Report of 47th session of the UN Statistical Commission (2016) on the item 4 (f) of International Trade and Economic Globalization

The report provides information on progress made by Expert Group on International Trade and Economic Globalization Statistics – EG-ITEGS – (established in 2015) 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.

In 2016, the Expert Group has met twice (January and November) in New York to further the progress of drafting the handbook (see the report and related documents at the links below). 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 the United Nations Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNSD) as secretariat. First drafts of chapters are due 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 by April 2017, with complete drafts by June 2017. Revised drafts should be available for broader review by the end of September 2016 and a white paper edition of the handbook is expected to be submitted to the Commission in March 2018.

Related documents/links:

Report of 47th session of the UN Statistical Commission (2016) on the item 3 (c) 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.

Related documents/links:

Harmonized System 2017

Amendments to Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which have been accepted as result of the Customs Co-operation Council Recommendation of 27 June 2014 and 11 June 2015, will enter into force on 1 January 2017 and 1 January 2018, respectively. The complementary amendments (of 11 June 2015) is to take into account of the necessary corrections and some further amendments in respect to heading 44.01 and certain subheadings of Chapter 44, inadvertently omitted from the Council Recommendation of 27 June 2014. The HS Contracting Parties are, however, encouraged to apply these amendments from 1 January 2017.

The recommendations include 242 sets of amendments in various sectors as follows: agricultural, chemical, wood, textile, base metal, machinery, transport and other sectors. The amendments were not only motivated by changes in technology (i.e., addition of heading for light-emitting diode (LED) lamps) or patterns of international (i.e., deleting of some subheadings due to low trade volume) trade but also to clarify certain texts to render them more consistent with scientific or customary terminology of with trade practice. More detailed information with regard to the amendments is available from WCO website.

Related documents/links:

Events & Capacity Building

Third International Conference on Big Data for Official Statistics
Dublin, Ireland, 30 August – 1 September 2016

Mr. Eoghan Murphy, Irish Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement, opened the conference followed by a statement of Mr. Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of UNECE, and a well-received video message of ASG Lenni Montiel. The 3-day event (organized by UNSD, CSO Ireland and ABS Australia on behalf of the UN Global Working Group on Big Data) was attended by about 200 persons from the statistical community, private sector and academia, among whom a considerable number of Chief or Deputy-Chief Statisticians. The theme of Public-Private Partnerships to achieve tangible and timely results in using Big Data for official statistics, and especially for compilation of SDG indicators, was perceived as attainable and as a real objective for the near future. This sentiment was fed by examples both from the private sector side, as well as from the side of the statistical community. The speakers at this conference supported the proposal for a global platform, on which public and private sector will work together in full partnerships to provide trusted data, services and applications for official statistics and policy data more broadly. At the time when this proposal will be submitted for the upcoming session of the Statistical Commission in March 2017, it will clarify the governance structure, the customer base and the financial approach of the platform. After three years the Australian Bureau of Statistics steps down as chair of the global working group and is succeeded by Statistics Denmark for a 2-year term.

For more information, visit the conference website.

Regional Workshop on International Trade Statistics
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 26 – 29 September 2016

UNSD, in cooperation with UNDP Turkmenistan, organized the workshop which was hosted by the State Statistical Committee of Turkmenistan. The workshop was attended by more than 40 national country experts from Central Asia region, China, India and Iran. The objective of the workshop is to improve the understanding of international recommendations on international merchandise trade statistics and on international trade in services statistics, to share hands-on experiences in data acquisition, data compilation strategies, data quality framework and data analysis and dissemination among trade statistics compilers. Furthermore, the discussion touched upon the improvement of data access and flow within national statistical systems with better coordination and cooperation among data providers and compilers. Chief of Statistics of International Trade in Services Section and chief of International Merchandize Trade Statistics Section attended at the workshop as resource persons and subject matter experts, and had bilateral meeting with President of State Statistical Committee of Turkmenistan and her staff and also representatives of UNDP Turkmenistan.

For more information, visit the conference website.

Participation in SACU trade workshop followed by Study Visit to South Africa Revenue Services (SARS)
Johannesburg, South Africa, 3-5 October 2016
Pretoria, 6-7 October 2016

To improve understanding of IMTS 2010 Concepts and Definitions, and to work further on the production of quality report, Maldives Customs attended (three people) SACU IMTS workshop in Johannesburg from 3-5 October 2016. The workshop was focused on the refresher course on IMTS 2010 and development of data quality report. The main theme was the discussion on indicators of quality and producing quality report regularly. UNSD was actively contributing to the design of the workshop, and the Chief of IMTS section attended the workshop as resource person.

