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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
May 2021
Released
1/07/2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus increased $1,524m to $9,681m in May. 
  • Goods and services credits (exports) rose $2,443m (6%) to $42,233m.
  • Goods and services debits (imports) rose $919m (3%) to $32,552m.

Main features

Key Figures, Seasonally Adjusted
  Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services6 0038 1579 6811 524na
 Credits (Exports of goods & services)38 50239 79042 2332 4436
 Debits (Imports of goods & services)-32 499-31 633-32 5529193

na not applicable

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.

Cessation of International Merchandise Trade, Preliminary, Australia

The release of preliminary data on Australia's international trade in goods on an original, current price, merchandise trade basis, will be discontinued with the June 2021 release, to be published on 22 July 2021. For more information, see Changes to ABS statistical work program. International merchandise trade data will continue to be available monthly in International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia.

Balance on goods and services

In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $9,681m in May 2021, an increase of $1,524m on the surplus in April 2021.

Balance on goods and services(a), seasonally adjusted
   Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services6 0038 1579 6811 524na
 Total goods and services credits38 50239 79042 2332 4436
  Total goods credits33 69535 03037 2482 2186
  Total services credits4 8074 7604 9852255
 Total goods and services debits-32 499-31 633-32 552919 3
  Total goods debits-28 480-27 485-28 212727 3
  Total services debits-4 019-4 148-4 340192 5

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

Goods and services credits (exports), seasonally adjusted

Goods credits

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

Goods credits, seasonally adjusted
 Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Total goods credits33 69535 03037 2482 2186
 General merchandise31 52533 21735 3942 1777
  Rural goods4 1094 2434 4972546
  Non-rural goods27 41628 97430 8971 9237
 Net exports of goods under merchanting(a)503737--
 Non-monetary gold(a)2 1201 7761 817412

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Rural goods

Rural goods rose $254m, led by cereal grains and cereal preparations. 

Rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Rural goods4 1094 2434 4972546
 Meat and meat preparations1 1301 1651 202373
 Cereal grains and cereal preparations8699751 08511011
 Wool and sheepskins2312572994216
 Other rural(a)1 8781 8471 910633

(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 $1,923m, driven by metal ores and minerals.

 

Non-rural goods, seasonally adjusted
  Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Non-rural goods27 41628 97430 8971 9237
 Metal ores and minerals15 66416 17417 9861 81211
 Coal, coke and briquettes3 0133 5833 504- 79- 2
 Other mineral fuels3 5653 8183 892742
 Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)1 0491 1261 174484
 Machinery910924953293
 Transport equipment29733734362
 Other manufactures1 7711 9011 785- 116- 6
 Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(a)9739331 07314015
 Goods procured in ports by carriers(b)174179189106

(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

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

Services credits, seasonally adjusted
 Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Total services credits4 8074 7604 9852255
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)222--
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)555--
 Transport316330353237
  Passenger(b)2133522169
  Freight(c)202121--
  Other167165165--
  Postal and courier services(d)12713113211
 Travel1 8241 8842 0541709
 Other services2 6602 5392 571321
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services credits(e)1 8261 8982 08919110

- 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

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

Goods debits (imports) (a), seasonally adjusted
 Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Total goods debits-28 480-27 485-28 2127273
 General merchandise debits-27 499-26 959-27 3273681
  Consumption goods-9 998-9 724-9 8241001
  Capital goods-6 846-6 502-6 7132113
  Intermediate and other merchandise goods-10 655-10 733-10 791581
 Non-monetary gold(b)- 981- 526- 88535968

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

Consumption goods

Consumption goods rose $100m, led by textiles, clothing and footwear.

Consumption goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Consumption goods-9 998-9 724-9 8241001
 Food and beverages, mainly for consumption-1 460-1 377-1 412353
 Household electrical items- 733- 610- 640305
 Non-industrial transport equipment-2 280-2 531-2 290- 241- 10
 Textiles, clothing and footwear-1 852-1 621-1 79317211
 Toys, books and leisure goods- 693- 655- 6572-
 Consumption goods n.e.s.-2 981-2 930-3 0331034

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

Capital goods

Capital goods rose $211m, driven by capital goods n.e.s.

Capital goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Capital goods-6,846-6,502-6,7132113
 Machinery and industrial equipment-2,374-2,312-2,347352
 ADP equipment-926-932-978465
 Telecommunications equipment-1,090-1,099-1,041-58-5
 Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(b)(c)-360-191-2748343
 Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-1,219-1,181-1,104-77-7
 Capital goods n.e.s.(d)-877-787-96818123

(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 rose $58m, led by parts for transport equipment.

