1.1 The ABS has produced statistics on Australia's trade with the rest of the world since the early twentieth century. In more recent years the use of common classifications and concepts has promoted international comparability. Advances in technology have also enabled and enhanced the accessibility of the statistics with considerable information now available from the ABS website. Paper copies of older publications can be viewed at selected Australian libraries and ABS offices.
1.2 Australia's international merchandise trade statistics are compiled in broad agreement with the United Nations (UN) standard which provides the international framework under which the statistics are compiled. The statistics are mainly sourced from information provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) when goods are exported from, or imported into, Australia.
1.3 Australia's international merchandise trade statistics are used extensively by governments, businesses, organisations, researchers and other individuals in Australia and overseas. The way the statistics are used varies from monitoring the value and quantity of particular products exported from, or imported into Australia, to the development of national and international trade policy. The statistics are a key input to Australia's balance of payments, national accounts and producer price indexes.
1.4 Users of Australia's international merchandise trade statistics should read this publication to gain a deeper understanding of the:
- conceptual framework under which the statistics are compiled
- data sources and methods used to compile the statistics
- data quality and any limitations on the use or analysis of these statistics
- main statistical outputs and their relationship to other economic statistics produced by the ABS and other statistical organisations.