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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
January 2021
Released
4/03/2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus increased $3,009m to $10,142m in January. 
  • Goods and services credits (exports) rose $2,316m (6%) to $39,849m.
  • Goods and services debits (imports) fell $694m (2%) to $29,707m.

Main features

Key figures, seasonally adjusted
  Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services5 7077 13310 1423 009na
 Credits (Exports of goods & services)36 34537 53339 8492 3166
 Debits (Imports of goods & services)-30 638-30 401-29 707-694- 2

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 $10,142m in January 2021, an increase of $3,009m on the surplus in December 2020.

Balance on goods and services(a), seasonally adjusted
   Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services5 7077 13310 1423 009na
 Total goods and services credits36 34537 53339 8492 3166
  Total goods credits31 14932 42734 8922 4658
  Total services credits5 1965 1064 957- 149- 3
 Total goods and services debits-30 638-30 401-29 707- 694-2
  Total goods debits-26 753-26 508-25 796- 712-3
  Total services debits-3 885-3 893-3 91118-

na not applicable
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(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.

Goods credits, seasonally adjusted
 Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Total goods credits31 14932 42734 8922 4658
 General merchandise28 21329 57032 1832 6139
  Rural goods3 4314 2084 200- 8-
  Non-rural goods24 78125 36227 9842 62210
 Net exports of goods under merchanting(a)605852- 6- 10
 Non-monetary gold(a)2 8762 7992 657- 142- 5

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

Rural goods

Rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Rural goods3 4314 2084 200- 8-
 Meat and meat preparations1 1351 1301 104- 26- 2
 Cereal grains and cereal preparations5891 169993- 176- 15
 Wool and sheepskins196232187- 45- 19
 Other rural(a)1 5101 6771 91724014

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

Non-rural goods

Non-rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Non-rural goods24 78125 36227 9842 62210
 Metal ores and minerals13 58114 06016 0541 99414
 Coal, coke and briquettes3 0523 1603 241813
 Other mineral fuels2 9963 1213 3692488
 Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)8918771 02614917
 Machinery1 004882908263
 Transport equipment317321319- 2- 1
 Other manufactures1 7801 8481 881332
 Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(a)(b)1 0359631 048859
 Goods procured in ports by carriers12513013997

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(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

Services credits, seasonally adjusted
 Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Total services credits5 1965 1064 957- 149- 3
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)1----
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)333--
 Transport297293293--
  Passenger(b)433--
  Freight(c)232321- 2- 9
  Other147148147- 1- 1
  Postal and courier services(d)12312012222
 Travel2 6172 4872 245- 242- 10
 Other services2 2782 3232 416934
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services credits(e)2 6222 4902 248- 242- 10

- 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

Goods debits (imports) (a), seasonally adjusted
 Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Total goods debits-26 753-26 508-25 796- 712- 3
 General merchandise debits-26 227-25 928-25 351- 577- 2
  Consumption goods-9 639-9 857-9 527- 330- 3
  Capital goods-7 333-6 546-6 528- 18-
  Intermediate and other merchandise goods-9 255-9 525-9 296- 229- 2
 Non-monetary gold(b)- 526- 580- 445- 135- 23

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) For sign conventions, see the Explanatory notes.
(b) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

 

Consumption goods

Consumption goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Consumption goods-9 639-9 857-9 527- 330- 3
 Food and beverages, mainly for consumption-1 445-1 446-1 427- 19- 1
 Household electrical items- 592- 612- 6776511
 Non-industrial transport equipment-2 106-2 156-2 101- 55- 3
 Textiles, clothing and footwear-1 778-1 793-1 551- 242- 13
 Toys, books and leisure goods- 668- 738- 666- 72- 10
 Consumption goods n.e.s.-3 051-3 111-3 105- 6-

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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

Capital goods

Capital goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Capital goods-7 333-6 546-6 528- 18-
 Machinery and industrial equipment-2 256-2 234-2 123- 111-5
 ADP equipment-961-921-92651
 Telecommunications equipment-1 261-1 308-1 384766
 Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(b)(c)-206-116-1543833
 Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-1 318-1 197-1 136- 61-5
 Capital goods n.e.s.(d)-1 331-771-804334

- 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(a), seasonally adjusted
 Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Intermediate and other merchandise goods-9 255-9 525-9 296- 229-2
 Food and beverages, mainly for industry-167-186-177- 9-5
 Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.(b)-164-163-133- 30-18
 Fuels and lubricants-1 578-1 633-1 94931619
 Parts for transport equipment-1 206-1 152-1 120- 32-3
 Parts for ADP equipment-69-66-61- 5-8
 Other parts for capital goods-1 572-1 590-1 542- 48-3
 Organic and inorganic chemicals-260-310-285- 25-8
 Paper and paperboard-193-203-177- 26-13
 Textile yarn and fabrics-145-154-135- 19-12
 Iron and steel-255-255-218 -37-15
 Plastics-354-415-342 - 73-18
 Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.-3 270-3 365-3 126- 239-7
 Other merchandise goods(c)-18-25-28312
 Goods procured in ports by carriers-5-7-4- 3-43

