National Academies Press: OpenBook

Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy (1992)

Chapter: Appendix C: A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners

« Previous: Appendix B: Canvass of Data Users
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners." National Research Council. 1992. Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1865.
×

C

A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners

This note compares the accuracy of export statistics across five developed countries: the United States, Japan, West Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The statistics analyzed in this note are those reported in the various issues of the Direction of Trade Statistics Yearbook published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These countries were selected for two reasons. First, they are the four largest importers of U.S. exports: the four countries' share of the total U.S. exports was 40.7 percent for 1980-1989 (see Table C-1). Second, they are also the important export destinations for other countries: the export shares of the other four countries in each country's total exports were: 42.6 percent for Japan, 18.7 percent for West Germany, 27.9 percent for the United Kingdom, and 79.0 percent for Canada (see Table C-1).

International experiences suggest that import data are in general more accurate (or are more seriously collected by officials) than export data, probably because of taxation and trade restrictions. Based on this observation, this note assumes that each country's import statistics represent true trade flows and treats the difference between an exporting country's export data and the corresponding importing country's data as an inaccurate portion of export statistics.

Most countries report their imports on the cost-insurance-freight (c.i.f.) valuation basis and their exports on the free-on-board (f.o.b.) basis. The c.i.f./f.o.b. ratios are different among countries, mainly due to each country's geographical location and trade contents.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners." National Research Council. 1992. Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1865.
×

TABLE C-1 Export Shares by Destination, 1980-1989 (in billions of dollars)

Export Shares

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

10-Year Average

U.S. exports (f.o.b.)

to Japan, West Germany, United Kingdom, and Canada

79.8

84.1

74.6

79.4

91.3

90.2

94.1

113.9

139.8

160.5

 

to World

220.7

233.7

212.2

200.5

217.8

213.1

217.2

252.8

319.9

363.8

 

4 countries' share (%)

36.2

36.0

35.2

39.6

41.9

42.3

43.3

45.1

43.7

44.1

40.7

Japan's exports (f.o.b.)

to United States, West Germany, United Kingdom, and Canada

43.9

52.9

49.1

57.8

75.9

83.0

104.7

112.1

123.0

127.2

 

to World

130.4

151.5

138.4

146.9

169.7

177.1

210.7

231.3

264.9

274.5

 

4 countries' share (%)

33.7

35.0

35.5

39.3

44.8

46.8

49.7

48.5

46.5

46.3

42.6

West Germany's exports (f.o.b.)

to United States, Japan, United Kingdom, and Canada

27.8

26.4

27.6

30.1

34.6

39.3

52.5

62.1

66.3

67.2

 

to World

192.8

176.0

176.4

169.4

171.7

183.9

243.3

294.1

323.3

341.3

 

4 countries' share (%)

14.4

15.0

15.7

17.8

20.2

21.4

21.6

21.1

20.5

19.7

18.7

United Kingdom's exports (f.o.b.)

to United States, Japan, West Germany, and Canada

25.5

26.5

25.1

24.4

26.3

30.1

32.0

39.2

42.5

45.2

 

to World

110.0

102.2

96.9

91.6

93.8

101.2

107.0

131.2

145.1

152.3

 

4 countries' share (%)

23.2

25.9

26.0

26.7

28.1

29.8

30.0

29.9

29.3

29.7

27.9

Canada's exports (f.o.b.)

to United States, Japan, West Germany, and United Kingdom

48.9

53.9

53.4

60.7

73.6

75.1

74.2

80.3

93.5

97.2

 

to World

67.7

72.7

71.2

76.7

90.2

90.7

89.7

98.1

116.5

120.6

 

4 countries' share (%)

72.2

74.2

75.1

79.1

81.5

82.8

82.8

81.9

80.3

80.6

79.0

SOURCE: International Monetary Fund (1986b, 1990b).

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners." National Research Council. 1992. Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1865.
×

This note uses the c.i.f./f.o.b. factors (CFF) shown in the IMF's International Financial Statistics. The CFF series originate from the balance-of-payments statistics; a country's total costs for freight and insurance are computed as differences between its imports (c.i.f.) and its trading partner 's corresponding exports (f.o.b.). The CFFs are “average” figures for the total imports. Nonetheless, using them is probably better than just using the 1.1 figure usually applied by other researchers for some countries. (The CFF series used in this note can be found in International Financial Statistics Yearbook, 1989.)

