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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
December 2020
Released
4/02/2021
Future releases
  • Next Release 4/03/2021
    International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, January 2021
  • Next Release 1/04/2021
    International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, February 2021
  • Next Release 4/05/2021
    International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, March 2021
  • View all releases

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus increased $1,771m to $6,785m in December. 
  • Goods and services credits (exports) rose $1,010m (3%) to $37,268m.
  • Goods and services debits (imports) fell $761m (2%) to $30,483m.

Main features

Key figures, seasonally adjusted
  Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Balance on goods and services6 5365 0146 7851 771na
 Credits (Exports of goods & services)35 11436 25837 2681 0103
 Debits (Imports of goods & services)-28 578-31 244-30 483-761-2

na not applicable

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COVID-19 in this publication

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 had 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 $6,785m in December 2020, a increase of $1,771m on the surplus in November 2020.

Balance on goods and services(a), seasonally adjusted
   Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Balance on goods and services6 5365 0146 7851 771na
 Total goods and services credits35 11436 25837 2681 0103
  Total goods credits30 01731 06132 1621 1014
  Total services credits5 0975 1975 107-90-2
 Total goods and services debits-28 578-31 244-30 483-761-2
  Total goods debits-24 823-27 368-26 587-781-3
  Total services debits-3 754-3 875-3 896 211

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

Quarterly situation

The sum of seasonally adjusted balances for the three months to December 2020 was a surplus of $18,335m, an increase of $4,806m on the surplus of $13,529m for the three months to September 2020. However, if seasonal factors used in compiling the quarterly balance of payments are applied, the preliminary December quarter 2020 surplus was $17,443m, an increase of $3,794m on the September quarter 2020 surplus of $13,649m.

2020 situation

In original terms, the balance on goods and services for 2020 was a surplus of $72.7b, an increase of $5.2b on the surplus of $67.5b recorded in 2019, resulting from a $63.9b (15%) decrease in goods and services debits and a $58.7b (12%) decrease in goods and services credits.

 

Goods and services credits (exports), seasonally adjusted

Goods credits

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

Goods credits, seasonally adjusted
 Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Total goods credits30 01731 06132 1621 1014
 General merchandise27 97028 12529 3051 1804
  Rural goods3 3783 5054 15164618
  Non-rural goods24 59224 62025 1535332
 Net exports of goods under merchanting(a)606058-2-3
 Non-monetary gold(a)1 9872 8762 799-77-3

(a) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

 

Rural goods

Rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
  Rural goods3 3783 5054 15164618
   Meat and meat preparations1 1381 1381 1435-
   Cereal grains and cereal preparations4446561 14548975
   Wool and sheepskins1822002262613
   Other rural(a)1 6141 5111 6381278

- 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.

 

Non-rural goods

Non-rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Non-rural goods24 59224 62025 1535332
 Metal ores and minerals13 62313 48213 9084263
 Coal, coke and briquettes3 1413 0503 1621124
 Other mineral fuels2 7752 9593 0821234
 Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)938881867-14-2
 Machinery8571 006879-127-13
 Transport equipment36831631931
 Other manufactures1 7521 7731 856835
 Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(a)1 0361 032955-77-7
 Goods procured in ports by carriers(b)10312212532

(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
 Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Total services credits5 0975 1975 107-90-2
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)-1--1-100
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)233--
 Transport298297294-3-1
  Passenger(b)443-1-25
  Freight(c)232323--
  Other14714714811
  Postal and courier services(d)123123120-3-2
 Travel2 5472 6172 487-130-5
 Other services2 2492 2782 323452
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services credits(e)2 5522 6222 490-132-5

- 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 (a), seasonally adjusted
 Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Total goods debits-24 823-27 368-26 587-781-3
 General merchandise debits-24 348-26 842-26 007-835-3
  Consumption goods-9 318-9 626-9 8642382
  Capital goods-6 084-7 920-6 642-1 278-16
  Intermediate and other merchandise goods-8 947-9 296-9 5012052
  Non-monetary gold(b)-475-526-5805410

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

 

Consumption goods

Consumption goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Consumption goods-9 318-9 626-9 8642382
 Food and beverages, mainly for consumption-1 384-1 444-1 4484-
 Household electrical items-570-584-606224
 Non-industrial transport equipment-1 966-2 103-2 158553
 Textiles, clothing and footwear-1 787-1 784-1 808241
 Toys, books and leisure goods-625-668-7417311
 Consumption goods n.e.s.-2 986-3 042-3 102602

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 
(a) For sign conventions, see the Explanatory notes.

