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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
August 2020
Released
6/10/2020
Future releases
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    Next Release 5/11/2020
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    Next Release 3/12/2020
  • International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia
    Next Release 7/01/2021
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Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus decreased $2,009m to $2,643m in August. 
  • Exports of goods and services fell $1,431m (4%) to $32,638m.
  • Imports of goods and services rose $579m (2%) to $29,996m.

Main features

Key figures
 Jun 2020Jul 2020Aug 2020Jul 2020 to Aug 2020
$m$m$m% change
BALANCE ON GOODS AND SERVICES    
 Trend estimates (a)
na
na
na
na
 Seasonally adjusted
7 551
4 652
2 643
-43
CREDITS (Exports of goods & services)    
 Trend estimates (a)
na
na
na
na
 Seasonally adjusted
35 256
34 069
32 638
-4
DEBITS (Imports of goods & services)    
 Trend estimates (a)
na
na
na
na
 Seasonally adjusted
27 705
29 417
29,996
2
na not available
a. Trend series suspended from March 2019
 
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COVID-19 in this publication

COVID-19 in August 2020

Quality assurance undertaken by the ABS confirmed that COVID-19 did not result in quality impacts to International Trade in Goods and Services statistics for August 2020. For information on the expected economic impacts of COVID-19, please see the ABS Chief Economist Series paper Measuring natural disasters in the Australian economy.

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.

Analysis and comments

Balance on goods and services

Goods and services summary(a), seasonally adjusted
          Change in:
Jun 2020Jul 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020
 $m  $m  $m  $m %
Seasonally adjusted
BALANCE ON GOODS AND SERVICES7,5514,6522,643-2,009-43
CREDITS     
 Total goods and services35,25634,06932,638-1,431-4
  Total goods29,37428,72227,431-1,291-4
   Rural goods(b)3,4942,9403,30636612
   Non-rural goods(b)23,48322,15222,7295773
   Net exports of goods under merchanting(c)361616--
   Non-monetary gold(c)2,3613,6141,380-2,234-62
  Total services5,8825,3475,207-140-3
DEBITS     
 Total goods and services-27,705-29,417-29,996-5792
  Total goods-23,924-25,765-26,299-5342
   Consumption goods-8,228-8,739-9,292-5536
   Capital goods-5,540-6,524-6,076448-7
   Intermediate and other merchandise goods-9,350-9,396-9,719-3233
   Non-monetary gold(c)-806-1,106-1,212-10610
  Total services-3,781-3,652-3,696-441
a. For sign conventions, see the Methodology page.
b. For all time periods, estimates for sugar, sugar preparations and honey are included in Non-rural goods.
c. This component is not seasonally adjusted.  

Exports of goods and services (credits)

A fall of $1,431m (4%) in goods and services exports to $32,638m, seasonally adjusted:

  • A fall of $2,234m (62%) in non-monetary gold
  • A fall of $140m (3%) in services
  • A rise of $577m (3%) in non-rural goods 
  • A rise of $366m (12%) in rural goods
  • Net exports of goods under merchanting remained steady at $16m.
  • Exports of services contributed 16% to total goods and services exports.

    Exports of goods

    Download
    1. Trend series suspended from March 2019
       
    Exports of goods summary, seasonally adjusted
              Change in:
    Jun 2020Jul 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020
     $m  $m  $m  $m %
    Total goods credits29,37428,72227,431-1,291-4
     General merchandise26,97725,09226,0359434
      Rural goods3,4942,9403,30636612
       Meat and meat preparations1,1931,0811,19211110
       Cereal grains and cereal preparations5413293976821
       Wool and sheepskins187194191-3-2
       Other rural(a)1,5731,3351,52619114
      Non-rural goods23,48322,15222,7295773
       Metal ores and minerals(b)11,92811,51111,8983873
       Coal, coke and briquettes(c)3,3072,9033,1742719
       Other mineral fuels(b)(d)3,3182,8982,729-169-6
       Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)91473599826336
       Machinery86085386291
       Transport equipment291275268-7-3
       Other manufactures1,8481,7561,766101
       Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(a)8891,098905-193-18
       Goods procured in ports by carriers(d)12812512832
     Net exports of goods under merchanting(e)361616--
     Non-monetary gold(e)2,3613,6141,380-2,234-62
    a. For all time periods, estimates for sugar, sugar preparations and honey are included in Other non-rural.
    b. From July 2005, this component is seasonally adjusted using seasonal factors derived from a monthly volume series.
    c. From July 1971 to June 2005, only a length-of-month adjustment has been applied to this component. From July 2005, this component is seasonally adjusted using seasonal factors derived from a monthly volume series.
    d. In using these seasonally adjusted series, care should be exercised because of the difficulties associated with reliably estimating the seasonal pattern.
    e. This component is not seasonally adjusted.
     

    Show all

    Rural goods

    A rise of $366m (12%) in rural goods exports to $3,306m, seasonally adjusted.

    Leading the rise were:

    • other rural, up $191m (14%)
    • meat and meat preparations, up $111m (10%).

    Non-rural goods

    A rise of $577m (3%) in non-rural goods exports to $22,729m, seasonally adjusted.

