This is not the latest release View the latest release

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
December 2021
Released
3/02/2022

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus decreased $1,400m to $8,356m in December. 
  • Goods and services credits (exports) rose $360m (1%) to $45,320m driven by a rise in exports of Metal ores and minerals. 
  • Goods and services debits (imports) rose $1,761m (5%) to $36,964m driven by a rise in imports of Non-industrial transport equipment.

Main features

Key Figures, Seasonally Adjusted
  Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21
($m)
Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services10,8769,7568,356- 1,400na
 Credits (Exports of goods & services)43,37544,96045,3203601
 Debits (Imports of goods & services)- 32,499- 35,203- 36,9641,7615

na not applicable

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.

Quality of international trade in services statistics

Monthly International Trade in Services statistics (ITS) are compiled using multiple data sources. These data, compared with the publication reference period, are lagged. The lag in data results in most ITS estimates being nowcast when initially published. In recent times, these estimates have been more volatile, due in part to COVID-19 but also due to services data availability. While the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) make every effort to ensure estimates of monthly ITS are reflective and robust, in the current environment, the ABS recommends monthly services estimates be interpreted and used with caution. The International Trade in Services; Concepts, Source and Methods outlines this in further detail.

Changes to timing of release of International Trade, Supplementary Information, financial year (2020-21) and calendar year (2021)

COVID-19 has impacted the availability and quality of source data used to compile international trade in services estimates. As a result the 2020-2021 and 2021 International Trade, Supplementary Information publications (former cat. Nos. 5368.0.55.003 and 5368.0.55.004) have been delayed. Both publications are expected to be released commencing from June 2022. 

Balance on goods and services

In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $8,356m in December 2021, a decrease of $1,400m on the surplus in November 2021. 

Balance on goods and services(a), seasonally adjusted
    Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services 10,8769,7568,356- 1,400na
 Total goods and services credits 43,37544,96045,3203601
  Total goods credits 38,67140,16540,4562911
  Total services credits 4,7044,7954,863681
 Total goods and services debits - 32,499- 35,203- 36,9641,7615
  Total goods debits - 27,830- 30,268- 32,0041,7366
  Total services debits - 4,669- 4,935- 4,960251

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

Goods and services credits (exports), seasonally adjusted

Goods credits

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

Goods credits, seasonally adjusted
 Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Total goods credits38,67140,16540,4562911
 General merchandise36,34238,16238,127- 35-
  Rural goods5,0245,5335,367- 166- 3
  Non-rural goods31,31832,62932,760131-
 Net exports of goods under merchanting(a)323231- 1- 3
 Non-monetary gold(a)2,2971,9712,29832717

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Rural goods

Rural goods fell $166m (3%), driven by Other rural, which decreased $168m (7%). Exports of colza seeds fell after the high levels witnessed in November 2021. 

 

Rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Rural goods5,0245,5335,367- 166- 3
 Meat and meat preparations1,3321,3481,364161
 Cereal grains and cereal preparations1,4881,5891,565- 24- 2
 Wool and sheepskins288285296114
 Other rural(a)1,9162,3102,142- 168- 7

(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 $131m, driven by Metal ores and minerals, up $1,356m (12%). The rise was offset by a fall in Coal, coke and briquettes, down $1,226m (14%).

 

Non-rural goods, seasonally adjusted
  Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Non-rural goods31,31832,62932,760131-
 Metal ores and minerals(a)11,42511,30212,6581,35612
 Coal, coke and briquettes(a)7,5938,6307,404- 1,226- 14
 Other mineral fuels(a)7,2046,9046,885- 19-
 Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)9351,1581,131- 27- 2
 Machinery847940962222
 Transport equipment303328325- 3- 1
 Other manufactures1,7271,8381,9481106
 Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(b)1,0651,3111,213- 98- 7
 Goods procured in ports by carriers(c)219218234167

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Prior to August 2021, the July 2005 to June 2019 component of this series was seasonally adjusted using seasonal factors derived from a monthly volume series. From August 2021, this component is directly adjusted from July 2005 onward.
(b) For all time periods, estimates for sugar, sugar preparations and honey are included in Other non-rural. 
(c) In using these seasonally adjusted series, care should be exercised because of the difficulties associated with reliably estimating the seasonal pattern.

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

Services credits

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

Services credits, seasonally adjusted
 Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Total services credits4,7044,7954,863681
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)322--
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)4121100
 Transport308319317- 2- 1
  Passenger(b)(c)11111--
  Freight(d)242424--
  Other162162161- 1- 1
  Postal and courier services(e)122122121- 1- 1
 Travel(c)1,5961,6501,715654
 Other services2,7932,8232,8285-
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services credits(f)1,5971,6611,726654

- 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) This component has been seasonally adjusted using the forward factor method since March 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19. 
(d) In using these seasonally adjusted series, care should be exercised because of the difficulties associated with reliably estimating the seasonal pattern. 
(e) Postal and courier services includes indirect commissions for sea transport. 
(f) For a more detailed explanation of tourism related services, see the Explanatory notes. 

