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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 2021
Released
4/11/2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus decreased $2,496 to $12,243m in September
  • Goods and services credits (exports) fell $3,081m (6%) to $44,969m driven by falls in iron ore prices
  • Goods and services debits (imports) fell $586m (2%) to $32,725m driven by continued global supply chain constraints

A research article, Export and Import Invoice Currencies, has been published as part of this release. This article explores the major currencies used to invoice Australia's merchandise imports and exports.

Main features

Key Figures, Seasonally Adjusted
  Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services13,68814,73912,243- 2,496na
 Credits (Exports of goods & services)46,39548,05044,969- 3,081- 6
 Debits (Imports of goods & services)- 32,707- 33,311- 32,725- 586- 2

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.

Balance on goods and services

In seasonally adjusted terms, the balance on goods and services was a surplus of $12,243m in September 2021, a decrease of $2,496m on the surplus in August 2021. 

Balance on goods and services(a), seasonally adjusted
   Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Balance on goods and services13,68814,73912,243- 2,496na
 Total goods and services credits46,39548,05044,969- 3,081- 6
  Total goods credits41,48943,27740,039- 3,238- 7
  Total services credits4,9064,7724,9291573
 Total goods and services debits- 32,707- 33,311- 32,725- 586- 2
  Total goods debits- 28,400- 28,998- 28,221- 777- 3
  Total services debits- 4,307- 4,313- 4,5041914
        

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
 Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Total goods credits41,48943,27740,039- 3,238- 7
 General merchandise39,37140,80938,564- 2,245- 6
  Rural goods4,8465,1415,15817-
  Non-rural goods34,52535,66933,406- 2,263- 6
 Net exports of goods under merchanting(a)343434--
 Non-monetary gold(a)2,0842,4341,441- 993- 41

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

Rural goods

Rural goods rose $17m, led by Other rural, which increased 12% in September. 

Partly offsetting the rise was Wool and sheepskins, down 39%.

 

Rural goods, seasonally adjusted
 Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%) 
Rural goods4,8465,1415,15817- 
 Meat and meat preparations1,3151,3661,438725 
 Cereal grains and cereal preparations1,1561,3101,212- 98- 7 
 Wool and sheepskins377479292- 187- 39 
 Other rural(a)1,9991,9862,21723112 

- Nil or rounded to zero
(a) For all time periods, estimates for sugar, sugar preparations and honey are included in Other non-rural.

Non-rural goods

Non-rural goods fell $2,263m (6%), driven by Metal ores and minerals, down 16%, and Metals (excl. non-monetary gold) down 23%. 

The fall in Metal ores and minerals (16%) was driven by falls in iron ore prices.

 

 

Non-rural goods, seasonally adjusted
  Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Non-rural goods34,52535,66933,406- 2,263- 6
 Metal ores and minerals(a)18,97718,26715,356- 2,911- 16
 Coal, coke and briquettes(a)4,8645,7196,0503316
 Other mineral fuels(a)5,1305,7656,2214568
 Metals (excl. non-monetary gold)1,1211,3721,056- 316- 23
 Machinery914931990596
 Transport equipment32531932341
 Other manufactures1,8741,8871,940533
 Other non-rural (incl. sugar and beverages)(b)1,1241,2131,258454
 Goods procured in ports by carriers(c)195196211158

(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

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

Services credits, seasonally adjusted
 Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Total services credits4,9064,7724,9291573
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(a)333--
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(a)1132200
 Transport327323323--
  Passenger(b)(c)722--
  Freight(d)272726- 1- 4
  Other152152152--
  Postal and courier services(e)14114114211
 Travel(c)1,8761,7201,8511318
 Other services2,7002,7262,750241
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services credits(f)1,8831,7221,8531318

- 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

(a) Trend series suspended from March 2019.

Goods debits (imports) (a), seasonally adjusted
 Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Total goods debits- 28,400- 28,998- 28,221- 777- 3
 General merchandise debits- 27,963- 28,407- 27,822- 585- 2
  Consumption goods- 9,326- 9,820- 8,833- 987- 10
  Capital goods- 7,066- 6,733- 7,1994667
  Intermediate and other merchandise goods- 11,571- 11,853- 11,791- 62- 1
 Non-monetary gold(b)- 437- 591- 399- 192- 32

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

Consumption goods

Consumption goods decreased $987m (10%), led by Non-industrial transport equipment, which fell $971m from a record high in August 2021. Ongoing supply chain issues continue to effect manufacturing of road vehicles. 

Consumption goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Consumption goods- 9,326- 9,820- 8,833- 987- 10
 Food and beverages, mainly for consumption- 1,379- 1,449- 1,379- 70- 5
 Household electrical items- 573- 552- 573214
 Non-industrial transport equipment- 2,219- 2,582- 1,611- 971- 38
 Textiles, clothing and footwear- 1,644- 1,629- 1,666372
 Toys, books and leisure goods- 608- 619- 642234
 Consumption goods n.e.s.- 2,903- 2,989- 2,963- 26- 1

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

Capital goods

Capital goods increased $466m (7%), driven by Capital goods n.e.s.

Capital goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Capital goods-7,066-6,733-7,1994667
 Machinery and industrial equipment-2,346-2,390-2,359-31-1
 ADP equipment-1,164-1,204-1,214101
 Telecommunications equipment-1,060-1,043-1,035-8-1
 Civil aircraft and confidentialised items(b)(c)-339-401-50210125
 Industrial transport equipment n.e.s.-1,201-1,110-1,104-6-1
 Capital goods n.e.s.(d)-955-585-98540068

(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 $62m (1%), led by Fuels and lubricants, which fell $231m (8%) as lockdowns in eastern Australia limited demand for fuel.