In addition, to take advantage of on-going technical assistance provided to SARS in the area of International Merchandise Trade Statistics (since 2014), the proximity between the venue of the workshop and SARS office, and both are Customs Administration, Maldives Customs conducted technical visit to SARS. The aims of the visit were to share experiences in the modernization of trade statistics including reviewing the design of the Customs Procedure Codes, ensuring the compliance of scope and coverage, and the tools used. Furthermore, on 7 October 2016, the participants attended trade statistics seminar hosted by Statistics South Africa.

Impact and Measurement of Economic Globalization
New York, 29 November 2016

This event was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Ireland and organized by the Statistics Division. Ambassador Donoghue opened this session with a statement, which pictured Ireland as an open economy which has benefitted over the years from globalization, and especially from the open market of the EU. The Director of UNSD also made a statement which showed clear support for the statistical office of Ireland in being steadfast in its presentation of the surprising revision of the 2015 GDP figures which took place earlier this year. Economists did not like the large shift, but CSO Ireland was strictly applying the rules, as internationally agreed. The impact of globalization was very evident in this shift of the Irish GDP. The event contained further two panel discussions, one on the Policy perspective on economic globalization, in which the Conference Board and the World Bank gave their views, and one on the Measurement perspective, in which the Irish Director of National Accounts, the former Director of US BEA and an MIT researcher discussed new developments in providing statistics to measure global value chain participation. About 70 people attended this event.

2nd Meeting of the Expert Group on international trade and economic globalization statistics
New York, 30 November and 1 December 2016

The second meeting of the expert group on international trade and economic globalization statistics took place in retreat format on Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December in Armonk, NY. The Statistical Commission had requested advice on new ways to measure economic globalization and new ways of measuring trade relations. The expert group is in the process of preparing a Handbook which takes on the global value chain (GVC) approach and a national data compiler's perspective to deliver more policy relevant statistics. The world's leading experts on GVC theory participated in the retreat together with national accountants and business statisticians. UNSD was strongly represented in this meeting with staff from the Economic Statistics and the Trade Statistics Branches. UNSD is guiding this multi-disciplinary group to foster mutual understanding of the policy and measurement issues. The discussions should result in a handbook, which will account for GVCs on the basis of a system of extended national accounts and integrated business statistics. Automotive and apparel GVCs were used as examples, which will be further worked out in the context of the North American motor vehicle industry, as well as in the emerging automotive industry in Morocco and South Africa. The apparel industry will be studied in more detail in Vietnam and in China. World Bank experts were present and will support these projects as well. Preliminary results from these case studies and draft chapters will be presented at the next meeting in June 2017 in Luxembourg.

For more information, visit the conference website.


UNSD Brown Bag Seminar: Going from EGR to GGR: Developing a global register of enterprise groups
New York, 22 September 2016

As part of the staff exchange programme between UNSD and Eurostat, a staff member of Eurostat, who is currently visiting UNSD, made a presentation on the EuroGroups Register (EGR) project and the lessons which can be learned from it in order to build a Global Group Register (GGR). The EGR is a statistical business register which focusses on multinational enterprise groups with at least one unit inside the area comprised by the European Statistical System. The project started in 2003 with some pilots, reached a first milestone in 2008 when regulation was passed in the EU and is now reaching maturity. GGR, which is a project which has recently been undertaken jointly by UNSD and Eurostat, will attempt to establish a similar register to EGR but expanding its scope to the whole world and therefore facing a different set of constraints. The presenter shared some reflections on the GGR project based on the EGR experience. For instance, the EGR started by using commercial data but has now moved to using data provided by NSOs and, similarly, GGR could start by using public or commercial data. Other topics such as confidentiality implications, the relationship of EGR and FATS (foreign affiliates statistics) and GLEIS (Global Legal Entity Identifier System) were also discussed during the presentation.

