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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
February 2021
Released
1/04/2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus decreased $2,087m to $7,529m in February. 
  • Goods and services credits (exports) fell $526m (1%) to $38,926m.
  • Goods and services debits (imports) rose $1,563m (5%) to $31,398m.

Main features

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Key figures, seasonally adjusted
  Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services7 5779 6167 529-2 087na
 Credits (Exports of goods & services)38 01739 45238 926- 526- 1
 Debits (Imports of goods & services)-30 440-29 835-31 3981 5635

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 current COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent changes to regular patterns in international trade that will occur during this time. 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 in the time series and will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend in international trade.

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 the 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 the 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.

Balance on goods and services

In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $7,529m in February 2021, a decrease of $2,087m on the surplus in January 2021.

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Balance on goods and services(a), seasonally adjusted
   Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services7 5779 6167 529-2 087na
 Total goods and services credits38 01739 45238 926- 526- 1
  Total goods credits32 64334 29033 906- 384- 1
  Total services credits5 3745 1625 021- 141- 3
 Total goods and services debits-30 440-29 835-31 3981 5635
  Total goods debits-26 359-25 836-27 2471 411 5
  Total services debits-4 081-3 999-4 1501514

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
 Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Total goods credits32 64334 29033 906- 384- 1
 General merchandise29 76931 56331 007- 556- 2
  Rural goods4 0663 9654 2262617
  Non-rural goods25 70327 59726 780- 817- 3
 Net exports of goods under merchanting(a)777171--
 Non-monetary gold(a)2 7972 6562 8281726

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

Rural goods

Rural goods rose $261m, led by exports of cereal grains and cereal preparations. ABARES have reported an 89% annual increase in the harvest of winter crops in their Australian Crop Report: February Edition

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Rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Rural goods4 0663 9654 2262617
 Meat and meat preparations1 1111 0801 101212
 Cereal grains and cereal preparations1 1389881 16918118
 Wool and sheepskins2091792163721
 Other rural(a)1 6081 7191 740211

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

Non-rural goods

Non-rural goods fell $817m, mostly driven by metal ores and minerals, which fell from record high exports in January.

 

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Non-rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Non-rural goods25 70327 59726 780- 817- 3
Metal ores and minerals14 58116 01614 880-1 136- 7
Coal, coke and briquettes3 0613 0903 2811916
Other mineral fuels3 1343 3193 4671484
Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)8949931 12513213
Machinery868888858- 30- 3
Transport equipment31431731921
Other manufactures1 7971 8291 711- 118- 6
Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(a)9221 005954- 51- 5
Goods procured in ports by carriers(b)1321401854532

(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
 Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Total services credits5 3745 1625 021- 141- 3
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)-22--
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)255--
 Transport30630931231
  Passenger(b)1121100
  Freight(c)192020--
  Other16216216421
  Postal and courier services(d)124126126--
 Travel2 5212 3262 145- 181- 8
 Other services2 5452 5212 557361
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services credits(e)2 5222 3272 146- 181- 8

-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
 Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Total goods debits-26 359-25 836-27 2471 4115
 General merchandise debits-25 779-25 391-26 7951 4046
  Consumption goods-9 842-9 620-9 8752553
  Capital goods-6 602-6 517-6 469- 48- 1
  Intermediate and other merchandise goods-9 335-9 254-10 4521 19813
 Non-monetary gold(b)- 580- 445- 45272

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

Consumption goods

Consumption goods rose $255m, led by non-industrial transport equipment.

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Consumption goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Consumption goods-9 842-9 620-9 8752553
 Food and beverages, mainly for consumption-1 447-1 428-1 458302
 Household electrical items- 613- 684- 661- 23- 3
 Non-industrial transport equipment-2 182-2 127-2 34421710
 Textiles, clothing and footwear-1 766-1 600-1 641413
 Toys, books and leisure goods- 729- 674- 716426
 Consumption goods n.e.s.-3 105-3 109-3 054- 55- 2

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

Capital goods

Capital goods fell $48m, led by industrial transport equipment n.e.s.

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Capital goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Capital goods-6,602-6,517-6,469-48-1
 Machinery and industrial equipment-2,252-2,126-2,35322711
 ADP equipment-931-938-1,019819
 Telecommunications equipment-1,301-1,377-1,255-122-9
 Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(b)(c)-168-154-1812718
 Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-1,178-1,106-871-235-21
 Capital goods n.e.s.(d)-773-816-789-27-3

(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 $1,198m led by fuels and lubricants and processed industrial supplies n.e.s. Processed industrial supplies rose as a result of increased fertiliser imports, with ABARES reporting that summer crop planting was "nearly three times" higher than the same period last year.

