May key points
Balance on goods and services
- In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $8,025m in May 2020, an increase of $195m on the surplus in April 2020.
Credits (exports of goods and services)
- In seasonally adjusted terms, goods and services credits fell $1,604m (4%) to $35,742m. Non-rural goods fell $1,080m (4%), rural goods fell $404m (10%) and non-monetary gold fell $219m (12%). Net exports of goods under merchanting remained steady at $45m. Services credits rose $99m (2%).
Debits (imports of goods and services)
- In seasonally adjusted terms, goods and services debits fell $1,799m (6%) to $27,717m. Consumption goods fell $1,233m (14%), intermediate and other merchandise goods fell $821m (8%) and capital goods fell $412m (7%). Non-monetary gold rose $710m (113%). Services debits fell $43m (1%).
|Mar 2020||Apr 2020||May 2020||Apr 20 to May 20|
|BALANCE ON GOODS AND SERVICES|
|Seasonally adjusted||10 439||7 830||8 025||2|
|CREDITS (Exports of goods & services)|
|Seasonally adjusted||42 148||37 346||35 742||-4|
|DEBITS (Imports of goods & services)|
|Seasonally adjusted||31 708||29 516||27 717||-6|
[["Feb 2019","Mar 2019","Apr 2019","May 2019","Jun 2019","Jul 2019","Aug 2019","Sep 2019","Oct 2019","Nov 2019","Dec 2019","Jan 2020","Feb 2020","Mar 2020","Apr 2020","May 2020"],[,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,]]
a. Trend series suspended from March 2019
International Accounts uses the concurrent seasonal adjustment method, meaning that seasonal factors are re-estimated each time a new data point 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 that have been notably impacted by these events 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 International 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 the 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.
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.
COVID-19 in May month
Quality assurance undertaken by the ABS confirmed that the COVID-19 virus did not result in quality impacts to International Trade in Goods and Services statistics for May 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.