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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 2021
Released
5/10/2021
Future Releases
  • Next Release 4/11/2021
    International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, September 2021
  • Next Release 2/12/2021
    International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, October 2021
  • Next Release 11/01/2022
    International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, November 2021
  • View all releases

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus increased $2,427m to $15,077m in August
  • Goods and services credits (exports) rose $1,923m (4%) to $48,524m
  • Goods and services debits (imports) fell $506m (1%) to $33,446m

The ABS are making changes to the International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia publication and the international trade work program. For more information on the changes and to provide feedback, see paper released on 5 October titled, Enhancing the quality of Australia's international trade statistics

Main features

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Key Figures, Seasonally Adjusted
  Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services11,68012,65015,0772,427na
 Credits (Exports of goods & services)44,43746,60148,5241,9234
 Debits (Imports of goods & services)-32,757-33,952-33,446-506-1

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 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.

Balance on goods and services

In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $15,077m in August 2021, an increase of $2,427m on the surplus in July 2021. 

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Balance on goods and services(a), seasonally adjusted
   Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services11,68012,65015,0772,427na
 Total goods and services credits44,43746,60148,5241,9234
  Total goods credits39,11441,70043,7492,0495
  Total services credits5,3234,9014,774- 127- 3
 Total goods and services debits- 32,757- 33,952- 33,446- 506- 1
  Total goods debits- 28,406- 29,613- 29,057- 556- 2
  Total services debits- 4,351- 4,338- 4,389511

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
 Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)
Total goods credits39,11441,70043,7492,0495
 General merchandise36,93839,57941,2811,7024
  Rural goods4,5104,8715,42255111
  Non-rural goods32,42734,70935,8591,1503
 Net exports of goods under merchanting(a)373734- 3- 8
 Non-monetary gold(a)2,1392,0842,43435017


(a) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Rural goods

Rural goods rose $551m (11%), led by Cereal grains and cereal preparations, which increased 17% in August. Supply and production disruptions affecting key wheat exporting nations continue to create advantageous conditions for Australian exporters.

 

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Rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%) 
Rural goods4,5104,8715,42255111 
 Meat and meat preparations1,1761,3271,414877 
 Cereal grains and cereal preparations1,1931,1591,35219317 
 Wool and sheepskins33438661522959 
 Other rural(a)1,8081,9992,041422 

(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 $1,150m (3%), driven by other mineral fuels and coal, coke and briquettes. 

The increase in other mineral fuels was driven by LNG, with strong energy demand in Asia as economic activity rebounds from COVID-19 related disruptions. 

The increase in coal, coke and briquettes was driven by hard coking coal and thermal coal. The increase in thermal coal also coincides with strong energy demand in Asia as well as reduced supply from other key thermal coal producing nations.

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Non-rural goods, seasonally adjusted
  Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)
Non-rural goods32 42734 70935 8591 1503
 Metal ores and minerals(a)18 76919 23818 502- 736- 4
 Coal, coke and briquettes(a)3 9644 7855 39360813
 Other mineral fuels(a)4 3285 1215 92780616
 Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)1 0051 1521 42727524
 Machinery923916951354
 Transport equipment36532632821
 Other manufactures1 7801 8711 916452
 Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(b)1 1021 1061 22311711
 Goods procured in ports by carriers(c)192194193- 1- 1

(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 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
 Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)
Total services credits5,3234,9014,774- 127- 3
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)233--
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)111--
 Transport335327323- 4- 1
  Passenger(b)(c)1472- 5- 71
  Freight(d)252727--
  Other158152152--
  Postal and courier services(e)138141141--
 Travel(c)2,3121,8761,726- 150- 8
 Other services2,6732,6942,721271
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services credits(f)2,3261,8831,729- 154- 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) 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

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

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Goods debits (imports) (a), seasonally adjusted
 Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)
Total goods debits- 28,406- 29,613- 29,057- 556- 2
 General merchandise debits- 27,843- 29,176- 28,466- 710- 2
  Consumption goods- 9,675- 9,392- 9,7984064
  Capital goods- 7,057- 7,042- 6,759- 283- 4
  Intermediate and other merchandise goods- 11,111- 12,742- 11,909- 833- 7
 Non-monetary gold(b)- 563- 437- 59115435

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

Consumption goods

Consumption goods increased $406m (4%), led by non-industrial transport equipment which recorded a historic high coinciding with strong demand for passenger vehicles.

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Consumption goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)
Consumption goods- 9,675- 9,392- 9,7984064
 Food and beverages, mainly for consumption- 1,382- 1,385- 1,456715
 Household electrical items- 609- 575- 554- 21- 4
 Non-industrial transport equipment- 2,376- 2,269- 2,54227312
 Textiles, clothing and footwear- 1,719- 1,645- 1,631- 14- 1
 Toys, books and leisure goods- 608- 608- 61681
 Consumption goods n.e.s.- 2,980- 2,911- 2,998873

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

Capital goods

Capital goods fell $283m (4%), driven by capital goods n.e.s. This fall follows a strong July due to ship imports not repeated in August.

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Capital goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)   
Capital goods-7,057-7,042-6,759-283-4   
 Machinery and industrial equipment-2,486-2,355-2,403482   
 ADP equipment-924-1,150-1,197474   
 Telecommunications equipment-1,018-1,061-1,039-22-2   
 Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(b)(c)-340-339-4016218   
 Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-1,543-1,214-1,127-87-7   
 Capital goods n.e.s.(d)-746-923-592-331-36   

(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 fell $833m (7%), led by other parts for capital goods.