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Intermediate and other merchandise goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Intermediate and other merchandise goods-9 335-9 254-10 4521,19813
 Food and beverages, mainly for industry-186-176-18374
 Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.(b)-159-130-112-18-14
 Fuels and lubricants-1 430-1 914-2 48256830
 Parts for transport equipment-1 155-1 135-1 2361019
 Parts for ADP equipment-67-61-6658
 Other parts for capital goods-1 596-1 547-1 629825
 Organic and inorganic chemicals-306-290-3223211
 Paper and paperboard-201-178-18132
 Textile yarn and fabrics-151-133-1481511
 Iron and steel-253-220-2432310
 Plastics-424-340-4066619
 Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.-3 374-3 100-3 40530510
 Other merchandise goods(c)-25-28-34621
 Goods procured in ports by carriers-7-1-54400

(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
 Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 ($m)Jan-21 to Feb-21 (%)
Total services debits-4 081-3 999-4 1501514
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)- 35- 57- 29- 28- 49
 Transport-1 185-1 126-1 27715113
  Passenger(c)- 62- 52- 621019
  Freight-1 092-1 057-1 19814113
  Other(b)- 10- 8- 8--
  Postal and courier services(d)(e)- 20- 9- 9--
 Travel- 55- 45- 52716
 Other services-2 806-2 771-2 793221
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services debits(f)- 117- 97- 1131616

- 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)
 Sep-20 (%)Oct-20 (%)Nov-20 (%)Dec-20 (%)Jan-21 (%)Feb-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump- 19- 1212- 13- 13
Iron ore - Fines-2- 611- 13- 5
Coal - Hard coking9- 3- 1134- 21- 12
Coal - Semi-soft-- 1525- 1216- 7
Coal - Thermal- 1817- 1725- 8- 5
Gas - LNG-614-1-40- 5

- 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)
 Sep-20 (%)Oct-20 (%)Nov-20 (%)Dec-20 (%)Jan-21 (%)Feb-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump32- 11511-
Iron ore - Fines413145- 1
Coal - Hard coking- 472- 13225
Coal - Semi-soft- 21-- 6113
Coal - Thermal1- 232138
Gas - LNG-4917762

- 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 January 2021 to February 2021 the largest movements recorded for the following selected commodities were:

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Iron ore (lump), movement by country, Jan-21 to Feb-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (lump) - Total movement- 422- 13- 13-
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)- 385- 16- 15- 1
Korea, Republic of (South)- 124- 43- 4811
Japan542526- 1
Hong Kong (SAR of China)671006918

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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Iron ore (fines) - Total movement
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (fines) - Total movement- 543- 6- 5- 1
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)- 737- 10- 9- 2
Korea, Republic of (South)- 130- 25- 296
Japan602121-
Singapore861923- 3
Hong Kong (SAR of China)20076666

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

 

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Hard coking (high rank) coal, Jan-21 to Feb-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
High rank coal - Total movement1169- 1225
Korea, Republic of (South)1091067716
Netherlands7161645130
France (includes Andorra and Monaco)57---
Turkey- 61- 100- 100-

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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Semi soft coal, movement by country, Jan-21 to Feb-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Semi soft coal - Total movement275- 713
Japan4428189
Vietnam13863835

India

- 22- 13- 2922

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

 

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Thermal Coal, movement by country, Jan-21 to Feb-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Thermal coal - Total movement292- 58
Korea, Republic of (South)74442614
Netherlands41---
Thailand3379106- 13
Japan- 47- 7- 1510
India- 57- 44- 39- 8

- Nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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Liquid Natural Gas, total movement, Jan-21 to Feb-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) - Total movement-96-3-52

 

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
 
 Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Oct-20 ($m)Not-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-20 ($m)Feb-21 ($m)
Iron ore lump505-5555-90
Iron ore fines150540130120150

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  November (-$10m), January (-$10m) and February (-$235m). 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 5.1% between December 2020 and January 2021 and rose 14.3% between January 2021 and February 2021.

In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes fell 4.8% between December 2020 and January 2021 and rose 6.5% between January 2021 and February 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 since the last issue of this publication.

On an international merchandise trade basis, exports and imports of goods have been revised back to August 2020.

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

Goods exports back to June 2020

Goods imports back to July 2020

Services exports back to July 2019

Services imports back to October 2019.

 

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 2019-20 by $19m

Increased the surplus on goods and services for 2020-21 by $1, 714m.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.
 

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