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The commodity structure of external trade flows of goods is analysed using various internationally adopted commodity classifications which have different levels of detail and are based on different classification criteria.

The complex nature of the basic customs and statistical needs makes it necessary to have a rather detailed commodity classification. The Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonised System, or HS), or extended versions based on HS, such as the Combined Nomenclature used by European Union countries, provide such details. Classification using these nomenclatures is based on the nature of the commodity.

However, for analytical purposes, such a division of products is not the most appropriate. Commodity categories more suitable for economic analysis provided by the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) which classifies commodities according to their stage of production.

The HS is in principle, revised every few years. The next revision is planned to come into force on 1 January 2002. It is managed by the World Customs Organisation.

Source Publication:
International Merchandise Trade Statistics, Concepts and Definitions, United Nations, New York, 1998, Studies in Methods, Series M, No. 52, Rev. 2, page 35, para. 92

Classification Indicator: Classification

Statistical Theme: Classifications

Created on Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Last updated on Saturday, March 16, 2002