and services

In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $8,028m in April 2021, an increase of $2,234m on the surplus in March 2021.

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Balance on goods and services(a), seasonally adjusted
   Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services7 7125 7948 0282 234na
 Total goods and services credits39 09938 60239 7721 1703
  Total goods credits34 11033 71634 8541 1383
  Total services credits4 9894 8864 917311
 Total goods and services debits-31 387-32 807-31 743-1 064- 3
  Total goods debits-27 261-28 621-27 489-1 132- 4
  Total services debits-4 126-4 187-4 25467 2

na not applicable
(a) For sign conventions, see the Explanatory notes.

Goods and services credits (exports), seasonally adjusted

Goods credits

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

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Goods credits, seasonally adjusted
 Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Total goods credits34 11033 71634 8541 1383
 General merchandise31 21131 52532 9981 4735
  Rural goods4 1824 1604 3201604
  Non-rural goods27 02927 36528 6781 3135
 Net exports of goods under merchanting(a)717180913
 Non-monetary gold(a)2 8282 1201 776- 344- 16

(a) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Rural goods

Rural goods rose $160m, driven by cereal grains and cereal preparations. 

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Rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Rural goods4 1824 1604 3201604
 Meat and meat preparations1 0801 1461 210646
 Cereal grains and cereal preparations1 1808469318510
 Wool and sheepskins211228249219
 Other rural(a)1 7121 9411 930- 11- 1

(a) For all time periods, estimates for sugar, sugar preparations and honey are included in Other non-rural.

Non-rural goods

Non-rural goods rose $1,313m, driven by coal, coke and briquettes. 

 

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Non-rural goods, seasonally adjusted
  Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Non-rural goods27 02927 36528 6781 3135
 Metal ores and minerals15 17115 54915 8382892
 Coal, coke and briquettes3 3773 0153 52050517
 Other mineral fuels3 5093 6133 8282156
 Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)1 0651 0291 14611711
 Machinery833915935202
 Transport equipment312309336279
 Other manufactures1 6411 7951 9531589
 Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(a)929968944- 24- 2
 Goods procured in ports by carriers(b)19317317853

(a) For all time periods, estimates for sugar, sugar preparations and honey are included in Other non-rural. 
(b) In using these seasonally adjusted series, care should be exercised because of the difficulties associated with reliably estimating the seasonal pattern.

For price and volume details, see the Selected commodities information available in the supplementary-information section.

Services credits

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

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Services credits, seasonally adjusted
 Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Total services credits4 9894 8864 917311
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)222--
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)555--
 Transport310311331206
  Passenger(b)2223211 050
  Freight(c)192019- 1- 5
  Other162162160- 2- 1
  Postal and courier services(d)12612712922
 Travel2 1372 0202 115955
 Other services2 5362 5482 463- 85- 3
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services credits(e)2 1392 0222 1391176

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 
(a) This component is not seasonally adjusted. 
(b) Passenger transportation services includes agency fees and commissions for air transport. 
(c) In using these seasonally adjusted series, care should be exercised because of the difficulties associated with reliably estimating the seasonal pattern. 
(d) Postal and courier services includes indirect commissions for sea transport. 
(e) For a more detailed explanation of tourism related services, see the Explanatory notes. 

Goods and services debits (imports), seasonally adjusted

Goods debits

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

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Goods debits (imports) (a), seasonally adjusted
 Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Total goods debits-27 261-28 621-27 489-1 132- 4
 General merchandise debits-26 809-27 640-26 963- 677- 2
  Consumption goods-9 904-10 061-9 594- 467- 5
  Capital goods-6 569-6 871-6 536- 335- 5
  Intermediate and other merchandise goods-10 336-10 708-10 8321241
 Non-monetary gold(b)- 452- 981- 526- 455- 46

(a) For sign conventions, see the Explanatory notes.
(b) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Consumption goods

Consumption goods fell $467m, led by textiles, clothing and footwear.

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Consumption goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Consumption goods-9 904-10 061-9 594- 467- 5
 Food and beverages, mainly for consumption-1 454-1 460-1 379- 81- 6
 Household electrical items- 664- 738- 587- 151- 20
 Non-industrial transport equipment-2 372-2 281-2 53825711
 Textiles, clothing and footwear-1 646-1 876-1 561- 315- 17
 Toys, books and leisure goods- 716- 708- 623- 85- 12
 Consumption goods n.e.s.-3 053-2 997-2 906- 91- 3

(a) For sign conventions, see the Explanatory notes.

Capital goods

Capital goods fell $335m, driven by civil aircraft and confidentialised items. 

