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Compilation of statistics on foreign trade to change in 2008
The data collection of the smallest companies decreases

Publication date 3.12.2007 9.00
Press release

The compilation of statistics on the foreign trade of goods will change in 2008, as more of the smallest import and export companies are freed from the obligation to provide statistical data on EU internal trade. Behind the decrease in the data collection is an effort to lessen the burden on the respondent companies. In Finland, about 500 export companies and 2 000 import companies will be exempted from the obligation to provide information.

In Finland, companies whose value of exports to EU countries is at least 200 000 euros a year are obligated to submit a statistical declaration. At the beginning of 2008 this threshold value will increase to 300 000 euros. As a result of this, about 500 companies are exempted from the obligation to provide statistical information. The number of import companies providing statistical information decreases by about 2 000, as the threshold value rises from 100 000 euros to 200 000 euros.

The statistical data on the trade of companies with countries outside the EU are still collected from customs declarations, which are submitted for all import and export consignments. Thus the data collection is clearly more comprehensive in the external trade than in the internal trade. However, the EU's customs clearance systems for trade with countries outside the Community are being modernized, which may deteriorate the quality of the foreign trade statistics.

The change also influences the quality of the statistics

Regarding the entire import and export, the amount of companies exempted from the obligation to provide information can be estimated based on VAT data. The quality of more detailed statistics, however, will become poorer, because the number of companies providing data decreases. For some of the goods, the figures regarding values and amount of imports and exports will be lower than the actual figures. Some goods and countries will no longer be included in the statistics at all. The share on unspecified trade in the statistics will increase.

In the next few years, data collection on trade between the EU member countries will probably be further eased. It must be settled whether more small companies can be exempted from the obligation to provide statistical information. The possibility of so called one-way data collection, in which each Member Country collects data only on exports, and the import data would be constructed based on the export data of the other Member Countries, must also be investigated.

National Board of Customs, Statistics Unit
More information can be obtained from the Foreign Trade Department:
Mr. Timo Koskimäki, Head of Statistics Unit, tel. 020 492 1851, mobile 040 332 1851
Senior Customs Inspector Olli-Pekka Penttilä, tel. 020 492 1862, mobile 040 332 1862
Statistics bulletin