Regional Workshop on Business Registers for the Arab Countries
Amman, Jordan, 26-29 September 2016

UNESCWA, together with the Arab Institute for Training and Research in Statistics, organized a regional workshop on statistical business registers (SBRs). Sudan, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia and multiple government agencies of Jordan were present. Malaysia, France, UNIDO and UNSD were supporting this capacity-building effort aimed on the better use of administrative data for maintaining a high-quality SBR. UNSD was represented by the Chief of the Trade Statistics Branch, who provided input on the coverage and roles of the SBR, the importance of the SBR for the modernisation of statistical production and for integrated economic statistics, and in particular the link between the business register and trade statistics. The workshop extensively used the recently published UNECE guidelines on statistical business registers and will give feedback on how those guidelines could be improved in view of the needs and circumstances of developing countries. These guidelines will be brought to the UN Statistical Commission in 2017 with the request to adapt them into international recommendations.

Working Visit of UNESCWA and UNSD with Department of Statistics of Jordan
Amman, Jordan, 25 September 2016

At his request, the Director General of the Department of Statistics of Jordan met with UNESCWA, UNSD (represented by the Chief of the Trade Statistics Branch) and an expert of the national statistical office of Tunisia to discuss technical assistance regarding the improvement of the statistical business register (SBR) of Jordan. South-South cooperation was proposed as the project model, in which Tunisia would share its experience of the recent updating of its system for SBR. Italy will have an advisory role. UNESCWA and UNSD will support by facilitating the working visits between Jordan and Tunisia. The project will run from 2016 to 2018.

Meeting of the Inter-agency Task Force on International Trade Statistics
New York, United States, 10-11 October 2016

This Task Force is co-chaired by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and OECD, and consists further of Eurostat, FAO, UNCTAD, IMF, ITC, WCO and UNSD, and this year UPU and ASEAN also joined. US BEA, the Bundesbank and the Banco d'Italia are participating as experts.

Balancing bilateral trade statistics (in goods and in services) is high on the agenda of this group. The reason is that the construction of inter-country Supply and Use Tables requires balanced trade among countries. Such SUTs tables are the starting point for the calculation of the Trade in Value Added estimates. OECD attaches high political importance to these TiVA estimates (for G-20 purposes). UNSD attaches great importance to guarding the methodological soundness of the work by cautioning against artificially adjusting trade statistics in efforts to force balanced bilateral trade, and by providing a worldwide repository of metadata on international trade statistics. UNSD also underlined the responsibility of the international agencies to explain the trade statistics and its uses to their constituents. Economists of UNCTAD recently had to be reminded about the correct interpretation of bilateral trade statistics, but the same holds for interactions with the economists at WTO, OECD, IMF, ITC and FAO.

For more information, visit the TF-ITS website.

Workshop of the European Statistical System on Big Data for official statistics
Ljubljana, Slovenia, 13-14 Oct 2016

The workshop was attended by about 90 people, mostly statisticians and IT specialists of about 24 EU member states, but including also participants from private sector and academia. UNSD was represented by the IT manager of the UN Comtrade database. The main objective of the workshop was finding solutions to enter Big Data into the production of official statistics at EU level and overcome the challenges of legal, ethical, and privacy issues and required skills in achieving it. Pilot projects were presented such as on the use of smart meters, Automatic Vessel Identification system, or mobile phone data. The importance of collaboration of EU with global partners such as UNSD was highlighted. The UNSD representative also met the IT staff of NSO Slovenia discussion their pilot project on web scraping of job vacancies for employment statistics, and met with members of the faculty of computer science at the University of Slovenia discussing machine learning tools developed for their pilot projects and for Big Data analytics.

For more information, visit the event website.

Expert Group Meeting on Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange
Aguascalientes, Mexico, 17-20 October 2016

The meeting was hosted by the Mexican national statistical office (INEGI). Around 70 people participated, 45 from countries and 25 from various international organizations such as World Bank, OECD, ECB, AFDB, IMF, ILO, Eurostat, UNICEF, UNDP and UNSD. The event consisted of a coordination meeting and a capacity building training session, which covered how to implement an SDMX architecture for reporting and dissemination for statisticians and IT staff. The focus was otherwise on the further development of SDMX standards and SDMX content-oriented guidelines. The UNSD staff met with INEGI's IT team to discuss the cooperation in a SDMX pilot project to implement the standards in Mexico, especially for the dissemination of trade statistics.

For more information, visit the event website.

