Statistics, Foreign Trade
Statistics, Foreign Trade
the branch of economic statistics that characterizes the volume and dynamics of foreign trade, the geographic distribution of and commodity composition of foreign trade, the various countries’ share of the world’s commodity circulation, and the importance of foreign trade in a country’s national economy.
In most European countries, foreign trade statistics originated with customs data of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the first half of the 19th century, many countries, including Russia, initiated systematic publication of foreign trade statistics.
In the USSR, foreign trade statistics are compiled from the data reported by all-Union export-import associations and by other Soviet foreign trade organizations. The reported data are derived from transportation and commercial documents received from foreign importers, transportation organizations, and industrial, trade, and other enterprises that supply commodities for export. They show the name, quantity, quality, price, and value of commodities, the country of destination of exports, and the country of origin of imports.
After processing the incoming data, the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the USSR compiles indexes and tables on foreign trade and publishes yearly statistical surveys of foreign trade. The leading foreign trade statistical indexes are also drawn upon in compiling the general statistical yearbooks published by the Central Statistical Board of the USSR.
The question of the prices used for exports and imports is of great significance to foreign trade statistics. It is international practice to use FOB prices for exports and CIF prices for imports. The member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) use FOB prices for both exports and imports. Foreign trade statistics make broad use of groupings that characterize the export and import commodity structure. They are used to analyze the dynamics of Soviet trade with countries of differing socioeconomic systems—the socialist countries, the developing countries, and the industrially developed capitalist countries.
Foreign trade data are employed in calculating the budget efficiency of exports and imports. The export efficiency of a given commodity is calculated with reference to the foreign currency return per ruble of production outlay. The import efficiency is determined by comparing the unit value of a given commodity with the value of the domestic production of an analogous commodity in the USSR. Also calculated are the share of individual export commodities in the total production of such commodities in the USSR, and the share of import commodities in the total volume of consumption of such commodities in the USSR. These indexes show the USSR’s participation in the international division of labor. In the socialist countries, work with foreign trade statistics has benefited from the USSR’s experience in this respect.
Soviet foreign trade data are published in the annual statistical survey Foreign Trade of the USSR.
N. P. TITEL’BAUM