Report of 48th session of the UN Statistical Commission (2017) on the item 4 (h) of International Trade and Economic Globalization Statistics

The report provides information on progress made by Expert Group on International Trade and Economic Globalization Statistics – EG-ITEGS – (established in 2016) to prepare a handbook on a system of extended national accounts and integrated business statistics. The handbook deals with measurement of interconnectedness of economies by properly accounting for global value chains (GVC) while maintaining the perspective of the national statistical system. Both the GVC perspective and the perspective of the national data compiler are fundamental in understanding the construction of this handbook. The GVC approach also promotes a global enterprise perspective and builds on the integrated collection of business statistics from large enterprises for a selected set of GVC related economic activities, including trade in intermediate goods and services, and foreign direct investments, especially of the large multi-national enterprises. In addition to promoting the integration of business, trade and investment statistics at the micro-economic level – nationally and between the main economic partner countries – inter-country supply and use tables (SUTs), as well as intercountry input-output tables (IOTs), can help to chart and understand relations at a macro-economic level. To properly and correctly measure the cross-border statistics some data sharing with important economic partner countries may be necessary.

The preparation of the handbook will be driven by an editorial board, which includes the Editor of the handbook, the Chair of the Expert Group and, as secretariat, the Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the Secretariat. The first drafts of chapters are due to be submitted by April 2017. However, some of the chapters will rely in part on new research or the synthesis and review of a large volume of new material. For those chapters, partial drafts or annotated outlines are due to be submitted by April 2017 and complete drafts by June 2017. Revised drafts should be available for broader review by the end of 2017, and a final draft of the handbook is expected to be presented to the forthcoming EG meeting in March 2018.

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Report of 48th session of the UN Statistical Commission (2017) on the item 3 (d) of Big Data for Official Statistics

The report of the Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics aims to provide information on the progress made by the group together with ideas and proposals for future work. The report presents a proposal for a global platform with brings together all the initiatives at the national and regional level (by both public and private agencies) and for furthering the use of Big Data as alternative data sources for official statistics.

In 2016, the GWG held its third Global Conference on Big Data in Dublin, it formulated a proposal for a Global Platform as a collaboration on data, services and applications and it concluded on bringing access to proprietary data within the overall review of the quality framework for official statistics. It also made progress on other issues, such as collaboration in pilot projects in the UNECE Sandbox, the development of a number of handbooks on the use of satellite data, mobile phone data and social media data, and the upgrade of its website, including the availability of the inventory of Big Data projects. Details of the progress of the various task teams in their specific areas of work are provided in the Report. The summary of the main outcomes of the third Global Conference, the proposal for the global platform and the recommendations for the access to proprietary data are also discussed in subsequent sections of the Report.

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Report of 48th session of the UN Statistical Commission (2017) on the item 3 (m) of Business Register

The report summarizes recent developments of the Wiesbaden Group on Business Registers, as presented at its last meeting held in Tokyo in November 2016. In this report the Wiesbaden group further proposes to develop international guidelines on statistical business registers building on the 2016 UNECE guidelines and by incorporating circumstances of developing countries through review and global consultation. Furthermore, the report makes a proposal to amend Terms of Reference of the Wiesbaden Group in order to better address needs and interest of countries with less developed statistical systems.

The Wiesbaden Group on Business Registers is a city group under the United Nations Statistical Commission. In the spirit of the United Nations (UN) city groups it relies mainly on the active engagement of the participating delegates. The Group provides a forum to exchange views and experiences regarding the development, maintenance and use of statistical business registers (SBRs). It discusses conceptual and methodological issues in relation to SBRs and the development and implementation of good practices in the production of SBRs. The Wiesbaden Group supports the development of SBRs for economic statistics by discussing and developing the role of the SBR in data collection and data integration as well as in the production and dissemination of statistics.

