Quality of the international trade statistics in 2018

12.9.2019 9.00
Press release

As of year 2010, the final figures of the statistical year are published at the end of August the following year. Finnish Customs thus follows the Eurostat recommendation on the time of publication of final statistics. The final international trade statistics for 2018 were published on 30 August 2019.

In 2018, the preliminary statistics on export and import values published monthly by Finnish 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. Many corrections were made especially with regard to imports from the EU area.

The final export figures for last year show a figure that is 611 million euros higher than what was estimated in the preliminary statistics. This is one per cent of the value of the total exports. In the previous year, the final export figures increased by 1.6 per cent. The final import figures increased by 1 131 million euros, that is, by 1.7 per cent of the value of the total imports. In the year before, the increase was 2.5 per cent. There were more corrections in the import figures than in the export figures, and therefore the trade deficit increased from the 2.4 billion euros indicated by the monthly preliminary statistics to the final 2.9 billion euros.

The monthly preliminary figures on export and import and the final international trade figures for 2018 are shown in the table 1 below and the revision percentage for 2008-2018 in the figure 1 below.

Table 1. Monthly preliminary data and final figures on imports and exports in 2018, MEUR
Month Exports Imports
  Preliminary data Final figures Preliminary data Final figures
January 5 180 5 214 5 330 5 446
February 4 770 4 807 5 055 5 170
March 5 400 5 411 5 560 5 730
April 5 500 5 610 5 370 5 461
May 5 305 5 368 5 565 5 620
June 5 355 5 431 5 340 5 587
July 4 965 5 004 5 415 5 389
August 5 050 5 101 5 450 5 624
September 5 115 5 200 5 275 5 339
October 5 775 5 811 5 955 6 054
November 5 765 5 776 5 825 5 790
December 4 890 4 948 5 315 5 376
Total 63 070 63 681 65 455 66 586
Difference MEUR   611   1 131
Deviation%   1,0   1,7

Figure 1. Yearly revision of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the final figures 2008-2018, per cent of the value of exports and imports

Figure 1. Yearly revision of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the final figures 2008-2018, per cent of the value of exports and imports

Finnish Customs always publishes the preliminary international trade data within 39 days after the end of the statistical month. Detailed monthly statistics on international trade are published about eight weeks after the statistical month. The final figures of the statistical year are always published at the end of August the next year.

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

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 are 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. The figure 2 below shows the monthly deviations of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to data published in the monthly statistics of the same statistical month.  

Figure 2. Monthly deviations of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2015-2018, per cent of the value of exports and imports

Figure 2. Monthly deviations of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2015-2018, per cent of the value of exports and imports

The figure 3 below shows the yearly corrections of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the data published in the monthly statistics 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 international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2008-2018 calculated as an absolute value of the deviation, per cent of the value of exports and imports

Figure 3. Yearly corrections of the international trade statistics from the preliminary data to the monthly survey data for 2008-2018 calculated as an absolute value of the deviation, per cent of the value of exports and imports

The statistics for 2018 were updated for the last time on 30 August 2019. The detailed statistics of the current year until June were published at the same time in the Uljas database. The preliminary data for the whole year 2018 was published on 7 February 2019.

Detailed information on the grounds for drawing up international trade statistics can be obtained under the heading International 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 Ms Christina Telasuo tel. +358 40 332 1828 or Mr Olli-Pekka Penttilä, tel +358 40 332 1862
Email: [email protected]
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