Workshop on Working Towards APEC Trade in Value Added (TiVA) Database
Bangkok, Thailand, 17 - 21 October 2016

A staff member from the National Accounts Section represented the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) as a resource person at the Workshop on Working Towards the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade in Value Added (TiVA) Database: Building a Strategic Framework and Action Plan for the Measurement of APEC TiVA under Global Value Chains (GVC). The workshop was a collaborative effort of United States International Trade Commission, United States Bureau of Economic Analysis and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. It aimed to enhance the capacity of participants from APEC economies to produce high-quality national accounts and trade statistics for constructing a TiVA database. A technical group meeting was also organized on 21 October 2016 to discuss the 2017-18 work plan on the measurement on TiVa under GVC and other future activities. The measurement of TiVA and GVCs is part of the coordinated international work programme of OECD, Eurostat, UNSD and UNECE to develop guidance on measuring the impact of globalization on economic activity. The staff member also visited the Statistics Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific on 21 October 2016 to discuss possible arrangements for the implementation of the economic pillar of the 10th tranche of the development account project.

UNWTO Meeting of the Working Group of Experts on Measuring Sustainable Tourism
Madrid, Spain, 20-21 October 2016

The first meeting of this UNWTO Working Group was attended by 45 experts from 13 countries and several regional and international organizations. It focused on measuring sustainable tourism in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. UNSD was represented by two staff members from the Trade Branch and Economics Statistics Branch. UNSD made contributions on the compilation of the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) (which is directly related to the compilation of the SDG indicators of tourism GDP and tourism jobs) and on linking the economic and environmental dimensions of tourism (bringing together the SEEA and the Tourism Satellite Accounts). UNSD urged the working group to be pragmatic and to focus on drafting a technical note on SEEA tourism to be tested in a few pilot countries.

Technical notes are relatively short documents presenting the minimum accounts, tables and data items to be compiled in support of the SEEA implementation. The work will be undertaken as part of the programme of work of the Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting and the UNWTO Committee on Statistics. The meeting also supported the development of compilation guidance for the implementation of the TSA including measurement at sub-national level. The working group also agreed to organize a side event at the time of the Statistical Commission sessions in March 2017 as part of the celebrations of the Year of Sustainable Tourism.

25th Meeting of the Wiesbaden Group on Business Registers
Tokyo, Japan, 7-11 November 2016

The 25th meeting of the Wiesbaden group was attended by about 100 experts from around 40 countries and a few international organizations. The Statistics Bureau of Japan, the current chair of the Wiesbaden group, hosted the meeting. A workshop for developing countries from Asia and the Pacific region on the maintenance of a statistical business register (SBR) was part of the meeting. It also covered the roles of SBRs, the use of administrative data, quality assessment and innovations in technology for SBRs. The meeting supported the proposal for international guidelines for SBR building on the recent work from UNECE, which will be brought to the Statistical Commission in March 2017.

The Chief of the Trade Statistics Branch presented on the topic of globalization and the profiling of large multinational enterprises. Eurostat and UNSD are collaborating in the creation of a global register for multinational enterprise groups. The Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF), an initiative of the Financial Stability Board, also presented. GLEIF will collaborate with Eurostat and UNSD on the global register.

For more information, visit the event website.

Visit of China Customs to UNSD
New York, 16 November 2016

Delegation from General Administration of Customs of China (GACC), responsible agency to compile and disseminate International Merchandise Trade Statistics, visited UNSD to discuss several issues related to methodology, data reporting and capacity building activities. Mr. Liu Xuetou, Deputy Director General of Department of Statistics, headed the delegation of five people. In his opening statement, he indicated the commitment of China Customs to comply with IMTS 2010 and to report trade data to UN Comtrade regularly. With regard to technical assistance activities, UNSD agrees to continue supporting China Customs to improve overall data quality of trade statistics notably to conduct technical country mission and joint IMTS workshop with GACC and National Bureau of Statistics in 2017. Furthermore, GACC also expressed interest to work closer with Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics in order to apply big data methodology and technology in trade data.

UNSD Brown Bag Seminar: What does UNSD do on Big Data, and what is this global platform on data, services and applications
New York, 23 November 2016

An informal presentation was made by the chiefs of UNSD’s Economic Statistics Branch and Trade Statistics Branch on the Division’s involvement in the area of Big Data. The presentation was the second in the “Briefings on UNSD’s current work programmes” series. It introduced a few examples of successful Big Data projects and presented the work of the Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics, which was created in March 2014 under the UN Statistical Commission. One of the key ideas discussed during the presentation was the need for a business model which includes revenue generating public-private partnerships in order to bridge the gap between isolated pilot projects and the mainstream use of Big Data in official statistics. In this context, the presenters discussed the ideas behind the proposal to create a Global Platform on Data, Services and Applications.

