Are Trade Statistics Asymmetric? What's The Reason?

In the case of international trade statistics, there are often inconsistencies in statistics between the two trading countries and bilateral asymmetries. What do you mean? For example, when we get trade data, we find some differences in the comparison of certain categories of products, exports of Chinese exports to the United States and imports from China. The following diagram is an example.

Statistics of Chinese exports to the United States

Statistics of U.S. imports from China

It can be seen that on the whole, US imports from China are lower than China ’s exports to the US, and the statistics between the two trading countries are asymmetric. Why does this happen?

Import and export time difference

Due to some factors, there is a time difference between import and export. For example, the import and export volume in December is relatively large. It may be that the goods you exported in December only arrived at the destination port in January, and finally the arrival statistics of the importing country here. Your part of the data may be recorded in January of the next year. Therefore, there is a time difference between import and export. In the statistics, the two are not completely synchronized and equivalent.

Commodity classification differences

The classification of a certain type of products in various countries is not completely consistent. Including some countries ’local customary names, differences in interpretation of subdivision codes, and even some exporting companies taking advantage of tax refunds, categorizing products into other related product categories, etc. When this product was used, it could not be put under the same 6-bit code, so the data was inconsistent.

Different pricing methods

Foreign trade friends who are familiar with customs declaration all know that the statistical data on the customs declaration form, including the tax rebates of some production enterprises, etc., are based on FOB prices, which means that FOB statistics are calculated by the exporting country. The statistics of importing countries are often CIF.

Entrepot trade

For example, if the goods are exported from China to the UK, and then transferred to the Amsterdam port of the Netherlands, then this is actually a re-export trade. From the perspective of the documents, the exporting country is China, the destination port is Amsterdam, and the China Export Statistics Association calculates that China exports to the Netherlands; and the goods are actually exported from the Netherlands to the United Kingdom. This will result in the lack of statistics and unequal statistics of trading countries.

Delayed customs declaration

After some goods arrived at the warehouse at the destination port, due to some force majeure reasons, they were stored for several months, and they failed to declare import customs clearance in time and delayed customs clearance. Failure to record the data in time will also affect the statistics of trading countries.

Different trading systems

Countries with different trading systems, some are general trading systems and some are special trading systems. For example, China is under the general trading system, some data statistics will follow the statistical methods under the general trading system; and some countries with special trading systems, the corresponding data statistical methods and rules are also different.

Processing trade goods

In the statistics of some countries, some goods exported from the processing trade area are not included in the statistics of customs data, so they may not be recorded by the exporting country.

In short, the trade data collected by various importing and exporting countries is not like what most people think is "this value must be equal." These are the reasons for the asymmetry in the bilateral statistics of trading countries.

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