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E. Generation and dissemination of additional information: possibilities and examples

11.18.    Tables published within the TEC framework developed by Eurostat and OECD. The Trade by Enterprise Characteristics (TEC) framework defines a harmonized set of indicators describing various aspects of the structure of international trade from the viewpoint of the characteristics of enterprises. Since the aim of these indicators is to describe enterprises rather than products, the activity sector of the trader is used as the primary classification in each indicator. There are five indicators which are available both for trade flows (imports and exports) and for intra- and extra-EU trade. All indicators use the enterprise as the statistical unit and are expressed in terms of number of enterprises and trade value. The indicators are obtained by linking data on the microlevel.

Box XI.5 Indicators of trade by enterprise characteristics (TEC)

1. Trade by activity sector and enterprise size class

Trade by activity sector and enterprise size class shows the contribution of each economic activity and size class (measured in terms of number of employees) to total trade. This makes it possible, for instance, to analyse the impact of external trade on employment and to estimate the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises.

2. Concentration of trade by activity

External trade is typically concentrated on a few enterprises. This indicator shows how much of the total trade is accounted for by the top 5, 10, 20, etc., enterprises.

3. Trade by partner countries and activity

Trade by partner countries shows how many enterprises were trading with certain partner countries or country zones, and the trade value they accounted for. This makes it possible to identify most typical exports or imports markets.

4. Trade by number of partner countries and activity

Number of partner countries shows how geographically diversified the exports markets are. For imports, it shows the number of countries from which goods are imported.

5. Trade by commodity and activity

Trade by commodity and activity allocates the trade of each commodity to the economic activity of the trading enterprise. This shows which sectors were involved in the trade of each product group.

11.19.    Trade by enterprise characteristics: an alternative approach. IMTS 2010 (para. 11.6) encourages countries to take steps towards establishing an integrated system of economics statistics for data compilation and analysis and to integrate their trade register with their business register. However, faced with the growing demand for information from users regarding the link between international flows of goods and national economic activity, and in the absence of a link at the microlevel, enabling the identification of companies in the customs records and industrial surveys, counties might opt for the alternative of building a macrolevel correlation table between the classifications of industries and products. Countries may find this correspondence useful when analysing trade flows by activity categories. However, the approach as described in previous examples, i.e., to identify the activity of the trader and perform appropriate aggregations, should be given preference whenever possible (see IMTS 2010, para. 3.29).

11.20.    Integrating trade information in business statistics. Business statistics contain limited information on external trade. By linking trade and business statistics, the wealth of information on the demography and activities of businesses can be supplemented with detailed trade information, allowing the analysis of the impact of trade on businesses.

11.21.    Special surveys of trading enterprises. Often, certain information, such as trade between related enterprises or goods for processing without change of ownership, cannot be derived from customs records. The link with the business registers allows the conducting of surveys of specifically identified enterprises whose aim is to obtain such information. Also, special surveys of trading enterprises could be used to explore the link between trade in goods and trade in services.

11.22.    Trade statistics as part of a geospatial information system. At its forty-first session, held in February 2010, the Statistical Commission recognized, in paragraph (b) of its decision 41/110 on global geographic information management, the importance of the integration of geographical and statistical information and the opportunities provided in that context by the swift development of information technology, noting that national statistical offices are playing an increasing role in such integration.[11] Linking trade information to the business registers allows regional analysis of trade patterns; for example, the Secretariat of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade of Brazil publishes, using the address of the enterprises, a report on trade balance by States and municipalities (see para. 11.13).[12] Linking this trade information with localized employment or tax information (e.g.., average wages, employment rate, enterprise and personal tax revenue) allows a detailed analysis of economic impact of trade.


[11] The results can be distorted if the headquarters reside elsewhere than at the location where the economic activity is carried out. Therefore, the use of the local unit would be preferable when linking trade and business statistics. However, it might be very difficult or even impossible to compile reliable business and trade information on a local unit basis.

[12] See Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 2010, Supplement No. 4 (E/2010/24), chap. I, sect. B.