Goods and services debits (imports), seasonally adjusted

Goods debits

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

Goods debits (imports) (a), seasonally adjusted
 Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Total goods debits- 27,830- 30,268- 32,0041,7366
 General merchandise debits- 27,468- 29,794- 31,4331,6396
  Consumption goods- 8,618- 9,043- 9,7587158
  Capital goods- 6,617- 7,392- 7,5821903
  Intermediate and other merchandise goods- 12,233- 13,359- 14,0937345
 Non-monetary gold(b)- 362- 474- 5719720

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

Consumption goods

Consumption goods rose $715m (8%), driven by Non-industrial transport equipment, up $459m (26%). 

Consumption goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Consumption goods- 8,618- 9,043- 9,7587158
 Food and beverages, mainly for consumption- 1,281- 1,321- 1,32981
 Household electrical items- 464- 554- 566122
 Non-industrial transport equipment- 1,679- 1,790- 2,24945926
 Textiles, clothing and footwear- 1,713- 1,717- 1,743262
 Toys, books and leisure goods- 628- 639- 7066710
 Consumption goods n.e.s.- 2,853- 3,022- 3,1651435

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

Capital goods

Capital goods rose $190m (3%), driven by Telecommunications equipment, up $163m (14%), offset by a fall in Capital goods n.e.s., down $197m (27%).

Capital goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Capital goods-6,617-7,392-7,5821903
 Machinery and industrial equipment-2,242-2,199-2,235362
 ADP equipment-1,111-1,184-1,277938
 Telecommunications equipment-1,049-1,182-1,34516314
 Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(b)(c)-503-752-784324
 Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-1,086-1,358-1,422645
 Capital goods n.e.s.(d)-625-717-520-197-27

(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 $734m (5%), driven by Fuels and lubricants, up $278m (8%), Processed industrial supplies n.e.s. up $223m (5%) and Organic and inorganic chemicals, up $219m (52%). 

Intermediate and other merchandise goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Intermediate and other merchandise goods-12,233-13,359-14,0937345
 Food and beverages, mainly for industry- 187- 196- 196--
 Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.(b)- 196- 487- 205- 282- 58
 Fuels and lubricants(c)- 3,338- 3,507- 3,7852788
 Parts for transport equipment- 1,154- 1,185- 1,256716
 Parts for ADP equipment- 85- 86- 9045
 Other parts for capital goods- 1,648- 1,732- 1,8501187
 Organic and inorganic chemicals- 353- 424- 64321952
 Paper and paperboard- 200- 206- 220147
 Textile yarn and fabrics- 137- 142- 152107
 Iron and steel- 421- 489- 519306
 Plastics- 451- 472- 5396714
 Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.- 4,027- 4,358- 4,5812235
 Other merchandise goods(e)- 32- 68- 53- 15- 22
 Goods procured in ports by carriers(d)- 4- 5- 5--

- 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) Prior to October 2011, this series was not seasonally adjusted.
(d) Prior to April 2010, this series was not seasonally adjusted.
(e) 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

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

Services debits(a), seasonally adjusted
 Oct-21 ($m)Nov-21 ($m)Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 ($m)Nov-21 to Dec-21 (%)
Total services debits- 4,669- 4,935- 4,960251
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)- 46- 55- 25- 30- 55
 Transport- 1,738- 1,976- 2,017412
  Passenger(c)(b)- 73- 116- 109- 7- 6
  Freight- 1,635- 1,830- 1,878483
  Other(b)- 19- 19- 19--
  Postal and courier services(e)(f)- 11- 11- 1219
 Travel(d)- 84- 102- 1171515
 Other services- 2,801- 2,802- 2,800- 2-
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services debits(g)- 157- 218- 22684

- 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) This component has been seasonally adjusted using the forward factor method since March 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19.
(e) Postal and courier services includes indirect commissions for sea transport. 
(f) In using these seasonally adjusted series, care should be exercised because of the difficulties associated with reliably estimating the seasonal pattern. 
(g) For a more detailed explanation of tourism related services, see the Explanatory notes. 

Supplementary information

Selected commodities

Selected commodities, quantities (a)
 Jul-21 (%)Aug-21 (%)Sep-21 (%)Oct-21 (%)Nov-21 (%)Dec-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump- 11102- 15168
Iron ore - Fines- 846- 2- 615
Coal - Hard coking- 1816- 98- 1010
Coal - Semi-soft- 10211- 6- 5- 13
Coal - Thermal15- 4- 5- 7- 26
Gas - LNG222- 23- 22

(a) Data in this table is on a revised international merchandise trade basis and excludes value adjustments applied to balance of payments series.

