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The quality of the foreign trade statistics improved

Publication date 12.5.2009 9.00
Press release

In 2008, the preliminary statistics on export and import values published monthly by the National Board of Customs deviated less than in the year before from the final figures of the statistical year. Especially the preliminary export values were close to the final values.

​The final export figures for last year show a figure that is 441 million euros higher than what was estimated in the preliminary statistics. This is 0.7 per cent of the value of the total exports. In 2007, the final export figures increased by 2.3 per cent. The final import figures increased by 2 171 million euros, i.e. 3.6 per cent of the value of the total imports. One year earlier the increase was 4.1 per cent. The import figures were corrected more than the export figures and therefore the trade surplus decreased from 4.9 billion euros in the monthly preliminary statistics to the final 3.2 billion euros.

The correctness of the preliminary statistics was essentially deteriorated by delays and incompleteness in the accrual of statistical material. Furthermore, the statistics for each month are subjected to an inspection process, in which changes can also be made to statistics published in earlier months. Typical errors in the statistical declarations are, among others, faulty 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.

Typically, most corrections are made in the two months following the statistical month. After this, the values for the statistical month are rather close to the final values. When the monthly statistics are published, updated data on earlier months of the statistical year is also published.

In the last few years, the level of adjustment of the Finnish foreign trade statistics has been a little lower than the average level of the EU countries. The quality of the statistics of the EU and its Member Countries is a central theme in the activities of the Statistical Office of the EU (Eurostat). Methods of evaluating preliminary statistical data, among other things, are developed in cooperation with the Member Countries.

The table below shows the monthly preliminary and final data.

Table 1. Monthly preliminary data and final figures on imports and exports in 2008, MEUR
Month Imports Exports
Preliminary data Final figures Preliminary data Final figures
January 5 005 5 177 5 265 5 269
February 4 945 5 114 5 485 5 573
March 5 205 5 425 5 535 5 591
April 5 385 5 683 6 425 6 451
May 5 360 5 649 5 765 5 836
June 5 005 5 200 5 725 5 809
July 5 350 5 473 5 450 5 458
August 4 845 4 928 5 040 5 068
September 5 445 5 591 5 725 5 715
October 5 170 5 365 5 810 5 798
November 4 455 4 564 4 735 4 810
December 4 060 4 232 4 180 4 203
In total 60 230 62 401 65 140 65 581
Difference MEUR   2 171   441
Difference %   3,6   0,7

Correctness of foreign trade statistics; difference between preliminary and final statistics in 2002-2008, per cent of the value of exports and imports

The National Board of Customs publishes the preliminary data within 40 days after the end of the statistical month. Detailed monthly statistics on foreign trade are published roughly 9 weeks after the statistical month. Final yearly statistics are published no later than May the following year.

Foreign trade statistics published by the National Board of Customs are part of the Official Statistics of Finland.

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

All surveys on foreign trade published by the National Board of Customs are obtainable free of charge at the Finnish Customs website. The website also contains statistical charts and graphics on the foreign trade. The statistics database Uljas (, which provides more specific statistical information on the foreign trade in terms of countries and products, can also be used free of charge.

National Board of Customs, Statistics Unit
Further information: Head of Statistics Unit Timo Koskimäki, tel. 040 332 1851, or Senior Customs Inspector Kari Tähtivaara, tel. 020 492 1844
Statistics bulletin