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The quality of the foreign trade statistics at the previous year’s level

2.9.2010 9.00
Press release

In 2009, the preliminary statistics on export and import values published monthly by the National Board of Customs showed approximately the same amount of deviation from the final figures of the statistical year as in 2008. Especially the preliminary export values were close to the final values.

In 2009, the preliminary statistics on export and import values published monthly by the National Board of Customs showed approximately the same amount of deviation from the final figures of the statistical year as in 2008. Especially the preliminary export values were close to the final values.

The final export figures for last year show a figure that is 467 million euros higher than what was estimated in the preliminary statistics. This is 1.1 per cent of the value of the total exports. In 2008, the final export figures increased by 0.7 per cent. The final import figures increased by 1 459 million euros, that is, by 3.5 per cent of the value of the total imports. In the year before, the increase was 3.6 per cent. A lot of corrections are made especially with regard to imports from the EU territory.

There were more corrections in the import figures than in the export figures, and therefore the trade surplus decreased from the 2.4 billion euros indicated by the monthly preliminary statistics to the final 1.4 billion euros.

The corrections in the statistics are essentially affected 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 previous months. 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.

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 previous months of the statistical year are also published. The final update to the figures of the previous statistical year takes place in August, when the figures of the current statistical year up until June are also published.

Previously, the final statistics of each statistical year were published in May the following year. Now the publication schedule has been delayed, mainly so that the quality of the statistics for the last months of the previous year can be further improved. Customs will thus in the future follow the Eurostat recommendation on the time of publication of final statistics.

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 statistical data, among other things, are developed in cooperation with the member states.

The table below shows the monthly preliminary and final data.

Table 1. Monthly preliminary data and final figures on imports and exports in 2009, MEUR
Month Imports Exports
Preliminary data Final figures Preliminary data Final figures
January 3 425 3 530 3 385 3 409
February 3 535 3 577 3 560 3 603
March 3 835 3 976 3 815 3 859
April 3 260 3 410 4 005 4 052
May 3 345 3 441 3 435 3 474
June 3 370 3 502 3 695 3 752
July 3 325 3 408 3 470 3 512
August 3 225 3 302 3 150 3 180
September 3 915 4 057 3 675 3 738
October 3 640 3 804 5 015 5 062
November 3 720 3 900 3 840 3 844
December 3 600 3 747 3 550 3 577
In total 42 195 43 654 44 595 45 062
Difference MEUR   1 459   467
Difference %   3,5   1,1

Correctness of foreign trade statistics; difference between preliminary and final statistics in 2002-2009, 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 nine weeks after the statistical month. The final figures of the statistical year are published at the end of August the next 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 foreign trade statistics can be obtained under the heading Foreign Trade Statistics on 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 on the Finnish Customs website. The website also contains statistical charts and graphics on foreign trade. The statistics database Uljas (http://uljas.tulli.fi/), which provides more specific statistical information on foreign trade in terms of countries and products, can also be used free of charge.

National Board of Customs, Statistics Unit
Further information is available from Mr Timo Koskimäki, Statistics Director, tel. +358 40 332 1851, or Mr Olli-Pekka Penttilä, Senior Customs Officer, tel. +358 40 332 1862
E-mail: [email protected]
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