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HS 2017 correlation/conversion tables
May 2017

In May 2017, UNSD completed the work on HS 2017 correlation/conversion tables to earlier HS editions, SITC revisions and BEC4; and made them available on the UNSD website. The correlation tables were derived from WCO Table I and II Correlation Tables of HS 2012 and HS 2017 in conjunction with existing correlations tables between HS 2012 and other HS editions, SITC revisions and BEC 4. The correlations consist of complete set of relationships: 1:1, 1:N, N:1 and N:N.

The conversion methodology developed by UNSD aims to flatten those relationships into 1:1 and N:1 so that it is possible to convert HS 2017 data into other classifications with a simple aggregation. These conversion tables are provided for users’ convenience; however, users are free to use different methodology according to their own criteria. The detailed revised conversion methodology is available at the same website below.

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BEC5-HS 2017 correlation tables
2017 update

The fifth revision of BEC was endorsed by UN Statistical Commission in 2016. Furthermore, it is recommended to be used as an international statistical classification and be included in the International Family of Statistical Classifications. See more about revision process at UNSD website below. With its adoption, focus has now shifted to finalizing the correspondence tables between BEC 5 and HS/ CPC/ EBOPS /ISIC. Those correspondence tables will be posted on the website of UNSD as soon as possible; starting with correlations between BEC 5 and HS 2017.

The conversion methodology developed by UNSD aims to flatten those relationships into 1:1 and N:1 so that it is possible to convert HS 2017 data into other classifications with a simple aggregation. These conversion tables are provided for users’ convenience; however, users are free to use different methodology according to their own criteria. The detailed revised conversion methodology is available at the same website below.

Related documents/links:

Expert Group on Business Statistics

UN Statistical Commission requested the creation of an Expert Group on Business Statistics on its 48th session (Decision 48/114). The group is to to prepare the guidelines for statistical business registers and give guidance on issues of business and basic economic statistics, taking into account the use of administrative data, the choice of statistical units in the context of globalization, and issues related to a large informal sector. Furthermore, UN Statitsical Commission endorsed the proposal to establish UN guidelines for statistical business registers, based on existing guidelines and taking into account the needs of countries with less developed statistical systems by incorporating practical guidance and country cases applicable to a broad range of statistical systems.

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Events & Capacity Building

UNSD Regional Workshop on IMTS data compilation and analysis
3-6 April 2017, Malé, Maldives

The regional workshop on International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS) took place from 3 to 6 April 2017 in Malé, Maldives. This workshop is a continuation of ongoing capacity development project to strengthen statistical capacity in the trade data compilation and analysis in Maldives, including implementation of IMTS 2010. The recent activity was the participation of Maldives in training workshop organized jointly by UNSD and the South Africa Customs Union, followed by a study visit to the South Africa Revenue Services in October 2016. The opening session was attended by Chief Statistician at National Bureau of Statistics and senior officials from Maldives Customs. UNSD was represented by the Chief of IMTS Section and one of his staff. About 30 statisticians, customs officers, and trade users from Maldives, South Africa and India participated in the workshop.

For more information, visit the workshop website.

Seminar on Accounting for Global Value Chains
Luxembourg, 6-8 June 2017

UNSD participated in this seminar on the preparation of the Handbook on Accounting for Global Value Chains: Extended National Accounts and Integrated Business Statistics. All members of the UN expert group on international trade and economic globalization statistics participated in this event. About 50 people participated in this meeting including representatives from national statistical offices of developing and developed countries, Eurostat, IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, WTO, and UNSD. The seminar also benefitted from the participation of experts from academia and research institutes. The main objective of the Handbook is to provide a high-level overview of how economic statistics can be made more relevant in measuring the effects of globalization in national accounts and business statistics. The Handbook will provide a national perspective on globalization based on a Global Value Chain approach for specific industries in a multi-country supply chain of goods, value adding services and institutional arrangements. Participants, including UNSD, presented draft chapters and discussed relevant measurement issues, policy considerations, remaining work to be done, and the future research agenda. UNSD also provided editorial guidelines for the authors of the Handbook and the timeline for completion of the Handbook.

For more information, visit the conference website.

