United Nations Statistics Division

United Nations Statistics Division
Statistics and Statistical Methods Publications

International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Concepts and Definitions
Series: M, No.52/Rev.2 
Sales number:
Languages available:E, A, C, F, R, S
Revision: Rev.2


This publication contains updated recommendations on methodology for compiling international merchandise trade statistics adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission in March 1997. These recommendations are an essential references for trade statistics analysis and understanding. They take into account new developments in international trade, national practices of data compilation, new international agreements regarding customs procedures, and previously adopted revisions of methodology of national accounting and balance of payments statistics. They address basic issues such as coverage of statistics and time of recording, trade system, commodity classifications, valuation, quantity measurement, partner country, and reporting and dissemination. The publication also contains detailed lists of goods to be included and excluded from imports and exports; two tables which make it possible to determine, at a glance, how various categories of goods are treated in both the general and the special trade systems; and linkages between statistical concepts and international conventions regarding trade matters.

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