    Leading the rise were:

    • metal ores and minerals, up $387m (3%)
    • coal, coke and briquettes, up $271m (9%)
    • metals (excl. non-monetary gold), up $263m (36%).

    Partly offsetting these rises were:

    • other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages), down $193m (18%)
    • other mineral fuels, down $169m (6%).

    For price and volume details, see the Selected commodities section.

    Net exports of goods under merchanting

    Seasonally adjusted net exports of goods under merchanting remained steady at $16m.

    Non-monetary gold

    A fall of $2,234m (62%) in non-monetary gold exports to $1,380m, seasonally adjusted and original.

    Exports of services

    Download
    1. Trend series suspended from March 2019
       
    Exports of services summary, seasonally adjusted
              Change in:
    Jun 2020Jul 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020
     $m  $m  $m  $m %
    Total services credits5,8825,3475,207-140-3
     Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)-----
     Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)122--
     Transport3243283291-
      Passenger(b)233--
      Freight(c)242524-1-4
      Other156161161--
      Postal and courier services(d)141140140--
     Travel3,1932,6902,517-173-6
     Other services2,3642,3262,359331
    Memorandum item     
     Tourism related services credits(e)3,1962,6932,520-173-6
    - nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
    a. This component is not seasonally adjusted.
    b. Passenger 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 Methodology page.
     

    Imports of goods and services (debits)

    A rise of $579m (2%) in imports of goods and services to $29,996m, seasonally adjusted:

    • A rise of $553m (6%) in consumption goods
    • A rise of $323m (3%) in intermediate and other merchandise goods
    • A rise of $106m (10%) in non-monetary gold
    • A rise of $44m (1%) in services 
    • A fall of $488m (7%) in capital goods.
    • Imports of services contributed 12% to total goods and services imports.

    Imports of goods

    Download
    1.  Trend series suspended from March 2019
       
    Imports of goods summary(a), seasonally adjusted
              Change in:
    Jun 2020Jul 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020
     $m  $m  $m  $m %
    Total goods debits-23,924-25,765-26,299-5342
     General merchandise-23,118-24,659-25,087-4282
      Consumption goods-8,228-8,739-9,292-5536
       Food and beverages, mainly for consumption-1,508-1,387-1,396-91
       Household electrical items-633-708-66048-7
       Non-industrial transport equipment-708-1,295-1,766-47136
       Textiles, clothing and footwear-1,848-1,910-1,936-261
       Toys, books and leisure goods-567-565-582-173
       Consumption goods n.e.s.-2,964-2,873-2,952-793
      Capital goods-5,540-6,524-6,076448-7
       Machinery and industrial equipment-1,971-1,973-2,079-1065
       ADP equipment-919-1,144-978166-15
       Telecommunications equipment-1,148-1,228-1,2235-
       Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(b)(c)-159-218-105113-52
       Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-700-770-928-15821
       Capital goods n.e.s.(d)-641-1,191-762429-36
      Intermediate and other merchandise goods-9,350-9,396-9,719-3233
       Food and beverages, mainly for industry-211-200-205-53
       Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.(d)-145-148-1399-6
       Fuels and lubricants(c)-1,530-1,654-2,048-39424
       Parts for transport equipment-976-1,084-1,094-101
       Parts for ADP equipment-83-84-7113-15
       Other parts for capital goods-1,607-1,658-1,64315-1
       Organic and inorganic chemicals-350-294-25341-14
       Paper and paperboard-215-193-17914-7
       Textile yarn and fabrics-121-132-147-1511
       Iron and steel-263-273-279-62
       Plastics-421-361-34615-4
       Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.-3,384-3,270-3,138132-4
       Other merchandise goods(b)(e)-32-34-166-132388
       Goods procured in ports by carriers(c)-11-12-12--
     Non-monetary gold(c)-806-1,106-1,212-10610
    - nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
    a. For sign conventions, see the Methodology page.
    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.
    e. From July 1981, this component is not seasonally adjusted.
     

    Show all

    Consumption goods

    A rise of $553m (6%) in consumption goods imports to $9,292m, seasonally adjusted.

    led by non-industrial transport equipment, up $471m (36%),

    Capital goods

    A fall of $448m (7%) in  capital goods imports to $6,076m seasonally adjusted.

    Leading the fall were:

    • capital goods n.e.s., down $429m (36%)
    • ADP equipment, down $166m (15%)
    • civil aircraft and confidentialised items, down $113m (52%).

    Partly offsetting these falls were:

    • industrial transport equipment n.e.s., up $158m (21%)
    • machinery and industrial equipment, up $106m (5%).

    Intermediate and other merchandise goods

    A rise of $323m (3%) in intermediate and other merchandise goods imports to $9,719m, seasonally adjusted.

    Leading the rise were:

    • fuels and lubricants, up $394m (24%)
    • other merchandise goods, up $132m.

    Partly offsetting these rises was processed industrial supplies n.e.s., down $132m (4%).

    Non-monetary gold

    A rise of $106m (10%) non-monetary gold imports to $1,212m, seasonally adjusted and original.