UNWTO and INRouTe workshop on Subnational Tourism Measurement (22 November) and Global Forum on Tourism Statistics (23-25 November)
Venice, Italy

The workshop was organized by UNWTO and INRouTe and hosted by the University of Ca'Foscari Venezia (CISET) and was attended by 29 representatives from national statistical offices, tourism authorities and researchers who are involved in the development of the project. During the workshop participants commented several aspects of the draft document and it was decided that UNWTO Statistics Committee will further elaborate it and will make a decision on the follow up actions in 24-25 January 2017 during its meeting.

The Global Forum on Tourism Statistics was organized by Eurostat and OECD and hosted by La Biennale di Venezia and was attended by more than 250 participants from all continents representing national statistical offices, tourism ministries and other government organizations, researchers. The Minister of Culture and Tourism of Italy, Franceschini opened the meeting via video message and Prof. Alleva, president of statistical office of Italy (ISTAT) made a keynote presentation in which he pointed out the evolving environment of official statistics in relation to Tourism. The main focus of the Forum was on the new data sources for tourism statistics, particularly the use of mobile phone data. Another session dealt with the socio-economic dimension of tourism focusing on using the measurement frame of the Tourism Satellite Account. The Forum also discussed measurement issues in the tourism, culture and creative industries and concluded with a session on measuring the sharing economy which makes a challenge of the hotel industry and also to the railroads and bus companies. A special session was assigned to discuss several aspects of tourism statistics in Italy. Altogether, there were 28 formal presentations. The Chief of International Trade in Services Section represented UNSD at both meetings, contributed to the discussions and had bilateral meetings. It was very important for UNSD that the Forum underlined the use of new data sources (mobile phone data but also cameras, web pages) and national statistical offices analysing the integration of these sources which gives a further support to the UN Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics.

Government of Canada Data Conference
Ottawa, Canada, 5 December 2016

This event was organized by the Canadian Revenue Agency in cooperation with Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada. Another dozen or so more government agencies were also represented in this one-day meeting (by invitation only) which focused on how public policy and the public at large could best benefit from the new data-rich society. About 100 people participated, including many researchers either from government institutes or academia. The Director-General of Macro-economic statistics of Statistics Canada indicated in his keynote that his office uses over 500 different administrative data sources in addition to the 200 plus business surveys to compile Canada's economic statistics. New and innovative technologies are needed to cope with this increase in available data sources. The Chief of the Trade Statistics Branch of UNSD made interventions in panels on Public-Private Partnerships for Data Services and Research and on Knowledge Management in Data Rich Environments. UNSD has been building up experience in these topics through its work on Big Data in the context of the Global Working Group on the Big Data for official statistics. The work of the global community of official statistics is evolving because of the availability of new administrative and Big Data sources, as well as new emerging technologies. New skills sets have also to be acquired. Even though many legal hurdles exist in sharing of data even among government agencies, the general view was that partnerships in data collaboration are necessary, not only for sharing of data, but also for sharing of skills and development of applications.

Visit of ECOWAS Commission staff to UNSD
New York, 5-9 December 2016

To improve statistical capacity building coordination at regional levels, the Director of Research and Statistics at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) visited UNSD with a colleague. Collaboration between agencies in the areas of environment, energy and poverty statistics led to the establishment of the ECOWAS Commission Regional Statistics Programme (RSP 2014-2018). Meetings were organized with UNSD’s substantive branches including Trade Statistics Branch. The visit shared knowledge, experiences and best practices for statistical production and dissemination at regional levels for implementing the RSP 2014-2018. The meetings also identified future areas of collaboration and support. A road map covering the main points of the discussion and agreements with UNSD was prepared by ECOWAS and shared with the Director of UNSD. Regarding international merchandise trade statistics, ECOWAS and UNSD discussed in details on how to compile informal cross border trade within ECOWAS region.

As part of the visit, the Director from ECOWAS made a presentation at a UNSD brown bag seminar on their work and modalities for resource mobilization for the implementation of the RSP 2014-2018. He spoke about the mandate, function and goals of their organization and details of the regional statistics programme. The presentation concluded with a discussion of ECOWAS’s future work plans.


