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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
September 2020
Released
5/11/2020
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    International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, October 2020
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    International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, November 2021
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    International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia, November 2020
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Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus increased $3,012m to $5,630m in September. 
  • Exports of goods and services rose $1,265m (4%) to $33,737m.
  • Imports of goods and services fell $1,747m (6%) to $28,108m.

Main features

Key figures, Seasonally adjusted
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Balance on goods and services4 3622 6185 630115
Goods and services credits33 84832 47233 7374
Goods and services debits29 48629 85528 108-6
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COVID-19 in this publication

COVID-19 in September 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 September 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.

Balance on goods and services

In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $5,630m in September 2020, an increase of $3,012m on the surplus in August 2020.

Goods and services summary (a), Seasonally adjusted
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Balance on goods and services4 3622 6185 6303 012115
Total goods and services credits33 84832 47233 7371 2654
Total goods credits28 59627 38828 5361 1484
Total services credits5 2525 0845 2011172
Total goods and services debits-29 486-29 855-28 108-1 747-6
Total goods debits-25 790-26 119-24 430-1 689-6
Total services debits-3 696-3 736-3 677-59-2

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

Exports of goods and services (credits)

In seasonally adjusted terms, goods and services credits rose $1,265m (4%) to $33,737m.

  • non-monetary gold rose $989m (72%)
  • non-rural goods rose $207m (1%)
  • net exports of goods under merchanting rose $2m (13%)
  • rural goods fell $50m (2%)
  • services credits rose $117m (2%).

Exports of goods

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

Goods credits, Seasonally adjusted
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Total goods credits28 59627 38828 5361 1484
General merchandise24 96625 99226 1491571
Rural goods2 9263 2143 164-50-2
Non-rural goods22 04122 77822 9852071
Net exports of goods under merchanting (a)161618213
Non-monetary gold (a)3 6141 3802 36998972

(a) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Rural goods

Rural goods
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Total rural goods2 9263 2143 164-50-2
Meat and meat preparations1 0761 1441 065-79-7
Cereal grains and cereal preparations329396419236
Wool and sheepskins188179160-19-11
Other rural (a)1 3321 4961 520242

- 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
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Non-rural goods22 04122 77822 9852071
Metal ores and minerals(b)11 49512 13012 3221922
Coal, coke and briquettes(c)2 8813 1253 100-25-1
Other mineral fuels(b)(d)2 8422 6982 740422
Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)731958907-51-5
Machinery847841794-47-6
Transport equipment276268290228
Other manufactures1 7531 7441 7451-
Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(a)1 093888966789
Goods procured in ports by carriers(d)124127121-6-5

- 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) 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.

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

Exports of services

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

Services credits, Seasonally adjusted
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Total services credits5 2525 0845 2011172
Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)-----
Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)211--
Transport330330330--
Transport - Passenger(b)332-1-33
Transport - Freight(c)252424--
Transport - Other16316216311
Transport - Postal and courier services(d)140140140--
Travel2 6012 4162 5211054
Other services2 3182 3372 349121
Tourism related services credits(e)2 6042 4192 5241054

- 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 Explanatory notes. 

Imports of goods and services (debits)

In seasonally adjusted terms, goods and services imports fell $1,747m (6%) to $28,108m.

  • Intermediate and other merchandise goods fell $629m (7%)
  • Non-monetary gold fell $504m (42%)
  • Consumption goods fell $358m (4%)
  • Capital goods fell $199m (3%)
  • Services debits fell $59m (2%).

Imports of goods

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

Goods debits (a), Seasonally adjusted
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Total goods debits-25 790-26 119-24 430-1 689-6
General merchandise debits-24 684-24 908-23 723-1 185-5
Consumption goods-8 766-9 247-8 889-358-4
Capital goods-6 531-6 088-5 889-199-3
Intermediate and other merchandise goods-9 388-9 574-8 945-629-7
Non-monetary gold (b)-1 106-1 211-707-504-42

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

(b) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Consumption goods

Consumption goods, Seasonally adjusted
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Total consumption goods-8 766-9 247-8 889-358-4
Food and beverages, mainly for consumption-1 377-1 382-1 336-46-3
Household electrical items-709-659-604-55-8
Non-industrial transport equipment-1 296-1 772-1 800282
Textiles, clothing and footwear-1 919-1 918-1 716-202-11
Toys, books and leisure goods-567-580-559-21-4
Consumption goods n.e.s.-2 897-2 936-2 874-62-2

Capital goods

Capital goods, Seasonally adjusted
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Total capital goods-6 531-6 088-5 889-199-3
Machinery and industrial equipment-1 978-2 091-2 118271
ADP equipment-1 141-973-965-8-1
Telecommunications equipment-1 218-1 211-865-346-29
Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(a)(b)-218-105-247142135
Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-775-945-974293
Capital goods n.e.s.(c)-1 200-763-720-43-6

(a) 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.

(b) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

(c) 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, Seasonally adjusted
Jul-20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Total intermediate and other merchandise goods-9 388-9 574-8 945-629-7
Food and beverages, mainly for industry-199-200-176-24-12
Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.(c)-152-148-2136544
Fuels and lubricants(b)-1 695-1 977-1 757-220-11
Parts for transport equipment-1 082-1 086-1 080-6-1
Parts for ADP equipment-84-69-59-10-14
Other parts for capital goods-1 645-1 607-1 449-158-10
Organic and inorganic chemicals-293-252-271198
Paper and paperboard-188-179-167-12-7
Textile yarn and fabrics-131-145-130-15-10
Iron and steel-271-277-270-7-3
Plastics-358-341-321-20-6
Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.-3 242-3 115-3 011-104-3
Other merchandise goods(a)(d)-34-166-28-138-83
Goods procured in ports by carriers(b)-12-12-1318

(a) For sign conventions, see paragraph 15 of 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.