    Imports of services

    Download
    1. Trend series suspended from March 2019
       
    Imports of services summary(a), seasonally adjusted
              Change in:
    Jun 2020Jul 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020Aug 2020
     $m  $m  $m  $m %
    Total services debits-3,781-3,652-3,696-441
     Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
     Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)-57-35-2411-31
     Transport-995-959-994-354
      Passenger(c)-35-28-35-725
      Freight-937-912-941-293
      Other(b)-8-9-9--
      Postal and courier services(d)(e)-15-9-9--
     Travel-44-46-54-817
     Other services-2,685-2,612-2,625-13-
    Memorandum item     
     Tourism related services debits(f)-79-75-88-1317
    - nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
    a. For sign conventions, see the Methodology page.
    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 Methodology page.
     

    Selected commodities

    Selected commodities, quantity and unit value analysis - International merchandise trade basis(a) - Original terms

      ValueQuantity Unit Value
    Iron Ore 
    Iron ore (lump) - Total movement↑ 134m (6%)↑ (2%)↑ (3%)
     Hong Kong (SAR of China)↑ 47m-↑ (9%)
     Vietnam↑ 47m--
     Korea, Republic of (South)↑ 40m (41%)↑ (43%)↓ (2%)
    Iron ore (fines) - Total movement↑ 452m (7%)↑ (2%)↑ (5%)
     Singapore↑ 257m-↑ (8%)
     Hong Kong (SAR of China)↑ 167m-↑ (9%)
     Japan↑ 101m (49%)↑ (43%)↑ (4%)
     Korea, Republic of (South)↓ 148m (34%)↓ (35%)↑ (1%)
    Coal 
    Hard coking↓ 63m (4%)↑ (1%)↓ (5%)
     China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)↓ 275m (39%)↓ (33%)↓ (10%)
     Japan↓ 33m (18%)↓ (19%)↑ (1%)
     India↑ 255m (86%)↑ (79%)↑ (4%)
    Semi soft coal - Total movement↑ 4m (1%)↑ (1%)-
     Taiwan↑ 39m-↓ (5%)
     India↑ 26m (18%)↑ (12%)↑ (5%)
     China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)↓ 51m (60%)↓ (51%)↓ (20%)
    Thermal coal - Total movement↑ 221m (20%)↑ (26%)↓ (4%)
     Japan↑ 106m (24%)↑ (27%)↓ (2%)
     China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)↑ 67m (57%)↑ (66%)↓ (5%)
     Thailand↑ 33m-↓ (11%)
    LNG - Total movement↓ 322m (13%)↑ (12%)↓ (23%)
             Change in:
    Mar 2020Apr 2020May 2020Jun 2020Jul 2020Aug 2020
    %%%%%%
     Iron ore
    Lump      
     Quantity28-152-62
     Unit value11-61-113
    Fines      
     Quantity30-119-112
     Unit value9-37025
     Coal
    Hard coking      
     Quantity-86616-201
     Unit value16-2-19-18p15p-5
    Semi-soft      
     Quantity19-15-167151
     Unit value10-3-14-16p9p0
    Thermal      
     Quantity16-10-211-1926
     Unit value9-6-10p-9p-7p-4
     Gas
    LNG      
     Quantity113-9-9112
     Unit value4-9-9-14-10-23
    - nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
    p preliminary figure or series subject to revision
    a. Data in this table are on a revised international merchandise trade basis and exclude value adjustments applied to balance of payments series.
     

    Value adjustments

    Goods credits on an international merchandise trade basis

    Iron ore (in original terms)

    • on a merchandise trade basis, adjustments have been applied to iron ore lump in February (-$5m), April (-$15m), May (+$20m), June (-$10m), July (-$5m) and August (+$115m) respectively. Adjustments have been applied to iron ore fines in March (+$10m), April (+$20m), May (+$55m), June (+$55m), July (+$130m) and August (+$170m) respectively. When actual final transaction prices become available estimates are replaced with these data. For price and volume details, see the Selected commodities section.
       

    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 August (-$220m), July (-$265m) and June (-$5m). 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 5.9% between June 2020 and July 2020 and fell 7.5% between July 2020 and August 2020.
    • In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes fell 2.6% between June 2020 and July 2020 and fell 5.8% between July 2020 and August 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.

    More information

    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. 

    Changes in forthcoming issues

    Annual Seasonal Re-analysis

    In the September 2020 issue of this publication, the seasonally adjusted and trend estimates of goods and services on a balance of payments basis will be revised as a result of the annual seasonal re-analysis. This re-analysis reviews the seasonal and trading day factors in more detail than is possible in the monthly processing cycle and reassesses the appropriateness of any prior corrections.

    Revisions

    Show all

    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 February 2020.

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

    • goods exports back to July 2016
    • goods imports back to February 2018
    • services exports back to January 2017
    • services imports back to July 2016

     

    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 2016-17 by $424m
    • decreased the surplus on goods and services for 2017-18 by $669m
    • decreased the surplus on goods and services for 2018-19 by $28m
    • decreased the surplus on goods and services for 2019-20 by $916m
    • decreased the surplus on goods and services for July 2020 by $80m.

    Previous catalogue number

    This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.
     

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