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United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database |  Statistics Division

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Term List
Total terms defined : 19
TermDescription
Commodity ClassificationThe complex nature of the basic customs and statistical needs makes it necessary to have a rather detailed commodity classification. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System, or HS), or extended versions based on HS, such as the Combined Nomenclature used by the countries that are members of the European Union provide such details. Classification using these nomenclatures is based on the nature of the commodity. However, for analytical purposes, such a division of products is not the most appropriate. Commodity categories more suitable for economic analysis are provided by the Standard International Trade Classification, Revision 3 (SITC, Rev.3), which classifies commodities according to their stage of production.
Conversion of data from one classification to anotherA correlation between two classifications (e.g., A and B) is a description of the relationship between the scope of their headings. That relationship can be established by means of two tables: the table correlating headings of A to B and the table correlating headings of B to A. Each table defines the scope of the headings of one classification in terms of the scope of the headings of the other. If the scope of a given heading of classification A coincides with the scope of a single heading of classification B (a “one-to-one” relationship), the correlation of that heading to classification B is definite. If the scope of a given heading of classification A is distributed among several headings of classification B (a “one-to-many” relationship) the correlation of that heading to classification B is split. Correlation tables usually contain both definite and split correlations.

While various users of classifications often prepare correlation tables for their own internal purposes, official versions are generally issued by the organization which maintains one or both of the classifications involved. Whenever successive versions of the same classification are produced, a correlation table between the headings of the revised and original versions is issued. A reverse table, showing the correlation between headings of the original and revised versions, is also frequently produced. Correlation tables enable users to express data in various versions of a classification in order to obtain a continuous time series. However, if the scope of a heading of one version is split between several headings of the other version an exact correlation becomes impossible and there is a discontinuity in the corresponding statistical series. For data processing purposes it is often desirable to substitute a split correlation by an approximate, but one-to-one correlation. Such approximations are warranted if the scope of the correlated headings is quite similar. However, differences in scope between certain basic headings may be so great that no meaningful one-to-one correlation is possible at that level. In such a case, a correlation can only be established between basic headings of one version and the higher level headings of the other version.
Date of recordingThe IMTS recommends that goods be included at the time when they enter or leave the economic territory of a country. In the case of customs-based data-collection systems, which provide the compiler with a choice of dates at which transactions may be recorded, consistency strongly suggests that a single date be adopted for all transactions. It is recommended that the time of recording be the date of lodgement of the customs declaration since that would provide an approximation of the time of crossing the border of the economic territory of a country.
ExportsIn the case of the general trade system, export flows come from: (1)  The free circulation area, premises for inward processing or industrial free zones; (2)  Premises for customs warehousing or commercial free zones. There are three types of exports: (a)  Domestic goods originating in the free circulation area or in industrial free zones; (b)  Domestic goods comprised of compensating products after inward processing; (c)  Foreign goods in the same state as previously imported. In the case of the special trade system under the relaxed definition, the export flows come only from the free circulation area, premises for inward processing or industrial free zones. There are three types of exports: (a) Domestic goods originating in the free circulation area or industrial free zones; (b) Domestic goods comprised of compensating products after inward processing; (c) Foreign goods in the same state as previously imported. There are two possible destinations: (1) The rest of the world; (2) Premises for customs warehousing or commercial free zones.
General trade systemThe general trade system is in use when the statistical territory of a country coincides with its economic territory. Consequently, under the general trade system, imports include all goods entering the economic territory of a compiling country and exports include all goods leaving the economic territory of a compiling country
Goods to be includedBesides the goods which are normally imported and exported, special attention is drawn to the following cases, in which goods are recommended to be included in the detailed international merchandise trade statistics. Non-monetary gold; Unissued banknotes and securities, and coins not in circulation; Goods traded in accordance with barter agreements; Goods traded on government account; Food and other humanitarian aid; Goods for military use; Goods acquired by traveler; Goods on consignment; Goods used as carriers of information and software; Goods for processing; Goods involved in affiliated trade; Returned goods; Electricity, gas and water; Goods dispatched through postal services; Migrants' effects; Goods transferred from or to a buffer stock organization; Goods under financial lease; Ships, aircraft and other mobile equipment; Goods to or from offshore installations; Trade on high seas; Bunkers, stores, ballast and dunnage; Empty bottles; Waste and scrap.