Regional workshop on the compilation of Tourism Satellite Account
Manila, Philippines, 19-20 June 2017

The workshop was organized by UNSD in close collaboration with the World Tourism Organization and was hosted by the Philippine Statistics Authority. Representatives of the National Statistical Office and Ministry of Tourism from 10 developing countries from Asia and Africa and more than 30 local participants contributed to the success of the workshop. The recommended methodological framework for the Tourism Satellite Account(TSA) was presented with focus on the data sources, compilation methods and dissemination of the TSA tables, including the issues related to sustainable tourism measurement. Participants presented their TSA compilation practices and the issues and challenges they faced which would help the preparation of a Compilers Guide for TSA, an upcoming UNSD project. Participants discussed selected issues in smaller groups during the break-out sessions and actively contributed to the work. The workshop was supported by partners from Statistics Canada, Statistics Austria and Eurostat.

For more information, visit the workshop website.


Visit of Minister Dara Murphy, Ireland, to UNSD
New York, 13 January 2017

H.E. Dara Murphy, Minister of State for European Affairs, E.U. Digital Single Market and Data Protection of Ireland visited UNSD last week. He was accompanied by members of his Ministry and representatives of the Irish Permanent Mission. They were informed about current developments regarding Big Data and the community of official statistics and about SDG indicators and the corresponding inter-governmental processes.

The Statistical Commission has been active in Big Data in the last three years through its Global Working Group, which has organized a number of task teams and conferences, the most recent being an event held Dublin in August 2016. One of the task teams works specifically on access to proprietary data from sources like mobile phones and social media. These sources raise major concerns for data protection and data security. The statistical community is trying to work out appropriate regulations and effective partnerships to use these data sources to produce better statistics while maintaining public trust.

The Irish delegation was informed about the state of affairs regarding the SDG indicators and the tier system of indicators in their development. Lastly, they were informed about the efforts of the statistical community to disaggregate the indicators at sub-national level and how Big Data and administrative data can support these activities.

For more information, visit the UN GWG Big Data for Official Statistics website.

Meeting of project “MinFuture”
Trondheim, Norway, 17-19 January 2017

On 17-19 January 2017, UNSD participated in the first meeting of a two-year EU project “MinFuture” in its capacity as an Advisory Board member. Participants included 16 researchers from academia and research institutes and representatives from national geological institutes from the EU. The Advisory Board includes UNSD, academic researchers and representatives from industry associations. The impetus for the project is to ensure the supply of raw materials. The main expected outcomes are a common methodology for material flow analysis; a pilot project focusing on critical raw materials used in low-carbon technologies (e.g., wind energy technology); a methodology for forecasting global material flows and demand and supply; and recommendations on the relevant principles, barriers, and opportunities for supporting a database on global, trade-linked, multi-resource cycles. Consortium members noted that knowledge about the global material cycles is highly fragmented and varies significantly by mineral, by stage in the supply chain, or by country.

The MinFuture project includes six work packages: 1) Project management; 2) Challenges, Systems and Data; 3) Models; 4) a Pilot case study on wind energy technology; 5) Recommendations; and 6) Communication and Dissemination. UNSD will participate in the second work package, to advise on availability of international trade data; identification of data gaps; and aspects of data harmonization (i.e., between trade statistics and production data). The research and outcomes on global material cycles and material flow analysis is also closely related to work by UNSD and the Expert Group on International Trade and Economic Globalization statistics on global and regional value chains.

Meeting of the OECD Working Party on Trade in Goods and Services Statistics and OECD Workshop on Regional and Global TiVA initiatives
22-24 March 2017 and 27 March 217, Paris, France

The meeting of the Working Party was chaired by the Central Bank of France and was attended by the OECD member states plus a number of observer countries and several international organizations. Topics of discussion were trade in services statistics, Foreign Direct Investments statistics and the linking of those statistics to multi-national enterprises and their foreign affiliates. Measurement of trade arrangements in specific industries were discussed as well, such as the automotive industry in North America, the aircraft leasing in Ireland and the pharmaceutical industry in France. Costa Rica described how it captures the contract manufacturing services it provides. Further, a number of issues related to the measurement of Trade in Value-Added (TiVA) were presented at the Working Party and were treated in more detail at the subsequent workshop on the TiVA initiatives. Whereas OECD is strongly promoting the use of TiVA indicators in G20 and other ministerial meetings, some concerns and caution were raised regarding the limitations of those indicators (such as the indicator of foreign value added in exports). The Chief of the Trade Statistics Branch represented the Statistics Division and informed the meeting about the progress made on the UN Handbook on Accounting for Global Value Chains.