The yearly data for each country from 1980 to 1989 are examined as follows:

  1. is the country's exports (f.o.b.) to the other four countries (in millions of dollars);

  2. is the other four countries' imports (c.i.f.) from the country concerned (in millions of dollars);

  3. is the other four countries' imports, expressed in (f.o.b.) terms, from the country concerned (in millions of dollars),

  1. is the discrepancy on an f.o.b. basis (in millions of dollars),

(d) = (a)−(c);

  1. is the discrepancy on an f.o.b. basis, expressed in percentage terms,

The table below shows the 10-year average discrepancies (in current prices) and discrepancy percentages from 1980 to 1989 for each country. Since the absolute magnitudes of discrepancies vary with the size of each country's exports, the discrepancy percentages are a better measure for international comparisons of the accuracy of countries ' statistics than the magnitudes.

 

Discrepancy

Country

$ Millions

Percentages

United States

−7,734

−7.96

Japan

92

0.36

West Germany

30

0.00

United Kingdom

−1,163

−4.04

Canada

689

1.13

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners." National Research Council. 1992. Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1865.
×

The discrepancies and discrepancy percentages of Japan, West Germany, and Canada are close to zero (on average), while those of the United States show large negative figures. This difference suggests that the U.S. export statistics may be less accurate than those of Japan, West Germany, and Canada. If so, trade deficit figures announced by the United States may have been overstated. The U.S. discrepancies and discrepancy percentages appear to be smaller in the recent years, which might indicate the recent improvement of the U.S. export statistics.

The discrepancy percentage of Canada may be biased in the positive direction for several reasons: the main destination of Canada's exports is the United States; Canada and the United States are geographically close, and thus freight and insurance costs are probably lower than those for trade destined for other countries; the U.S. import data are converted from the c.i.f. basis to the f.o.b. basis by using the “aggregate” conversion factors. Therefore, the data on U.S. imports from Canada (f.o.b.) may be understated.

A part of the large discrepancies of the U.S. export statistics might come from their trade contents. If the accuracy of import statistics is positively related to the magnitude of trade restrictions, import data of agricultural trade may be more accurate than those of manufactured goods, because agricultural trade is generally more restricted than manufactured goods trade. If so, the discrepancies of agricultural exports may be biased in the negative direction compared with those of manufactured goods exports.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners." National Research Council. 1992. Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1865.
×
Page 221
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners." National Research Council. 1992. Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1865.
×
Page 222
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners." National Research Council. 1992. Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1865.
×
Page 223
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: A Comparison of U.S. Export Statistics With Those of Major Trading Partners." National Research Council. 1992. Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1865.
×
Page 224
Next: Appendix D: Variability in Month-to-Month Changes in the Seasonally Adjusted Merchandise Trade Balance »
Behind the Numbers: U.S. Trade in the World Economy Get This Book
×
Buy Hardback | $29.95
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

America's international economic decisions rest to a large degree on the information available to policymakers. Yet the quality of international trade and financial data is in serious doubt. This book reveals how our systems for collecting and analyzing trade data have fallen behind the times—and presents recommendations for new approaches to accuracy and usefulness of these economic data.

The volume traces the burgeoning use of international economic data by public and private analysts at a time when the United States is becoming increasingly integrated into the world economy. It also points out problems of capturing new transactions, comparing data from different sources, limited access to the data, and more. This is the first volume to review all three types of U.S. international data—merchandise trade, international services transactions, and capital flows. Highlights include:

  • Specific steps for U.S. agencies to take.
  • Special analyses on improving the accuracy of merchandise trade data, filling data gaps on the fast-growing international services transactions, and understanding structural changes in world capital markets.
  • Comments, complaints, and suggestions from an original survey of more than 100 key users of trade data.

This practical volume will be invaluable to policymakers, government officials, business executives, economists, statisticians, and researchers.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!