Progress of UN Comtrade Upgrade Project

In 2016, UN Comtrade added trade in services data (as of reference year 2000) and data from analytical trade tables published in Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (as of reference year 1946) in the UN Comtrade API catalogue. Therefore, UN Comtrade now disseminates all data produced by Trade Statistics Branch of UN Statistics Division. All data are accessible publicly through API (

In addition, UN Comtrade API portal was created in order to assist users discovering all available APIs, including authentication and data availability APIs. The portal provides various links to Swagger application to test those APIs on the fly and to detailed documentations on how to use them. Furthermore, API error handling has been harmonised and standardised so that client applications are able to identify errors and report it to use seamlessly.

Regarding to UN Comtrade processing system, main development was completed in 2016, and now we are entering testing phase. It’s expected that beta version of trade processing system will be completed in early 2017.

Related documents/links:

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 (2016 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 2016:

A World of Oil by GSM London
A World of Oil uses UN Comtrade’s data to showcase 20 years of the global oil trade - who buys it, who supplies it, and how these relationships change over the years. See the volumes and values of oil traded between the world’s ten biggest importers and exporters for every year from 1995 to 2014.

UN Comtrade Analytics by the UN Statistics Division and OICT Unite Analytics The trade dashboard is an interactive but easy to use visualization of time-series data that reflect the very latest trade data available in UN Comtrade. In addition, to the extent possible, the data gaps were estimated and flagged accordingly. Countries’ export and import data are displayed in various visualization techniques. It can be further customized by selecting individual or multiple countries, regions and/or commodities, and year.

Trade Map by the International Trade Centre (ITC) Trade Map provides - in the form of graphs, maps and tables - indicators on export performance, international demand, alternative markets and competitive markets, as well as a directory of importing and exporting companies. The monthly, quarterly and yearly trade flows are available from the most aggregated level to the tariff line level.

2015 International Trade Statistics Yearbook – Volume II Trade by Product - December 2016

The 2015 International Trade Statistics Yearbook: Volume II - Trade by Product, provides an overview of the latest trends of trade in goods and services showing international trade for 257 individual commodities (3-digit SITC groups) and for the 11 main Extended Balance of Payments Services (EBOPS) categories. The main content of the yearbook is divided into three parts. Part 1 consists of 11 detailed world data tables on merchandise trade. Part 2 and 3 contain the commodity trade profiles and profiles of service trade, respectively. The profiles offer an insight into the trends in individual commodities and service categories by means of brief descriptive text, concise data tables and charts using latest available data. The information on commodity trade in this year’s edition of the yearbook is based on data provided by 144 countries (areas), representing 94.2% of world trade in 2015 and the information on service trade for 2014 is based on data provided by 162 countries (areas), representing 96.0% of world trade in 2014. For more detailed and latest available data, please consult UN Comtrade which are the sources of the information presented in the yearbook, and which are continuously updated.

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

Comtrade usage in 2016

In 2016, UN Comtrade attracted more than 500,000 users (compared to 200, 000 users in 2010). The users generated 20 million data requests resulting in the download of 300 billion records. This increase is mainly due to wider adoption of public and bulk data API (released in 2014 and 2015, respectively), and increase of guest download limit to 100K per data request. Not surprisingly, guest users and UN Comtrade subscribers dominate the data request and download, respectively. This is due to the fact that the subscribers of UN Comtrade have access to more powerful data API for downloading millions of records with ease. And within subscriber category, the academia/research group leads the data request and download, followed by international organization group. The trend of increasing use of UN Comtrade can be seen in the graph below.

Related documents/links:

Meet the Trade Statistics Branch

Comings and Goings

In July 2016, Daniel Buenavad joined the technical team of Trade Statistics Branch as Associate Information System Officer. He would be working on various technical projects, notably UN Comtrade upgrade. Before joining, he worked in UN Office of Information Communication Technology. We are looking forward to working with you!

In September 2016, as part of exchange programme with Eurostat, Amerigo Liotti who is head of the Business Register group at Eurostat, and has been leading the work on the Euro Groups Register (EGR) over the last five years, worked at the Trade Statistics Branch/UNSD for three weeks. At the end of the programme, he made presentation on how to develop global register of enterprise groups based on lesson learned from EGR.


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