Working Visits to World Customs Organisations and Eurostat
Brussels and Luxembourg, 27 and 31 March 2017

Chief of International Merchandise Trade Statistics conducted working visit to World Customs Organisation and Eurostat. Both are members of Interagency Task Force on International Trade Statistics. The following topics were discussed with WCO: HS 2017 (correlations and recommended quantity units), identification of intermediate goods, mirror statistics, data analysis, and WCO data model (in relation to SDMX). Furthermore, with regards to the ongoing work to establish correlation table between HS 2007 and BEC Rev.5, as a custodian of HS, WCO agreement to be part of the technical subgroup would be beneficial. The working visit to Eurostat focused on joint work programme on the development, maintenance and training of EUROTRACE, trade data compilation software, which are used by around 90 countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, Caribbean, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

For more information, visit the Eurotrace User Community website.

Participation to the MEDSTAT IV workshop on International Merchandise Trade Statistics
Brussels, Belgium 28-30 March 2017

Under umbrella of MEDSTAT IV (Euro-Mediterranean) on Working Group on External Trade and Balance of Payment Statistics capacity building project, Chief of International Merchandise Trade Statistics attended the workshop on Methodology of International Merchandise Trade Statistics to discuss various topics notably on IMTS 2010 Concepts and Definitions and its implementation in countries. The workshop was attended by around 20 officials from Customs Administration and National Statistical Office which are part of MEDSTAT IV countries, as follows: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.

Meetings with researchers of the MinFuture project
New York, 31 March and 3 April 2017

Staff of the Trade and Economic Statistics Branches of UNSD met with researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Yale University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the EU Joint Research Center (JRC), on 31 March and 3 April to discuss the MinFuture project. This is a project commissioned by the European Commission to outline a common global approach and data structure for mapping global physical flows of critical raw materials.

The first meeting involved discussion on use of international trade within the project; gaps in existing trade data; terminology used across different disciplines involved; creating concordances between different classifications used in trade, industry, and for raw materials/metals/minerals. UNSD presented concepts and issues of interest to the MinFuture participants with respect to trade data; specifically, valuation; partner country attribution; quantity estimation in UN Comtrade; and methodological reasons for bilateral trade asymmetries. A specific topic was the process for requesting amendments to the HS system classification,which is governed by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and its Council. Amendments for the 2022 HS revision will need to be tabled already at the upcoming meeting of the HS Review Sub-Committee meeting on29 May - 2 June. The EU JRC reported that it can coordinate this request at the European level. The U.S.Geological Survey will make a similar request through the US channels.

The second meeting focused on the relation of MinFuture to the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA). It was discussed how the work of the MinFuture project could align with national accounting standards and classifications. In this regard, UNSD was invited to participate in the next meeting of the Expert Group on Resource Classification at the end of April, where the revision to the United Nations Framework Classification for Fossil Energy and Mineral Reserves and Resources (UNFC) will be discussed. UNSD briefed the MinFuture team on the work of other international organizations in this area, including OECD and UNEP. UNSD suggested that MinFuture should inform the UNCEEA Technical Committee (through UNSD), to ensure that the relevant communities working in this area are aware of developments and can coordinate on constructing a global database and data structure for raw material flows.