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Capital goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Capital goods-6 569-6 871-6 536-335-5
 Machinery and industrial equipment-2 371-2 367-2 309-58-2
 ADP equipment-1 033-923-9263-
 Telecommunications equipment-1 235-1 070-1 120505
 Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(b)(c)-244-275-115-160-58
 Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-867-1 319-1 213-106-8
 Capital goods n.e.s.(d)-820-918-854-64-7

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

(a) For sign conventions, see the Explanatory notes.
(b) From July 2008, commodities subject to a 'no commodity details' or 'no value details' restriction are included in Civil aircraft and confidentialised items. For earlier periods, commodities subject to a 'no commodity details' or 'no value details' restriction are included in Other merchandise goods.
(c) This component is not seasonally adjusted.
(d) In using these seasonally adjusted series, care should be exercised because of the difficulties associated with reliably estimating the seasonal pattern.

Intermediate and other merchandise goods

Intermediate and other merchandise goods rose $124m led by fuels and lubricants.

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Intermediate and other merchandise goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Intermediate and other merchandise goods-10 336-10 708-10 8321241
 Food and beverages, mainly for industry-183-184-178-6-3
 Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.(b)-118-157-1822516
 Fuels and lubricants-2 289-2 453-2 71125811
 Parts for transport equipment-1 237-1 174-1 124-50-4
 Parts for ADP equipment-69-83-73-10-12
 Other parts for capital goods-1 632-1 637-1 600-37-2
 Organic and inorganic chemicals-327-310-3111-
 Paper and paperboard-181-212-176-36-17
 Textile yarn and fabrics-147-143-138-5-3
 Iron and steel-249-329-272-57-17
 Plastics-407-440-415-25-6
 Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.-3 460-3 534-3 565311
 Other merchandise goods(c)-34-49-833469
 Goods procured in ports by carriers-5-4-4--

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 
(a) For sign conventions, see the Explanatory Notes.
(b) In using these seasonally adjusted series, care should be exercised because of the difficulties associated with reliably estimating the seasonal pattern.
(c) From July 2008, commodities subject to a 'no commodity details' or 'no value details' restriction are included in Civil aircraft and confidentialised items. For earlier periods, commodities subject to a 'no commodity details' or 'no value details' restriction are included in Other merchandise goods.

Services debits

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

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Services debits(a), seasonally adjusted
 Feb-21 ($m)Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 ($m)Mar-21 to Apr-21 (%)
Total services debits-4 126-4 187-4 254672
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)- 29- 36- 34- 2- 6
 Transport-1 238-1 255-1 300454
  Passenger(c)- 60- 60- 1064677
  Freight-1 161-1 179-1 1812-
  Other(b)- 8- 8- 6- 2- 25
  Postal and courier services(d)(e)- 9- 8- 8--
 Travel- 54- 55- 782342
 Other services-2 806-2 841-2 841--
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services debits(f)- 113- 114- 1847061

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 
(a) For sign conventions, see the Explanatory Notes. 
(b) This component is not seasonally adjusted. 
(c) Passenger services includes agency fees and commissions for air transport. 
(d) Postal and courier services includes indirect commissions for sea transport. 
(e) In using these seasonally adjusted series, care should be exercised because of the difficulties associated with reliably estimating the seasonal pattern. 
(f) For a more detailed explanation of tourism related services, see the Explanatory notes. 

Supplementary information

Selected commodities

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Selected commodities, quantities (a)
 Nov-20 (%)Dec-20 (%)Jan-21 (%)Feb-21 (%)Mar-21 (%)Apr-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump- 1212- 12- 1020- 8
Iron ore - Fines- 611- 13- 515- 4
Coal - Hard coking- 1134- 21- 1121-
Coal - Semi-soft25- 1216- 3- 1914
Coal - Thermal- 1725- 7- 6- 1514
Gas - LNG- 1- 4-- 515- 1

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 
(a) Data in this table is on a revised international merchandise trade basis and excludes value adjustments applied to balance of payments series.

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Selected commodities, unit values (a)
 Nov-20 (%)Dec-20 (%)Jan-21 (%)Feb-21 (%)Mar-21 (%)Apr-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump-1613- 288
Iron ore - Fines3164- 124
Coal - Hard coking2- 132916- 2
Coal - Semi-soft-- 62938
Coal - Thermal3213852
Gas - LNG17751- 46

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 
(a) Data in this table is on a revised international merchandise trade basis and excludes value adjustments applied to balance of payments series.