Intermediate and other merchandise goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Intermediate and other merchandise goods-10 655-10 733-10 791581
 Food and beverages, mainly for industry-185-176-175-1-1
 Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.(b)-158-186-179-7-4
 Fuels and lubricants-2 403-2 646-2 512-134-5
 Parts for transport equipment-1 188-1 087-1 176898
 Parts for ADP equipment-81-75-8057
 Other parts for capital goods-1 641-1 600-1 673735
 Organic and inorganic chemicals-310-312-31641
 Paper and paperboard-213-177-18363
 Textile yarn and fabrics-143-140-14332
 Iron and steel-331-270-280104
 Plastics-440-415-441266
 Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.-3 532-3 559-3 493-66-2
 Other merchandise goods(c)-22-85-1375261
 Goods procured in ports by carriers-6-5-3-2-40

(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) 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

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019

Services debits(a), seasonally adjusted
 Mar-21 ($m)Apr-21 ($m)May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 ($m)Apr-21 to May-21 (%)
Total services debits-4 019-4 148-4 3401925
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)- 37- 37- 43616
 Transport-1 262-1 273-1 292191
  Passenger(c)- 57- 68- 831522
  Freight-1 178-1 179-1 1823-
  Other(b)- 16- 15- 15--
  Postal and courier services(d)(e)- 11- 11- 11--
 Travel- 57- 127- 271144113
 Other services-2 663-2 712-2 734221
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services debits(f)- 114- 195- 35415982

- 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)
 Dec-20 (%)Jan-21 (%)Feb-21 (%)Mar-21 (%)Apr-21 (%)May-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump10- 12- 919- 812
Iron ore - Fines11- 13- 515- 48
Coal - Hard coking34- 21- 1123- 31
Coal - Semi-soft- 1216- 3- 1812-
Coal - Thermal25- 7- 6- 161411
Gas - LNG- 4-- 615- 2- 13

- 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)
 Dec-20 (%)Jan-21 (%)Feb-21 (%)Mar-21 (%)Apr-21 (%)May-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump1613-588
Iron ore - Fines164-348
Coal - Hard coking- 13299- 816
Coal - Semi-soft- 52939- 2
Coal - Thermal213863- 3
Gas - LNG750- 565

- 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 commodity movements

On an international merchandise trade basis, in original terms (noting the footnote in the above table), between April 2021 to May 2021 the largest movements recorded for the following selected commodities were:

Iron ore (lump), movement by country, Apr-21 to May-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (lump) - Total movement79521128
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)64424176
Japan8718414
Taiwan46281115
Vietnam441651631
Korea, Republic of (South)- 73- 26- 26-

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells) 

Iron ore (fines), movement by country, Apr-21 to May-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (fines) - Total movement1 7111788
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)1 4431898
Singapore16752418
Hong Kong (SAR of China)12830264
Japan7115114
Korea, Republic of (South)- 143- 20- 257
Hard coking (high rank) coal, Apr-21 to May-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
High rank coal - Total movement23516116
India6512- 1025
Taiwan451161018
Turkey43---
Croatia30---
France (includes Andorra and Monaco)- 32- 57- 54- 7

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Semi soft coal, movement by country, Apr-21 to May-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Semi soft coal - Total movement- 11- 2-- 2
Japan- 42- 17- 16- 1
India- 16- 10- 2- 8
Netherlands9---
Vietnam12107110- 2
Malaysia13---

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Thermal Coal, movement by country, Apr-21 to May-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Thermal coal - Total movement119811- 3
Korea, Republic of (South)995065- 9
Taiwan4121137
Turkey30---
Japan- 22- 4- 73
Malaysia- 28- 36- 395

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)  

Liquid Natural Gas, total movement, Apr-21 to May-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) - Total movement-263-9-135

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
 Nov-20($m)Dec-20($m)Jan-21($m)Feb-21($m)Mar-21($m)Apr-21($m)May-21($m)
Iron ore lump551015110201040
Iron ore fines555-5558055140

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 April (-$10m) and May (-$240m) 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 fell 2.7% between March 2021 and April 2021 and rose 3.7% between April 2021 and May 2021.

In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes fell 3.0% between March 2021 and April 2021 and fell 2.6% between April 2021 and May 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 November 2020.

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

Goods exports back to August 2020

Goods imports back to September 2019

Services exports back to July 2020

Services imports back to July 2020.

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 2020-21 by $259m.

 

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.
 

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