Harmonized SystemThe Harmonized System (officially Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System) was adopted by the Customs Co-operation Council in June 1983, and the International Convention on the Harmonized System (HS Convention) entered into force on 1 January 1988 (HS88). In accordance with the preamble to the HS Convention, which recognized the importance of ensuring that HS be kept up to date in the light of changes in technology or in patterns of international trade, HS is regularly reviewed and revised. The headings and subheadings of HS are accompanied by interpretative rules, and section, chapter and subheading notes, which form an integral part of HS and are designed to facilitate classification decisions in general and to clarify the scope of the particular headings or subheadings. It is recommended that countries use HS for the collection, compilation and dissemination of international merchandise trade statistics
HS1996HS1996 stands for the 1996 revision of the Harmonized System. HS1996 contains 5,113 subheadings and 1,241 headings, grouped into 97 chapters and 21 sections. As a general rule, goods are arranged in order of their degree of manufacture: raw materials, unworked products, semi-finished products and finished products. For example, live animals fall under Chapter 1, animal hides and skins under Chapter 41 and leather footwear under Chapter 64. The same order also exists within the chapters and headings
ImportsIn the case of the general trade system, import flows come from the rest of the world or from customs transit, i.e., goods redirected from customs transit to remain in the economic territory. There are three types of imports: (a)  Foreign goods (other than compensating products after outward processing); (b)  Foreign goods comprised of compensating products after outward processing; (c)  Domestic goods in the same state as previously exported. (so-called re-imports). These imports are brought into: (1)  The free circulation area, premises for inward processing or industrial free zones; (2)  Premises for customs warehousing or commercial free zones. In the case of the special trade system, under the relaxed definition, the import flows come from: (1) The rest of the world or from customs transit; (2) Premises for customs warehousing or commercial free zones. There are three types of imports: (a) Foreign goods (other than compensating products after outward processing); (b) Foreign goods comprised of compensating products after outward processing; (c) Domestic goods in the same state as previously exported. The goods are imported into free circulation.
Quantity Unit Reference0:Not reported
1:No Quantity (all quantities zero, standard if 0-3 digits)
2:Area in square meters
3:Electrical energy in thousands of kilowatt-hours
4:Length in meters
5:Number of items
6:Number of pairs
7:Volume in litres
8:Weight in kilograms
9:Thousands of items
10:Number of packages
11:Dozens of items
12:Volume in cubic meters
13:Weight in carats
Re-exportsRe-exports are exports of foreign goods in the same state as previously imported; they are to be included in the country exports. They are also recommended to be recorded separately for analytical purposes, which may require the use of supplementary sources of information in order to determine the origin of re-exports, i.e., to determine that the goods in question are indeed re-exports rather than the export of goods that have acquired domestic origin through processing.
Re-importsRe-imports are goods imported in the same state as previously exported; they are to be included in the country imports. They are also recommended to be recorded separately for analytical purposes, which may require the use of supplementary sources of information in order to determine the origin of re-imports, i.e., to determine that the goods in question are indeed re-imports rather than the import of goods that have acquired foreign origin through processing.
SITC Rev.3SITC Rev.3 stands for Standard International Trade Classification, Revision 3. The Statistical Commission, at its twenty-first session (12 - 21 January 1981), took note of the fact that a third revision of SITC would have to be made available when the Harmonized System came into force. Employing the subheadings of the original Harmonized System (see HS1992) as building blocks, the United Nations Statistics Division produced SITC Rev.3, taking account of the need for continuity with the previous versions of SITC. SITC Rev.3 contains 3,118 basic headings and subheadings, which are assembled in 261 groups, 67 divisions and 10 sections.
Special trade systemThe special trade system is in use when the statistical territory comprises only a particular part of the economic territory. The special trade system (strict definition) is in use when the statistical territory comprises only the free circulation area, that is, the part within which goods "may be disposed of without customs restriction". Consequently, in such a case, imports include all goods entering the free circulation area of a compiling country, which means cleared through customs for home use, and exports include all goods leaving the free circulation area of a compiling country. However, under the strict definition, goods imported for inward processing and goods which enter or leave an industrial free zone would not be recorded since they would not have been cleared through customs for home use. The compensating products after inward processing also would not be included in exports. Examples of these are when crude petroleum is brought into a country for refining under the inward processing procedure or when non-ferrous base metals are imported and smelted under the same procedure, and the resulting products are exported. From an economic standpoint, however, this kind of industrial activity does not differ from similar activities elsewhere in the economy. For this reason, it is recommended to include such activity in the record of special trade statistics. When this recommendation is applied, a "relaxed" definition of the special trade system is in use; i.e., the special trade system (relaxed definition) is in use when (a) goods that enter a country for or leave it after inward processing and (b) goods that enter or leave an industrial free zone are also recorded and included in international merchandise trade statistics.
Statistical territoryIn international merchandise trade statistics, the objective is to record goods entering and leaving the economic territory of a country. In practice, what is recorded is goods that enter or leave the statistical territory, which is the territory with respect to which data are being collected. The statistical territory may coincide with the economic territory of a country or with some part of it. It follows that when the statistical territory of a country and its economic territory differ, international merchandise trade statistics do not provide a complete record of inward and outward flows of goods.
Trade systemsThere are two trade systems in common use by which international merchandise trade statistics are compiled: the general trade system and the special trade system. Two definitions of the special trade system are considered below: the strict definition and the relaxed definition
Unit of Trade Value and Net weightThe unit of Trade Value is US$, Net weight is kilogram (kg).
ValuationIt is recommended that values for Imports are recorded as a CIF-type value, and values for Exports as a FOB-type value. CIF-type values include the transaction value of the goods, the value of services performed to deliver goods to the border of the exporting country and the value of the services performed to deliver the goods from the border of the exporting country to the border of the importing country. FOB-type values include the transaction value of the goods and the value of services performed to deliver goods to the border of the exporting country.
YearYear refers to the calendar year from 1 January to 31 December. If a reporter uses a different base for the year, this would be reflected in the meta-data. Please see Date of recording for more precise information regarding the recording of transactions.