Selected commodity movements

On an international merchandise trade basis, in original terms (noting the footnote in the above table), between March 2021 to April 2021 the largest movements recorded for the following selected commodities were:

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Iron ore (lump), movement by country, Mar-21 to Apr-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (lump) - Total movement- 12-- 88
Taiwan- 70- 35- 34- 2
Hong Kong (SAR of China)- 67- 42- 4711
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)- 41- 1- 87
Korea, Republic of (South)114693426
Japan11732724

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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Iron ore (fines), movement by country, Mar-21 to Apr-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (fines) - Total movement- 21-- 44
Singapore- 230- 39- 401
Japan- 50- 10- 2723
Hong Kong (SAR of China)- 27- 6- 71
Korea, Republic of (South)172- 1116
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)2744-3

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 

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Hard coking (high rank) coal, Mar-21 to Apr-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
High rank coal - Total movement- 31- 2-- 2
Japan- 72- 22- 19- 4
Korea, Republic of (South)- 24- 15- 15-
India- 17- 3- 42
Netherlands- 6- 69- 14
Vietnam6086813

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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Semi soft coal, movement by country, Mar-21 to Apr-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Semi soft coal - Total movement10923148
Japan10475675
India108- 1121
Taiwan8261212
Korea, Republic of (South)- 3- 3- 53
Vietnam- 17- 60- 6410
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Thermal Coal, movement by country, Mar-21 to Apr-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Thermal coal - Total movement20316142
India11616713812
Malaysia3071597
Japan193- 36
Taiwan532-
Korea, Republic of (South)- 21- 10- 123

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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Liquid Natural Gas, total movement, Mar-21 to Apr-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) - Total movement1375-16

 

Selected commodities, quantity and unit value analysis - International merchandise trade basis: Original terms

International merchandise trade exports data presented in the above tables are based on information reported by exporters to the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs). For commodities such as iron ore and coal, newly negotiated contract prices are not fully reflected in data first reported to Home Affairs. Final quantity and/or unit price information is updated progressively in international merchandise trade data as exporters revise the information provided to Home Affairs. When additional information for these commodities is available, the ABS may adjust the data to reflect actual transaction values.

Unit values in this publication are presented in Australian dollar terms. Movements in the unit values for some commodities incorporate movements in the United States dollar prices reported to Home Affairs and movements in the Australian dollar to United States dollar exchange rate.

Value adjustments

Goods credits on an international merchandise trade basis

On a merchandise trade basis, adjustments have been applied to iron ore lump and iron ore fines. When actual final transaction prices become available estimates are replaced with these data. For price and volume details, see the Selected commodities section.

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Iron Ore Adjustment, Original Terms
 Oct-20($m)Nov-20($m)Dec-20($m)Jan-21($m)Feb-21($m)Mar-21($m)Apr-21($m)
Iron ore lump-5-10402511580
Iron ore fines-55515-5-135265

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

Goods credits on a balance of payments basis

Coal (in original terms)

On a balance of payments basis, adjustments have been applied to the coal, coke and briquettes component in April (-$125m). To maintain consistency with the March quarter 2021 issue of Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia released on 1 June 2021, previous adjustments have remained for November (-$10m), February ($15m) and March (-$280m) respectively.

In the international merchandise trade series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes rose 13.3% between February 2021 and March 2021 and fell 0.3% between March 2021 and April 2021.

In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes fell 3.9% between February 2021 and March 2021 and fell 4.8% between March 2021 and April 2021.

International merchandise trade exports data presented in this publication are based on information reported by exporters to the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs). At the time of initial reporting to Home Affairs, the final prices at which transactions take place are not known for some commodities. Final quantity and/or unit price information is updated progressively in international merchandise trade data as exporters revise the information provided to Home Affairs.

For commodities such as iron ore and coal, newly negotiated contract prices are not fully reflected in data first reported to Home Affairs. When additional information on quantity and/or unit price for these commodities is available, the ABS may adjust the data to reflect actual transaction values.

Iron ore adjustments are applied on an international merchandise trade basis at the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) level. Coal, coke and briquettes are adjusted on a balance of payments basis in current price, original terms. When actual final transaction prices become available estimates are replaced with these data.

In most instances, transfer of ownership occurs when goods cross the customs frontier. In certain circumstances the change of ownership of large value capital expenditure items can occur prior to the items crossing the customs frontier. The ABS may adjust the relevant balance of payments series to record the timing when transfer of ownership was affected.

Revisions

Since the previous issue of this publication, revisions have been made to align with the data published in the March quarter 2021 issue of Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia, released on 1 June 2021 and Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, released on 2 June 2021. On an international merchandise trade basis, goods exports and imports have been revised back to October 2020.

The following goods component has been revised since the release of the March 2021 issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia.

  • fuel and lubricants component of goods debits, revised back to July 2020. 

Table 17 summarises revisions to goods and services on a balance of payments basis since the last issue of this publication. In original, current price terms, the revisions have decreased the surplus on goods and services for 2020-21 by $847m. 

 

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.
 

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