Country Experience: United States of America: postal and courier services (ch. 3)

3.26.        Example from the United States of America: obtaining information on goods transactions through postal and courier services. In the United States international merchandise trade statistics program, value-based exemption levels have been established to help alleviate filer burden and reduce processing costs. As goods valued below these exemption levels do not require complete filing, import and export low-value estimates are calculated each month.  Goods shipped by small package courier companies have been identified as a major component of under-coverage, especially for exports. Therefore, the United States Census Bureau developed a methodology for using a sum of courier and non-courier estimates. Data on low-value shipments provided by major courier companies upon request served as a basis for the methodology.   The proportion of low-value trade to high-value trade was developed using data from the couriers over several months, and this proportion is used as a “courier factor”.  The courier data received each month is multiplied by this factor to produce courier low-value estimates.  The courier factors can be updated as needed by requesting more recent low-valued trade data from the courier companies.