Selected commodities, unit values (a)
 Jul-21 (%)Aug-21 (%)Sep-21 (%)Oct-21 (%)Nov-21 (%)Dec-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump1- 20- 27- 8- 148
Iron ore - Fines1- 21- 26- 21- 1416
Coal - Hard coking351820(p)3115(p)- 29(p)
Coal - Semi-soft20151223(p)15(p)- 18(p)
Coal - Thermal151581912(p)- 13(p)
Gas - LNG16891010- 1

p preliminary figure or series subject to revision
(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 November 2021 and December 2021 the largest movements recorded for the following selected commodities were:

Iron ore (lump), movement by country, Nov-21 to Dec-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (lump) - Total movement3861788
Japan20563508
Korea, Republic of (South)7853644
Hong Kong (SAR of China)77---
Taiwan3853474
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)- 33- 2- 42
Iron ore (fines), movement by country, Nov-21 to Dec-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (fines) - Total movement1 664341516
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)1 065271015
Japan20150398
Hong Kong (SAR of China)194---
Korea, Republic of (South)11625-26
Indonesia581 9321 58121
Hard coking (high rank) coal, Nov-21 to Dec-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
High rank coal - Total movement- 819- 2110- 29
India- 274- 2515- 34
Japan- 228- 333- 35
Netherlands- 192- 74- 48- 49
France (includes Andorra and Monaco)- 163- 87- 75-50
Indonesia- 135- 60- 38- 35
Semi soft coal, movement by country, Nov-21 to Dec-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Semi soft coal - Total movement- 373- 28- 13- 18
Japan- 131- 24- 6- 19
Korea, Republic of (South)- 96- 40- 25- 19
Vietnam- 85- 71- 61- 25
India- 68- 25- 22- 4
Taiwan404451-5
Thermal coal, movement by country, Nov-21 to Dec-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Thermal coal - Total movement- 241- 76- 13
Japan- 289- 16- 7- 10
Taiwan- 134- 33- 27- 8
Thailand5592146-22
Vietnam646574-5
Korea, Republic of (South)1743247- 10
Liquid Natural Gas, total movement, Nov-21 to Dec-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) - Total movement7312-1

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

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.

Iron Ore Adjustment, Original Terms
 Jun-21($m)Jul-21($m)Aug-21($m)Sep-21($m)Oct-21($m)Nov-21($m)Dec-21($m)
Iron ore lump0-10-70-902500
Iron ore fines2015-145-24530250

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 September (+$5m), October (+$5m), November (+$55m) and December (+$1,020m) 2021. This adjustment takes into account additional information on the unit value of hard coking, semi-soft and thermal coal exports. All previous adjustments have been removed.

In the international merchandise trade series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes rose 12.3% between October 2021 and November 2021 and fell 20.3% between November 2021 and December 2021.

In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes rose 13.0% between October 2021 and November 2021 and fell 9.6% between November 2021 and December 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

Revisions have been made to incorporate the latest data relating to International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia since the last issue of this publication.

On an international merchandise trade basis, exports and imports of goods have been revised back to June 2021.

On a balance of payments basis, revisions have been applied to:

  • Good exports back to June 2021
  • Good imports back to June 2021
  • Services exports back to October 2021
  • Services imports back to June 2021

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:

  • increased the surplus on goods and services for 2021-22 by $103m.

Changes in this issue

Revisions to seasonal estimates

This issue incorporates revisions to the seasonal series for Transport Passenger credits, Transport Passenger debits and Travel debits following re-analysis of the seasonal factors applied to these series which are currently calculated using the forward factor method to ensure that seasonal factors aren't distorted by COVID-19 impacts.  

From the August 2021 reference month a new benchmarking method was implemented to calculate travel debits. Please see article "Australian System of National Accounts historical revisions" for more details. The ABS has re-analysed and identified changes to the travel debits seasonal pattern.  From December 2021 the seasonal series more accurately reflects the pattern of seasonality resulting from the new methodology, with revisions being applied to the historical seasonal series. There is no change to the published current price original series. 

The full suite of seasonally adjusted and trend estimates of goods and services will be reviewed in the March 2022 issue of this publication following an annual seasonal re-analysis. This re-analysis reviews the seasonal and trading day factors in detail and assesses the appropriateness of any prior corrections.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.

Data downloads

We will be progressively transitioning to releasing Excel files in .XLSX format from 3rd December 2021.

Time series spreadsheets

Data files
Data files