Intermediate and other merchandise goods(a), seasonally adjusted
 Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Intermediate and other merchandise goods- 11,571- 11,853- 11,791- 62- 1
 Food and beverages, mainly for industry- 166- 176- 165- 11- 6
 Primary industrial supplies n.e.s.(b)- 278- 190- 162- 28- 15
 Fuels and lubricants(c)- 3,062- 3,042- 2,811- 231- 8
 Parts for transport equipment- 1,252- 1,259- 1,176- 83- 7
 Parts for ADP equipment- 70- 81- 73- 8- 10
 Other parts for capital goods- 1,649- 1,662- 1,693312
 Organic and inorganic chemicals- 298- 344- 34951
 Paper and paperboard- 199- 200- 195- 5- 3
 Textile yarn and fabrics- 144- 144- 142- 2- 1
 Iron and steel- 272- 345- 375309
 Plastics- 421- 431- 426- 5- 1
 Processed industrial supplies n.e.s.- 3,662- 3,809- 4,1082998
 Other merchandise goods(e)- 90- 162- 107- 55- 34
 Goods procured in ports by carriers(d)- 8- 7- 7--

- 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.
(e) 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
 Jul-21 ($m)Aug-21 ($m)Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 ($m)Aug-21 to Sep-21 (%)
Total services debits- 4,307- 4,313- 4,5041914
 Manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others(b)-----
 Maintenance and repair services n.i.e.(b)- 54- 41- 37- 4- 10
 Transport- 1,462- 1,474- 1,64216811
  Passenger(c)(d)- 67- 21- 15- 6- 29
  Freight- 1,360- 1,417- 1,59317612
  Other(b)- 16- 16- 16--
  Postal and courier services(e)(f)- 19- 19- 18- 1- 5
 Travel(d)- 69- 75- 69- 6- 8
 Other services- 2,722- 2,724- 2,756321
Memorandum item     
 Tourism related services debits(g)- 136- 96- 84- 12- 13

- 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

Selected commodities, quantities (a)
 Apr-21 (%)May-21 (%)Jun-21 (%)Jul-21 (%)Aug-21 (%)Sep-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump- 812- 2- 1082
Iron ore - Fines- 473- 847
Coal - Hard coking-32- 1815- 9
Coal - Semi-soft13- 416- 1017
Coal - Thermal1211- 115- 4- 4
Gas - LNG- 3- 14- 3231- 1

- 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)
 Apr-21 (%)May-21 (%)Jun-21 (%)Jul-21 (%)Aug-21 (%)Sep-21 (%)
Iron ore - Lump9875- 14- 32
Iron ore - Fines51062- 15- 24
Coal - Hard coking- 10- 310 (p)3517- 2(p)
Coal - Semi-soft71318(p)12(p)- 1(p)
Coal - Thermal3- 1161415(p)4(p)
Gas - LNG64181395


(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 August 2021 and September 2021 the largest movements recorded for the following selected commodities were:

Iron ore (lump), movement by country, Aug-21 to Sep-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (lump) - Total movement-1 288- 302- 32
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)-1 016- 325- 35
Japan- 156- 28- 12- 17
Korea, Republic of (South)- 58- 24- 6- 19
Indonesia- 45- 96- 92- 49
Vietnam- 7- 19- 7- 13
Iron ore (fines), movement by country, Aug-21 to Sep-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Iron ore (fines) - Total movement-2 055- 197- 24
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)-1 785- 199- 26
Korea, Republic of (South)- 144- 22- 18- 4
Japan- 122- 18- 12- 7
Indonesia- 43- 52- 40- 19
Taiwan353386- 29
Hard coking (high rank) coal, Aug-21 to Sep-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
High rank coal - Total movement- 273- 12- 9- 2
Japan- 234- 49- 44- 8
France (includes Andorra and Monaco)- 64- 68- 7425
Indonesia- 47- 54- 553
Turkey531371322
Vietnam841281223
Semi soft coal, movement by country, Aug-21 to Sep-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Semi soft coal - Total movement5577- 1
Taiwan8522116123
Indonesia371 8061 62610
Vietnam21142148- 2
Korea, Republic of (South)- 38- 18- 14- 5
India- 43- 23- 10- 14
Thermal Coal, movement by country, Aug-21 to Sep-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Thermal coal - Total movement- 6-- 44
Malaysia- 71- 56- 6111
Taiwan- 70- 17- 226
Thailand- 29- 30- 347
Indonesia6519710347
India13927122514
Liquid Natural Gas, total movement, Aug-21 to Sep-21
 Value ($m)Value (%)Quantity (%)Unit Value (%)
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) - Total movement1894-15

- 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.

Iron Ore Adjustment, Original Terms
 Mar-21($m)Apr-21($m)May-21($m)Jun-21($m)Jul-21($m)Aug-21($m)Sep-21($m)
Iron ore lump001050-65-5-100
Iron ore fines1502030-30-65-400

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 (+$5m) August (+$10m) and September (+$470m) 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 17.8% between July 2021 and August 2021 and rose 0.3% between August 2021 and September 2021.

In the balance of payments series, the unit value of coal, coke and briquettes rose 18.0% between July 2021 and August 2021 and rose 8.5% between August 2021 and September 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 March 2021
  • Goods imports back to March 2021
  • Services exports back to July 2021
  • Services imports back to June 2021.

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 2020-21 by $131m
  • increased the surplus on goods and services for 2021-22 by $879m
  • increased the surplus on goods and services for March 2021 by $37m
  • increased the surplus on goods and services for April 2021 by $15m
  • increased the surplus on goods and services for May 2021 by $27m
  • increased the surplus on goods and services for June 2021 by $52m
  • increased the surplus on goods and services for July 2021 by $1,102m
  • decreased the surplus on goods and services for August 2021 by $223m.

 

 

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 5368.0.

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