Confidentiality of data

All the EU Member States are applying their own national procedures and instructions with a view to ensuring the confidentiality of the data. Enterprises have the possibility to suppress such data relating to trade in cases where enterprise-specific data are recognisable in publications and this would harm its business. This kind of passive practice to suppress data (suppression at the request of a declarer) exists in most countries which publish international trade statistics.

At the processing of confidential data, information on one trade operator or one business transaction can be suppressed by aggregating statistical data before publishing. In certain cases the information may have to be suppressed totally when data on quantities or country-specific data on a certain commodity subheading are concerned. Finnish Customs suppresses statistical data only at the request of an enterprise engaged in trade. Suppression is granted if the study of statistical data on commerce supports the request of the enterprise i.e. that the business transaction of the enterprise is clearly revealed by the statistics. Normally this refers to a case where one statistical class contains fewer than three enterprises or the enterprise which presented the request dominates i.e. represents at least 75 % of the total value of the statistical class.

The following suppression classes applied at the Common Nomenclature are in use within the Finnish international trade statistics:

  • country-specific quantity data are not published
  • quantity data are not published at all
  • only the data on the total value are published
  • only the data on the total value and total quantity are published

Regardless of the data being partly or completely suppressed, the data on the total value of the so-called suppressed commodity subheadings are published. Accordingly, the published value data on import and export are not short-covering because of the suppressions like the case may be in certain other countries. The suppressed data can also be published at classification levels, as long as the statistics ensure that individual suppressed data cannot be traced from the statistics by calculation. Applying this latter procedure, the total figures of international trade are always available at a certain classification level.

Active data suppression is applied to the tabular data published by economic activity. Economic activity classes with fewer than three companies or with a dominating company representing at least 75% of the total value of the statistical category are actively suppressed.

Active suppression is also applied to some detailed statistics, such as regional statistics (based on the postcodes of companies) or in the statistics at the levels TOL-country-goods (TOL levels 4 or 5). The limit is set at 10 companies; the joint values of groups with fewer companies are not published in these cases, because it would be fairly easy to identify the companies behind the figures. As for larger groups, the numbers of companies is also published.In company surveys, even stronger suppression is applied to the numbers of companies.

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