(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

Services debits(a), seasonally adjusted
 Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 ($m)Dec-20 to Jan-21 (%)
Total services debits-3 885-3 893-3 91118-
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)- 49- 35- 572263
 Transport-1 100-1 110-1 088- 22- 2
  Passenger(c)- 40- 33- 3639
  Freight-1 041-1 056-1 032- 24- 2
  Other(b)- 8- 9- 8- 1- 11
  Postal and courier services(d)(e)- 11- 12- 12--
 Travel- 62- 54- 5736
 Other services-2 674-2 694-2 709151
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services debits(f)- 102- 87- 9367

- 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

Selected commodities, quantities (a)
 Aug-20 (%)Sep-20 (%)Oct-20 (%)Nov-20 (%)Dec-20 (%)Jan-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump- 1- 19- 1213- 13
Iron ore - Fines2-2- 611- 13
Coal - Hard coking-9- 3- 1131- 22
Coal - Semi-soft--- 1525- 1213
Coal - Thermal27- 1817- 1725- 8
Gas - LNG13- 614- 1- 3-

- 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 commodities, unit values (a)
 Aug-20 (%)Sep-20 (%)Oct-20 (%)Nov-20 (%)Dec-20 (%)Jan-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump632-1310
Iron ore - Fines9412136
Coal - Hard coking- 3- 47p2p8p1
Coal - Semi-soft-- 21-p5p-
Coal - Thermal- 71p-2p3p2p13
Gas - LNG- 25- 491689

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 
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 December 2020 to January 2021 the largest movements recorded for the following selected commodities were:

Iron ore (lump), movement by country, Dec-20 to Jan-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (lump) - Total movement- 144- 4- 1310
Korea, Republic of (South)139-8311
Singapore36--- 6
Hong Kong (SAR of China)3044385
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)- 120- 5- 1614
Japan- 199- 48- 42- 11

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Iron ore (fines), movement by country, Dec-20 to Jan-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (fines) - Total movement- 819- 8- 136
Taiwan5477704
Indonesia- 58- 80- 8316
Singapore- 69- 14- 13- 1
Japan- 296- 53- 48- 10
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)- 351- 5- 117

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Hard coking (high rank) coal, Dec-20 to Jan-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
High rank coal - Total movement- 393- 21- 221
France (includes Andorra and Monaco)- 54- 100- 100-
Korea, Republic of (South)- 75- 40- 436
Netherlands- 89- 84- 8615
Japan- 100- 32- 344
India- 108- 15- 16-

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Semi soft coal, movement by country, Dec-20 to Jan-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Semi soft coal - Total movement611213-
India2215131
Taiwan2193882
Vietnam19---
Brazil11744123
Korea, Republic of (South)- 28- 22- 17- 5

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Thermal Coal, movement by country, Dec-20 to Jan-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Thermal coal - Total movement474- 813
Taiwan49392710
Japan223- 15
India2121- 122
Vietnam- 23- 33- 4624
Turkey- 25- 100- 100-

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 

Liquid Natural Gas, total movement, Dec-20 to Jan-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) - Total movement244909

 

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
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Jan-21($m)
Iron ore lump--10-5-305155100
Iron ore fines3020-10-3015410600

Goods credits on a balance of payments basis

Coal (in original terms)

  • a negative adjustment of $165m has been applied to hard coking coal, semi-soft coal and thermal coal in the coal, coke and briquettes component in the balance of payments series for January 2020. This adjustment takes into account additional information on the unit value of hard coking, semi-soft and thermal coal exports. To maintain consistency with the December quarter 2020 issue of Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia released on 2 March 2021, previous adjustments have remained for October (-$5m), November (-$25m) and December (-$260m) respectively.
     

    In the international merchandise trade series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes rose 5.5% between November 2020 and December 2020 and rose 2.8% between December 2020 and January 2021.

    In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes fell 1.4% between November 2020 and December 2020 and rose 8.8% between December 2020 and January 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 December quarter 2020 issue of Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia, released on 2 March 2021 and Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, released on 3 March 2021. On an international merchandise trade basis, goods exports and imports have been revised back to July 2020.

The following component has been revised since the release of the December 2020 issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia:

  • capital goods n.e.s. component of goods debits, revised back to November 2020
     

In original terms the revisions have increased the surplus on goods and services for the twelve months to June 2021 by $573m.

Changes in this issue

Changes to the European Union

From the January 2021 release of this publication, the European Union (EU) country grouping will no longer include the United Kingdom (UK). This change will be reflected across the entire time-series back to January 1988. 

If users wish to calculate the value of the EU including the UK, the value for United Kingdom can be added to the European Union 27 estimates. 

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.
 

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