UNSD Brown Bag Seminar: Overview of IMF Direction of Trade Statistics
UNHQ, 25 April 2017

Mr. Marco Marini, a Senior Economist of the Real Sector Division in the IMF Statistics Department (STA), delivered a presentation titled “Overview of IMF Direction of Trade Statistics” on the Direction of Trade Statistics (DOTS) dataset. The DOTS dataset is a dataset on bilateral merchandise trade published by the IMF. The presentation provided an overview of its main features, the current challenges on data collection and estimation and future prospects. The dataset follows the latest UN standards on merchandise trade (IMTS2010). It includes bilateral trade data (merchandise only) that is collected on monthly, quarterly and annual basis. The data goes all the way back to 1960 (1947 on annual basis), covering 211 current economies—or 98% of world imports (in 2016). The presentation described the DOTS production process, including collection, estimation, validation, dissemination and the users. Shared challenges by the Trade Statistics Branch of UNSD and STA in the data collection of merchandise trade were discussed.

UNSD Brown Bag Seminar: Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics
UNHQ, 27 April 2017

Mr. Niels Ploug, Director of Social Statistics at Statistics Denmark and Chair of the Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics, delivered a presentation on the “Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics”. He discussed the structure, mandate and progress of work of the Working Group as well as his experiences working at the Danish Social Science Research Council and the Danish National Statistics Office(NSO).

Challenges faced by Statistics Denmark in addressing the evolving and increasing user demands were discussed. One of them concerns balancing the desire of users for timely and detailed data while protecting privacy. The procedure for accessing such micro data by outside users includes a filter on the data extraction mechanism that blocks the extraction of any confidential data. This procedure works well and protects public trust in the national statistical system. Statistics Denmark is gradually moving from focusing on data production to becoming a service organization.

Other topics discussed include increasing user demands, specialized data demands as a result of the SDG indicators, building partnerships in the private sector to obtain data (which is usually not mandated by law, unlike access to most of administrative data) and data quality checks (including their delegation to local administrative data collection centers). These issues are relevant to all national statistical offices and were discussed with a high level of interest.

Meeting of MinFuture Project
Vienna, Austria, 9 June 2017

UNSD participated in the second meeting of the EU project MinFuture as an advisory board member. The advisory board includes UNSD, academic researchers and representatives from industry associations. Additional researchers and representatives from academia, research institutes and EU national geological institutes also attended the meeting. The project aims to develop methodologies for analysing material flow and forecasting global material flows and supply and demand. The meeting discussed the current status of work on the project’s six work packages: project management; challenges, systems and data; models; a pilot case study on wind energy technology; recommendations; and communication and dissemination. UNSD is providing technical assistance for the second work package, advising on the availability of international trade data, identifying data gaps and harmonizing data, particularly the link between trade statistics and production data. The research on global material flow and analysis is also closely related to the work by UNSD and the Expert Group on International Trade and Economic Globalization statistics on global and regional value chains.

6th International Conference on Tourism Statistics: Measuring Sustainable Tourism
Manila, Philippines, 21-24 June 2017

The Conference was organized by the UN World Tourism Organization and attended by more than 800participants from the National Statistical Offices, Ministries of Tourism, Economy and National Banks from all over the world. The Conference was opened by the Philippines Minister of Tourism and the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization. Mr. Pali Lehohla, the Statistician-General of South Africa, and ex-chair of the United Nations Statistical Commission represented the official global statistical community in the opening segment. The Ministerial round table, with high-level representation from developing countries, including small island developing states, focused on committing to “Measuring Sustainable Tourism”, which was discussed from policy perspective as well as from measurement perspective. The sessions during the Conference discussed in detail the issues of linking economic and environmental measures, the social dimension of sustainable tourism, issues related to sub-national measurement, the tourism indicators in the SDG framework. The Conference closed with the adoption of the Manila Call for Action on Measuring Sustainable Tourism which underlines the sustainable development dimensions in the SDGs, the importance of the implementation of the UN manuals on tourism statistics and tourism satellite account, the importance of developing a statistical framework for measuring sustainable tourism and the compilation guide for the tourism satellite account and also the importance of and need for capacity building in this area.

