strsubcodechain International Trade - Data and Methods
Sources and Definitions
Search OECD Statistics
    Sources, Definitions       & Public Data (Home)
    Business Cycle 
      Analysis Database
    Key Economic
    Real-Time &       Revisions Database
    MEI Home
    Contact Us
[Download Public Data][Version française] | [Printable Version]
Subjects > International Trade

|Australia | Austria | Belgium | Brazil | Canada | Chile | China | Colombia | Costa Rica | Czech Republic | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Iceland | India | Indonesia | Ireland | Israel | Italy | Japan | Korea | Luxembourg | Mexico | Netherlands | New Zealand | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Russian Federation | Slovak Republic | Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | Turkey | United Kingdom | United States | OECD - Total | Major Seven | OECD - Europe | Euro Area | European Union | World |

Subject: Foreign Trade

Direct source
Generally, national statistical institutes are the source for data. It should be noted that for euro area EU member states, the source is Eurostat.

Source Periodicity
When not provided by countries, annual and quarterly data are sum of monthly values.

Contact person
OECD statistics contact:

Key statistical concept
The published international trade data show seasonally adjusted imports and exports data in billions of US dollars. Imports consist of: (i) imports for direct domestic consumption; (ii) withdrawals from bonded warehouses and free zones for domestic consumption (special trade only); and (iii) imports into bonded warehouses and free zones (general trade only).

Exports consist of: (i) exports of national products; (ii) exports without transformation of goods which had already been counted as special imports; and (iii) exports from bonded warehouses or free zones of goods which have not been transformed since import (general trade only).

Recommended uses and limitations
In all OECD countries statistics on imports and exports of goods (merchandise trade) are regarded as among the most important economic statistics. The primary uses of short-term merchandise trade statistics are:
as a short-term economic indicator;
as an input to the compilation of import or export components of various price indices; and
as an input to the compilation of balance of payments statistics and national accounts.

In addition to the above, merchandise trade statistics are an important input to the development of trade policy, including fiscal, monetary, structural and sectoral issues.

For instance,
Customs duties collected on imports are a major source of government revenue.
Foreign trade statistics provide important market information for the business sector. At the detailed level, they can be used to identify the types of products that are presently being imported but which could be produced domestically; to help importers identify sources of supply; and to help exporters find new foreign markets.
Foreign demand for a country's exports may have a significant impact on domestic incomes. Levels and changes in exports are thus an important indicator of earnings, tax revenues and living standards.
To operate their exchange rate policies, governments need to know the levels and trends of imports and exports because exchange rates are determined by the demand for different currencies, a large part of which comes from the demand for exports and imports.

OECD countries in the main follow the United Nations "International Merchandise Trade Statistics Manual 2010" quite closely. As their economies are closely linked through trade flows, it is in their interests to use the same definitions and standards for trade statistics. However, there may be practical difficulties relating to the recording of trade in military goods and the valuation of trade between related enterprises.