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Quality of the foreign trade statistics in 2011

14.9.2012 9.00
Press release

The final foreign trade statistics for 2011 were published on 31 August 2012. As of year 2010, the final figures of the statistical year are published at the end of August the next year. National Board of Customs thus follows the Eurostat recommendation on the time of publication of final statistics.

In 2011, 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 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 territory.

The final export figures for last year show a figure that is 649 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 1.4 per cent. The final import figures increased by 1 871 million euros, that is, by 3.2 per cent of the value of the total imports. In the year before, the increase was 3.4 per cent. There were more corrections in the import figures than in the export figures, and therefore the trade deficit increased from the 2.5 billion euros indicated by the monthly preliminary statistics to the final 3.7 billion euros.

The monthly preliminary figures on export and import and the final foreign trade figures for 2011 are shown in the table below and the revision percentage for 2002-2011 in the figure below.

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 foreign trade statistical data, among other things, are developed in cooperation with the Member States.

The National Board of Customs always publishes the preliminary foreign trade data within 39 days after the end of the statistical month. Detailed monthly statistics on foreign trade are published roughly eight weeks after the statistical month as part of the monthly survey. The final figures of the statistical year are always published at the end of August the next year.

Table 1. Monthly preliminary data and final figures on imports and exports in 2011, MEUR
Month Exports Imports
Preliminary data Final figures Preliminary data Final figures
January 4 380 4 531 4 455 4 517
February 4 360 4 392 4 370 4 588
March 5 070 5 180 5 525 5 878
April 4 570 4 602 4 755 4 950
May 4 940 5 031 5 195 5 379
June 4 880 4 909 4 885 4 822
July 4 400 4 417 4 485 4 601
August 4 720 4 680 4 860 5 063
September 4 940 4 977 4 850 4 980
October 4 375 4 439 4 980 5 140
November 4 885 4 965 5 145 5 296
December 4 685 4 731 5 160 5 322
Total 56 205 56 854 58 665 60 536
Difference MEUR   649   1 871
Deviation %   1,2   3,2

Figure 1. Yearly revision of the foreign trade statistics from the preliminary data to the final figures, per cent of the value of exports and imports

Figure 1. Yearly revision of the foreign trade statistics from the preliminary data to the final figures, per cent of the value of exports and imports

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 is 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 below shows the monthly deviations of the foreign trade statistics from the preliminary data published in the monthly survey of the same statistical month.  

Figure 2. Monthly deviations of the foreign trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2009-2011, per cent of the value of exports and imports

Figure 2. Monthly deviations of the foreign trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2009-2011, per cent of the value of exports and imports

The figure shows the monthly corrections of the foreign trade statistics from the preliminary data published in the monthly survey 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 foreign trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2008-2011 calculated as an absolute value of the deviation, per cent of the value of exports and imports

Figure 3. Yearly corrections of the foreign trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2008-2011 calculated as an absolute value of the deviation, per cent of the value of exports and imports

The statistics for 2011 were be updated for the last time on 31 August 2011. The detailed statistics of the current year until June were be published at the same time in the ULJAS database. The preliminary data for the whole 2011 was published on 7 February 2012.

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.

Finnish Customs, Statistics
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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