Capital goods

Capital goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Capital goods-6 084-7 920-6 642-1 278-16
 Machinery and industrial equipment-2 087-2 267-2 252-15-1
 ADP equipment-938-961-922-39- 4
 Telecommunications equipment-987-1 247-1 294474
 Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(b)(c)-123-206-116-90-44
 Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-1 103-1 312-1 235-77-6
 Capital goods n.e.s.(d)-846-1 928-823-1 105-57

(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
 Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Intermediate and other merchandise goods-8 947-9 296-9 5012052
 Food and beverages, mainly for industry-161-165-1862113
 Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.-149-164-16732
 Fuels and lubricants-1 589-1 578-1 598201
 Parts for transport equipment-1 092-1 201-1 151-50-4
 Parts for ADP equipment-60 -70-67-3-4
 Other parts for capital goods-1 592-1 575-1 601262
 Organic and inorganic chemicals-273-261-3024116
 Paper and paperboard-179-193-203105
 Textile yarn and fabrics-144-147-15253
 Iron and steel-234-260-260--
 Plastics-320-358-4216318
 Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.-3 129-3 301-3 366652
 Other merchandise goods(b)(c)-22-18- 25739
 Goods procured in ports by carriers-2-4- 2-2-50

- 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.

 

Services debits

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

Services debits(a), seasonally adjusted
 Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 ($m)Nov-20 to Dec-20 (%)
Total services debits-3 754-3 875-3 896211
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)-44-49-35-14-29
 Transport-1 001-1 090-1 113232
  Passenger(c)-35-40-33-7-18
  Freight-947-1 031-1 059283
  Other(b)-8-8-9113
  Postal and courier services(d)(e)-11-11-1219
 Travel-47-62-54-8-13
 Other services-2 663-2 674-2 694201
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services debits(f)-82-102 -87-15-15

- 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 transportation 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)
 Jul-20 (%)Aug-20 (%)Sep-20 (%)Oct-20 (%)Nov-20 (%)Dec-20 (%)
Iron ore - Lump-7-1-19-1211
Iron ore - Fines-111-2-611
Coal - Hard coking-18-8-3-1128
Coal - Semi-soft15---1423-11
Coal - Thermal-1927-1817- 1725
Gas - LNG-13-614--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)
 Jul-20 (%)Aug-20 (%)Sep-20 (%)Oct-20 (%)Nov-20 (%)Dec-20 (%)
Iron ore - Lump-632-110
Iron ore - Fines294128
Coal - Hard coking-5-3-37p2p7
Coal - Semi-soft---11-p8
Coal - Thermal-6-71-p2p5p1
Gas - LNG-12-25-48187

- 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 November 2020 to December 2020 the largest movements recorded for the following selected commodities were:

Iron ore (lump), movement by country, Nov-20 to Dec-20
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (lump) - Total movement567221110
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)446241210
Japan9430199
Hong Kong (SAR of China)69---
Taiwan284986-20
Korea, Republic of (South)-68-37-4514

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Iron ore (fines), movement by country, Nov-20 to Dec-20
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (fines) - Total movement1 59820118
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)1 50525168
Singapore164533810
Japan13036286
Hong Kong (SAR of China)12066641
Korea, Republic of (South)-265-41-447
Hard coking (high rank) coal, Nov-20 to Dec-20
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
High rank coal - Total movement50138287
India268624313
Japan1085455-1
Korea, Republic of (South)85835915
Brazil3097--5
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)-59-70-67-9

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Semi soft coal, movement by country, Nov-20 to Dec-20
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Semi soft coal - Total movement-24-4-118
Taiwan-34-60-57-6
India-13-7-137
Korea, Republic of (South)30321911

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Thermal Coal, movement by country, Nov-20 to Dec-20
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Thermal coal - Total movement28427251
Japan1302526-1
Taiwan587883-3
Korea, Republic of (South)3423175
Thailand32--37

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Liquid Natural Gas, total movement, Nov-20 to Dec-20
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) - Total movement1195-37

 

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-20 ($m)Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Oct-20 ($m)Nov-20 ($m)Dec-20 ($m)
Iron ore lump1040-15-55-5-10300
Iron ore fines--303510101001050

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  October (-$5m), November (-$25m) and December (-$260m). 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 4.7% between October 2020 and November 2020 and rose 5.2% between November 2020 and December 2020.
  • In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes rose 4.0% between October 2020 and November 2020 and fell 1.4% between November 2020 and December 2020.

Capital expenditure (in original terms)

  • capital goods n.e.s. includes an estimate of expenditure on capital goods that have changed ownership but have not yet crossed the customs frontier.

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 June 2020.

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

  • goods exports back to July 2020
  • goods imports back to July 2020
  • services exports back to  October 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 $4m
  • decreased the surplus on goods and services for 2020-21 by $135m.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.
 

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