8th Travel Workshop relating to International Trade in Services Statistics
Warsaw, Poland, 29-30 June 2017

Travel is a major component of the Balance of Payments (BOP) statistics of each country. In Warsaw, more than 40 representatives of (mostly European) national statistical offices and central banks came together for a 2-day workshop hosted by the Central Bank of Poland to discuss measurement challenges related to the travel item in BOP statistics and in statistics on international trade in services (SITS), which included data collection, methodology, bilateral asymmetries, and harmonization of compilation practices. Presentations were made on health related travel, the use of payment card data, issues related to package tours, use of big data for tourism statistics, the statistical treatment of refugees versus visitors, and the estimation of expenditure of seasonal and border workers. The Chief of SITS Section represented UNSD at the meeting and presented on the work of the UN Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics and on the drafting of the forthcoming handbook on the use of mobile phone data for official statistics.


Analytical Trade Tables (MBS Data API)

The following analytical tables on international merchandise trade statistics have been made available in long time series through newly released UN Comtrade MBS Data API. They are published in the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (MBS) and are also available online for download at: The data availability and frequency of update depend on data series which is combination of table number, frequency, type of measurement and currency. See the valid data series at

Data visualizations on the basis of UN Comtrade (2017 update)

Thanks to UN Comtrade Public API, there are more and more institutions developing advanced and innovative data visualization using Comtrade data. These data visualizations are being catalogued and made publicly available at UN Comtrade Labs. Thus, it is a place to showcase innovative and experimental uses of UN Comtrade data. Several trade data visualization initiatives have been added to Comtrade Labs in first semestre of 2017: Provided by Chatham House has been developed by Chatham House to enable users to explore the fast-evolving dynamics of international trade in natural resources, the sustainability implications of such trade, and the related interdependencies that emerge between importing and exporting countries and regions. Provided by Pankaj Ghemawat The professional website of Prof. Pankaj Ghemawat (of NYU and IESE) contains powerful tools that help users understand the connections between countries. Cartograms covering trade, capital, information, people flows and more allow users to see the world from the perspective of a particular country, industry, or company. The CAGE Comparator™ examines international flows and helps identify untapped opportunities for companies and countries. Users can create custom analyses covering 184 countries and over 100 types of international activity.

NAFTA Trade Flows Provided by Thomson Reuters Labs Which commodities have experienced the greatest increase in trade within NAFTA? Which NAFTA countries have the strongest import-export bonds between each other, and at what point in time? How much intra-NAFTA trade occurs compared to extra-NAFTA trade for a given commodity? Thomson Reuters Labs collected, analyzed and visualized UN Comtrade data to find out.

2016 International Trade Statistics Yearbook – Volume I Trade by Country - June 2017

The 2016 International Trade Statistics Yearbook: Volume I - Trade by Country was released in June 2017. The sixty-fifth edition of this publication provides an overview of the latest trends of trade in goods and services of most countries and areas in the world up to reference year 2017. The main content of the yearbook is divided into two parts. Part 1 consists of two detailed world data tables on merchandise trade. Part 2 contains the country trade profiles for most countries and areas in the world. The profiles offer an insight into the merchandise and services trade performance of individual countries and areas by means of brief descriptive text, concise data tables and charts using latest available data. This volume provides trade in analytical tables and graphs for each of 171 countries and areas. The figures provided in this publication are based on data directly reported by the countries to the UN Statistics Division. The data used in the yearbook are publicly available in the UN Comtrade database.

Download the current and past editions of International Trade Statistics Yearbook.

Meet the Trade Statistics Branch

Comings and Goings

In April 2017, Mr. Niels Ploug, Director of Social Statistics at Statistics Denmark and Chair of the Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics, worked at the Trade Statistics Branch/UNSD for three weeks. At the end of the programme, he delivered a presentation on the “Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics”. He discussed the structure, mandate and progress of work of the Working Group as well as his experiences working at the Danish Social Science Research Council and the Danish National Statistics Office(NSO).


"Newsletter" by Dennis Skley - Licensed under (CC BY-ND 2.0).