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Quality of the international trade statistics in 2016

18.9.2017 9.00
Press release

As of year 2010, the final figures of the statistical year are published at the end of August the following year. Finnish Customs thus follows the Eurostat recommendation on the time of publication of final statistics. The final international trade statistics for 2016 were published on 31 August 2017.

In 2016, the preliminary statistics on export and import values published monthly by Finnish Customs showed approximately the same amount of deviation from the final figures of the statistical year as in earlier years. The preliminary export values were closer to the final values when compared to the import values. A lot of corrections are made especially with regard to imports from the EU area.

The final export figures for last year show a figure that is 635 million euros higher than what was estimated in the preliminary statistics. This is 1.2 per cent of the value of the total exports. In the previous year, the final export figures increased by 1.6 per cent. The final import figures increased by 1 433 million euros, that is, by 2.7 per cent of the value of the total imports. In the year before, the increase was 2.3 per cent. There were more corrections in the import figures than in the export figures, and therefore the trade deficit increased from the 2,3 billion euros indicated by the monthly preliminary statistics to the final 3,1 billion euros.

The monthly preliminary figures on export and import and the final international trade figures for 2016 are shown in the table 1 below and the revision percentage for 2002-2016 in the figure 1 below. 

Table 1. Monthly preliminary data and final figures on imports and exports in 2015, MEUR

Month Export Import
Preliminary data Final figures Preliminary data Final figures
January 3 550 3 582 3 870 4 019
February 4 070 4 118 4 170 4 306
March 4 380 4 449 4 645 4 741
April 4 270 4 322 4 495 4 607
May 4 315 4 365 4 415 4 550
June 4 935 4 966 4 610 4 735
July 3 900 3 913 4 145 4 247
August 3 910 3 993 4 365 4 474
September 4 530 4 570 4 600 4 673
October 4 480 4 533 4 670 4 789
November 4 505 4 566 4 655 4 822
December 4 400 4 503 4 930 5 040
Total 51 245 51 880 53 570 55 003
Difference MEUR   635   1 433
Deviation %   1,2   2,7

Figure 1. Yearly revision of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the final figures 2002-2016, per cent of the value of exports and importsFigure 1. Yearly revision of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the final figures 2002-2016, per cent of the value of exports and imports

Finnish Customs always publishes the preliminary international trade data within 39 days after the end of the statistical month. Detailed monthly statistics on international trade are published about eight weeks after the statistical month. The final figures of the statistical year are always published at the end of August the next year.

The quality of the statistics of the EU and its Member States is a central theme in the activities of Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the EU. Methods of evaluating preliminary international trade statistical data, among other things, are developed in cooperation with the Member States.

The statistics for each month are subjected to an inspection process, in which changes can also be made to statistics published in earlier months. Typically, most corrections are made in the two months following the statistical month. When the monthly statistics are published, updated data on previous months of the statistical year are also published.

The supplements to the statistics are essentially affected by delays and incompleteness in the accrual of statistical material. Typical errors in the statistical declarations include incorrect commodity codes or country codes, as well as faulty value and quantity data. The internal trade statistics are also checked by comparing them to the data on value added tax. Consequently, the statistics are updated by adding missing data and deleting and correcting incorrect data. Therefore the corrections can be either positive or negative.

The figure 2 below shows the monthly deviations of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to data published in the monthly survey of the same statistical month.  

Figure 2. Monthly deviations of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2013-2016, per cent of the value of exports and importsFigure 2. Monthly deviations of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2013-2016, per cent of the value of exports and imports

The figure 3 below shows the yearly corrections of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the data published in the monthly statistics of the same statistical month. Because the corrections have either an increasing or decreasing effect on the value of export or import, the percentage of the deviation from the corresponding preliminary data has been calculated as an absolute value.  

Figure 3. Yearly corrections of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2008-2016 calculated as an absolute value of the deviation, per cent of the value of exports and importsFigure 3. Yearly corrections of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2008-2016 calculated as an absolute value of the deviation, per cent of the value of exports and imports

The statistics for 2016 were updated for the last time on 31 August 2017. The detailed statistics of the current year until June were published at the same time in the ULJAS database. The preliminary data for the whole 2016 were published on 7 February 2017.

Detailed information on the grounds for drawing up international trade statistics can be obtained under the heading International Trade Statistics on the Finnish Customs website. The website also contains a publishing timetable for the preliminary data and the monthly surveys.

Finnish Customs, Statistics
Further information is available from Ms Christina Telasuo, tel. +358 40 332 1828, or Mr Olli-Pekka Penttilä, tel. +358 40 332 1862
Email: firstname.lastname@tulli.fi