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Quality Enhancement in International Merchandise Trade Statistics Henri Laurencin Head Development Statistics and Information Branch UNCTAD CCSA: Special.

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Presentation on theme: "Quality Enhancement in International Merchandise Trade Statistics Henri Laurencin Head Development Statistics and Information Branch UNCTAD CCSA: Special."— Presentation transcript:

1 Quality Enhancement in International Merchandise Trade Statistics Henri Laurencin Head Development Statistics and Information Branch UNCTAD CCSA: Special Session on Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics Athens, Greece, 29 May 2012

2 When statistics raise questions Mail received at UNCTAD in April 2011 from UN Headquarters: Need urgent, quick assistance on question: there continues to be reluctance by the xx delegate to resolve a discrepancy between OHRLLS/UNCTAD on one side and WTO on the other concerning LDCs exports as a share of world trade. OHRLLS: UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

3 Discrepancies? Gambia: total merchandise exports ($ millions) CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

4 Prerequisite for improvement 1.Better quality of merchandise trade statistics received from national statistical systems, especially from developing countries 2.Better access of International Organizations (IOs) to national statistics by establishing effective cooperation CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

5 Ways to be followed to improve quality Agree on a definition of international merchandise trade statistics Act by: –Providing guidance to national data compilers on the collection and compilation of international merchandise trade statistics in line with agreed definitions –Building statistical capacity in countries –Sharing knowledge and statistics at the international level CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

6 TFIMTS Creation in 1992 of the Inter-Agency Task Force on International Merchandise Trade Statistics (TFIMTS) to improve international cooperation in the collection, processing and dissemination of international merchandise trade statistics. The Inter-Agency Task Force on International Merchandise Trade Statistics is convened by the WTO and gathers specialists from Eurostat, FAO, IMF, OECD, UN Statistics Division, UNCTAD and UN Regional Commissions. CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

7 Achievements of TFIMTS –Establish international standards governing the measurement of trade statistics. Publication of the International Merchandise Trade Statistics: concepts and definitions (IMTS) Manual (last version endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission in 2010); –Prepare data compilation recommendations set forth in the International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Compilers Manual + National compilation and reporting practices in IMTS; –Support the organization of workshops, seminars and trainings at the country and regional levels. CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

8 Discrepancies persist 20 years later. Why? IMF, Eurostat, OECD and UN Statistics Division are primary data compilers, thus collect data directly from different national sources (Central Bank, National Statistical Office, Ministry of Trade or Customs Department); CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics IMF BOP data (based on Balance of Payment Manual) may have different figures as the concepts are not 100% in-line with other sources data (based on IMTS Concepts and Definitions). EU Community concept is also slightly different; Methodology for estimating missing data is not fully harmonized. IMTS Concepts and Definitions recommends to include re-exports and to exclude goods in transit from official statistics. There is possible mix-up between re-exports and transit. If goods in transit are included, it inflates trade statistics. If re-exports are excluded, it minimizes trade statistics;

9 Towards a common data set Eurostat, OECD, UNSD, UNCTAD and WTO decided to joint their efforts and to reconcile their time series on merchandise trade statistics using international standards as a benchmark; They created and maintain the Common Data Set (CDS); CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics The CDS database gives access to statistics and documentation (metadata) of both officially reported and reconciled series. It covers annual total merchandise export and import values of over 200 economies for the period from 1995 to Each agency is in charge of supplying figures for a predefined set of reporting economies. Reconciliations consist of scrutinizing significant differences between the agencies' data to determine the best value. In many instances, this results in finding an agreement on substitution of values and estimates;

10 Still discrepancies exist… Gambia: total merchandise exports ($ millions) But they are better identified! CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

11 Summing up (1/3) No official statistics should be released without metadata (cf. Principles governing international statistical activities); National agencies involved in data collection on a same subject matter (ex. Central Bank, National Statistical Office and Customs on IMTS) need to synchronize their activities at the country level; International organizations involved in the collection and dissemination of statistics on a same subject matter should better coordinate (for instance to minimize reporting burden and avoid the release of contradictory statistics); CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

12 Summing up (2/3) Initiatives from IOs to create common data sets by reconciling their time series (ex. CDS of IMTS) using international standards as benchmarks should be encouraged; A Common Data Set should not be seen by IOs as a restriction to the release of their own sets: –IOs can refer to a different standard for any reason (for ex. in case of the calculation of a derived indicator) –Coordination needs time and IOs should not be prevented to release their advanced statistics CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

13 Summing up (3/3) Improved quality of statistics released by IOs and better use of resources can be assured by sharing data, information, methodology and more generally knowledge and expertise. UNCTAD and WTO are joining their efforts to fully harmonize their statistics on trade in merchandise and services; Last but not least, never forget the users of international statistics and properly assess their needs and expectations. CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics

14 Thank you for attention CCSA: Best Practice for Ensuring Quality in International Statistics


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