Imports of services

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(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

Services debits (a), Seasonally adjusted
Jul 20 ($m)Aug-20 ($m)Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 ($m)Change Aug-20 - Sep-20 (%)
Total services debits-3 696-3 736-3 677-59-2
Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)-35-24-341042
Transport-946-974-911-63-6
Transport - Passenger(c)-28-31-28-3-10
Transport - Freight-899-925-865-60-6
Transport - Other(b)-9-9-9--
Transport - Postal and courier services(d)(e)-9-9-9--
Travel-43-50-41-9-18
Other services-2 672-2 688-2 6913-
Tourism related services debits(f)-72-80-69-11-14

- 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)
Apr-20 (%)May-20 (%)Jun-20 (%)Jul-20 %)Aug-20 (%)Sep-20 (%)
Iron ore - Lump-244-81-2
Iron ore - Fines-128-111-
Coal - Hard coking6616-18p-p8
Coal - Semi-soft-15-16715p-1p-3
Coal - Thermal-10-211-1927-19
Gas - LNG3-9-9012-4
Selected commodities, unit values (a)
Apr-20 (%)May-20 (%)Jun-20 (%)Jul-20 (%)Aug-20 (%)Sep-20 (%)
Iron ore - Lump-52-1063
Iron ore - Fines-370275
Coal - Hard coking-2-19-18-5p14p1
Coal - Semi-soft-3-14-160p8p6
Coal - Thermal-6-10-9-6-74
Gas - LNG-9-8-16-10-25-4

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 
p preliminary figure or series subject to revision 
(a) Data in these tables are on a revised international merchandise trade basis and exclude 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 August 2020 to September 2020 the largest movements recorded for the following selected commodities were:

Iron ore lump, up $32m (1%), with quantities down 2% and unit values up 3%. Exports to:

  • Taiwan rose $57m, following no exports in August 2020
  • Japan rose $29m (17%), with quantities up 10% and unit values up 6%
  • China fell $40m (2%), with quantities down 5% and unit values up 3%.


Iron ore fines, up $363m (5%), with unit values up 5%. Exports to:

  • China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) rose $271m (5%), with unit values up 4%
  • Hong Kong (SAR of China) rose $102m (47%), with quantities up 37% and unit values up 7%
  • Singapore rose $70m (26%), with quantities up 19% and unit values up 6%
  • Malaysia fell $28m (79%), with quantities down 79% and unit values up 3%.


Hard coking coal, up $140m, with quantities up 8% and unit values up 1%. Exports to:

  • Japan rose $133m (90%), with quantities up and unit values down 7%
  • The Republic of Korea rose $65m, with quantities up and unit values down 3%
  • China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) fell $111m (26%), with quantities down 27% and unit values up 2%.


Semi-soft coal, up $16m (3%), with quantities down 3% and unit values up 6%. Exports to:

  • Japan rose $53m (43%), with quantities up 45% and unit values down 1%
  • India rose $23m (15%), with quantities down 1% and unit values up 16%
  • China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) fell $34m, to zero exports in September 2020.


Thermal coal, down $208m (16%), with quantities down 19% and unit values up 4%. Exports to:

  • China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) fell $117m (64%), with quantities down 64% and unit values down 2%
  • Japan fell $75m (14%), with quantities down 18% and unit values up 5%
  • India rose $59m, following no exports in August 2020.


Liquefied natural gas (LNG), down $166m (8%), with quantities down 4% and unit values down 4%.

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

Iron ore (in original terms)

  • on a merchandise trade basis, adjustments have been applied to iron ore lump in March (-$5m), April (-$10m), May (-$5m), June (-$30m), July (-$5m), August (+$20m) and September (+$100m) 2020 respectively. Adjustments have been applied to iron ore fines in March (+$40m), April (+$35m), May (+$35m), June (+$90m), July (+$70m), August (+$220m) and September(+$215m) 2020 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 September (-$265m) and August (-$235m) 2020. 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 0.7% between July 2020 and August 2020 and rose 8.0% between August 2020 and September 2020.
  • In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes fell 6.3% between July 2020 and August 2020 and fell 6.8% between August 2020 and September 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.

Adjustments to capital on a balance of payments basis

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 March 2020.

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

  • goods exports back to March 2020
  • goods imports back to March 2020
  • services exports back to January 2020
  • services imports back to July 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 $304m
  • decreased the surplus on goods and services for 2020-21 by $288m.

Related releases

New COVID-19 Publication

In response to the global COVID-19 crisis the ABS has released a new publication, International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0.55.024). This release provides preliminary estimates for Australian international merchandise (goods) trade on a monthly basis to help measure the economic impact of COVID-19. These estimates are compiled from administrative data (customs records) sourced from the Department of Home Affairs and are subject to revision. This publication will run monthly until further notice. The final monthly estimates will be published in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0). For more information on the range of additional products released by the ABS to help assess the impact of COVID-19 please see the COVID-19: Additional products to measure the impact page.

Changes in this issue

Annual Seasonal Re-analysis

In this issue, the seasonally adjusted and trend estimates of goods and services on a balance of payments basis have been 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.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.
 

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