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Intermediate and other merchandise goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)  
Intermediate and other merchandise goods- 11,111-12,742- 11,909- 833- 7  
 Food and beverages, mainly for industry- 149- 167- 178117  
 Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.(b)- 221- 278- 200- 78- 28  
 Fuels and lubricants(c)- 3,214- 3,104- 3,2071033  
 Parts for transport equipment- 1,173- 1,256- 1,270141  
 Parts for ADP equipment- 79- 70- 821217  
 Other parts for capital goods- 1,560- 2,825- 1,614- 1,211- 43  
 Organic and inorganic chemicals- 325- 297- 3404314  
 Paper and paperboard- 188- 199- 20011  
 Textile yarn and fabrics- 143- 144- 144--  
 Iron and steel- 267- 275- 3396423  
 Plastics- 433- 422- 432102  
 Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.- 3,314- 3,608- 3,7331253  
 Other merchandise goods(e)- 34- 90- 1627280  
 Goods procured in ports by carriers(d)- 12- 8- 7- 1- 13  

- 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 is not seasonally adjusted.
(d) Prior to April 2010 this series is not seasonally adjusted.
(d) 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
 Jun-21 ($m)Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 ($m)Jul-21 to Aug-21 (%)
Total services debits- 4,351- 4,338- 4,389511
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)- 45- 54- 41- 13- 24
 Transport- 1,398- 1,450- 1,496463
  Passenger(c)(d)- 81- 67- 62- 5- 7
  Freight- 1,277- 1,348- 1,399514
  Other(b)- 21- 16- 16--
  Postal and courier services(e)(f)- 18- 19- 19--
 Travel(d)- 65- 69- 78913
 Other services- 2,842- 2,766- 2,7748-
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services debits(g)- 146- 136- 14043

- 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

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Selected commodities, quantities (a)
 Mar-21 (%)Apr-21 (%)May-21 (%)Jun-21 (%)Jul-21 (%)Aug-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump20- 812- 2- 108
Iron ore - Fines15- 573- 85
Coal - Hard coking21- 132- 1714
Coal - Semi-soft- 1811- 214- 116
Coal - Thermal- 151311- 115- 3
Gas - LNG15-3-14-3232

- 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)
 Mar-21 (%)Apr-21 (%)May-21 (%)Jun-21 (%)Jul-21 (%)Aug-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump49868- 15
Iron ore - Fines251062- 15
Coal - Hard coking11- 10- 310352
Coal - Semi-soft28-4162
Coal - Thermal53- 1161312
Gas - LNG-46418148

- 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 July 2021 and August 2021 the largest movements recorded for the following selected commodities were:

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Iron ore (lump), movement by country, Jul-21 to Aug-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (lump) - Total movement- 350- 88- 15
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)- 427- 126- 16
Japan- 58- 92- 11
Korea, Republic of (South)3919118
Vietnam43---
Indonesia47---
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Iron ore (fines), movement by country, Jul-21 to Aug-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (fines) - Total movement-1 371- 115- 15
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)-1 255- 126- 17
Vietnam- 74- 45- 498
Taiwan- 48- 31- 27- 5
Japan513- 2
Indonesia71731- 11
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Hard coking (high rank) coal, Jul-21 to Aug-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
High rank coal - Total movement29217142
Japan24713911611
Brazil71129147- 7
Sweden42---
Slovenia- 40- 100- 100-
India- 71- 10- 111
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Semi soft coal, movement by country, Jul-21 to Aug-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Semi soft coal - Total movement62962
Japan984545-
Malaysia12---
India- 3- 2- 1313
France (includes Andorra and Monaco)- 13- 100- 100-
Netherlands- 25- 100- 100-
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Thermal Coal, movement by country, Jul-21 to Aug-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Thermal coal - Total movement2249- 312
Japan29529189
Malaysia8322016620
India- 38- 43- 489
Korea, Republic of (South)- 56- 11- 154
Taiwan- 68- 14- 173
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Liquid Natural Gas, total movement, Jul-21 to Aug-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) - Total movement4271028
     

- 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.

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Iron Ore Adjustment, Original Terms
 Feb-21($m)Mar-21($m)Apr-21($m)May-21($m)Jun-21($m)Jul-21($m)Aug-21($m)
Iron ore lump020253540-550
Iron ore fines00-207545400

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 June (-$5m), July (+$15m) and August (+$65m) 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 17.9% between June 2021 and July 2021 and rose 8.7% between July 2021 and August 2021.

In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes rose 18.1% between June 2021 and July 2021 and rose 9.7% between July 2021 and August 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 March 2021.

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

  • Goods exports back to January 2021
  • Goods imports back to November 2014
  • Services exports back to July 2001
  • Services imports back to July 2005

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 2017-18 by $463m
  • decreased the surplus on goods and services for 2018-19 by $494m
  • increased the surplus on goods and services for 2019-20 by $458m
  • increased the surplus on goods and services for 2020-21 by $1,558m
  • increased the surplus on goods and services for July 2021 by $121m.

 

 

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.

Changes in this issue

This issue incorporates Historical Revisions, including changes to the way travel debits are compiled. Please see article "Australian System of National Accounts historical revisions" for more details.

From the August 2021 release of this publication, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country grouping has been updated to reflect the current membership. This change will be reflected across the entire time-series back to January 1988.

In line with ongoing improvement processes, seasonal adjustment of the Metal ores and minerals, Coal, coke & briquettes and Other mineral fuels components of goods credits for the period July 2005 to June 2019 has reverted to adjustment using seasonal factors based on the current price series. Prior to the August 2021 publication, for the span indicated, these series were seasonally adjusted using seasonal factors derived from a monthly volume series.

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