Every User of UN Comtrade should know the coverage and limitations of the data
The United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) contains detailed imports and exports statistics reported by statistical authorities of close to 200 countries or areas. It concerns annual trade data from 1962 to the most recent year. UN Comtrade is considered the most comprehensive trade database available with more than 1 billion records. A typical record is – for instance – the exports of cars from Germany to the United States in 2004 in terms of value (US dollars), weight, and supplementary quantity (number of cars). The database is continuously updated. Whenever trade data are received from the national authorities, they are standardized by the UN Statistics Division and then added to UN Comtrade.
UN Comtrade is available to the general public and should be used with good knowledge of its limitations. Please read the following points very carefully before extracting and using data:
- The values of the reported detailed commodity data do not necessarily sum up to the total trade value for a given country dataset. Due to confidentiality, countries may not report some of their detailed trade. This trade will - however - be included at the higher commodity level and in the total trade value. For instance, trade data not reported for a specific 6-digit HS code will be included in the total trade and may be included in the 2-digit HS chapter. Similar situations could occur for other commodity classifications. Detailed data processed after 1. January 2006 and published in HS will sum up to the respective totals due to the introduction of adjustment items with commodity codes 9999 and 999999.
- Countries (or areas) do not necessarily report their trade statistics for each and every year. This means that aggregations of data into groups of countries may involve countries with no reported data for a specific year. UN Comtrade does not contain estimates for missing data. Therefore, the trade of a country group could be understated due to the unavailability of some country data.
- Data are made available in several commodity classifications, but not all countries necessarily report in the most recent commodity classification. Again, UN Comtrade does not contain estimates for data of countries that do not report in the most recent classification.
- When data are converted from a more recent to an older classification it may occur that some of the converted commodity codes contain more (or less) products than what is implied by the official commodity heading. No adjustments are made for these cases.
- Imports reported by one country do not coincide with exports reported by its trading partner. Differences are due to various factors including valuation (imports CIF, exports FOB), differences in inclusions/ exclusions of particular commodities, timing etc. The recommendations for international merchandise trade statistics can be found in the International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Compilers Manual ). Additional methodological information can be found on the same web page.
- Almost all countries report as partner country for imports the country of origin which is determined by the rules of origin established by each country (see International Merchandise Trade Statistics, Concepts and Definitions, Rev.2, para. 139 and 140). Hence, the term ‘partner country’ in the case of imports does not necessarily imply any direct trading relationship.
General UN disclaimer
The designations employed and the presentation of material on UN Comtrade do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitations of its frontiers or boundaries. Where the designation “country or area” appears on this internet site, it covers countries, territories or areas.
Before using the UN Comtrade data you should also read and agree with the License Agreement which can be found at the bottom bar of each of the web pages of the UN Comtrade site. The License Agreement specifies that the UN Comtrade data are copyrighted by the United Nations and are made available for your internal use only. They may not be re-disseminated in any form without prior written consent of the United Nations Statistics Division. Please also see the Policy on Use and Re-dissemination of UN Comtrade data for further information on re-disseminating data.