Customs data is valuable for understanding import and export commodities passing through Australia’s ports, and airports. Information is submitted by exporters and importers or their agents to the Integrated Cargo System, managed by Australian Border Force.
The Customs data on the National Freight Data Hub is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics International Merchandise Trade data. This is a detailed quarterly dataset extracted from the ABF Integrated Cargo System. It contains commodity information by tonnes and value, port of departure, port of arrival, country of origin and destination, and mode of transport.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics cleans and aggregates the data by making adjustments for coverage, timing and valuation. Further, as part of the confidentiality process, some of the statistics for certain commodities are restricted in order to prevent their identification. The ABS Methodology provides detailed information about the data cleaning process undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics provides the data to the National Freight Data Hub under a creative commons licence and releases the historic data through the Catalogue.
This project contributes to our understanding of many enduring questions for freight, including:
There are significant benefits to making more customs data openly available. In particular, this kind of information can support investment planning decisions made by industry and governments.
The limitations of the data currently available mean users should exercise caution when drilling down on specifics. The Hub will continue to work with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Border Force to improve the insights and quality of data made available to industry.
More detailed data will assist both governments and industry in prioritising infrastructure investments as well as targeting regulation and policy changes to support efficient port and airport operations.
Container ports perform domestic origin and destination supply chain studies to improve internal modelling and grow their operations. Future Australian Border Force customs data will streamline and remove duplication in the data collection and preparation effort that goes into this modelling, and reduce the cost of performing these studies as well as better inform timing of, and increase certainty for, investment decisions. The Hub will work closely with stakeholders in government and industry to understand the confidentiality responsibilities and limitations of the data while aiming to improve the data available for decision makers.
Customs data is collected by the Australian Border Force and stored in the Integrated Cargo System (ICS) database.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics receives the raw data and cleans, aggregates and ensures the confidentiality of certain data before publishing aggregate monthly estimates of international merchandise trade in the International Trade in Goods and Services publication.
The International merchandise trade statistics are important statistics as measures of the nature, quantity and value of trade between Australia and the rest of the world. They are an important data source for other statistics produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, such as the balance of payments, the national accounts, and the international trade price indexes.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also restricts release of statistics for certain commodities in order to prevent the identification of the activities of an individual business, where this is requested by the business concerned. These restrictions do not affect the total national value of exports and imports, but they can affect statistics at the country, port and commodity levels, and other details.
More information on the Australian Bureau of Statistics methodology for making edits and ensuring confidentiality can be found in publication International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods on the Data sources and compilation methods (section 4.22 to 4.27) and the Confidential Commodities List.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications receives quarterly and monthly updates of the data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics under a creative commons licence.
Further information on the limitations of the data can be found on the Australian Bureau of Statistics International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2018.