25.15.    Example from the United States of America. Metadata on the international merchandise trade statistics of the United States is made available online at the United States Bureau of the Census website in a Guide to Foreign Trade Statistics.[13]  This resource provides a detailed description of the United States Foreign Trade Statistical Program, and includes information on the legal framework (“Authority”), data sources, concepts and definitions (e.g., commodity classifications, coverage, valuation, quantity measurement, date of recording, etc.), data-processing procedures (e.g., seasonal adjustment, constant dollar adjustment), estimation methods for low-valued statistics, quality reporting (e.g., non-sampling errors, comparability issues, etc.), and data revision policies.  This metadata dissemination resource also includes contact information and other sources of information about the United States Foreign Trade Statistics Program. 

25.16.    Example from Italy. At ISTAT, the main foreign trade statistics dissemination tool is the web-based system Coeweb which allows free of charge downloads and contains a wide range of standardized and customized statistical tables and a special section for metadata. In particular, great efforts are made to improve accessibility of metadata by enriching the sections devoted to users’ support in respect of issues like commodity and geographical classifications (including correlation tables which are updated yearly), methodologies related to specific issues (such as electricity and gas) and documentation on regulations and national law. The version in English is available for many issues. Methodological warnings are presented in dynamic footnotes to downloadable tables (about 5,000 notes) presenting users with possible caveats in respect of the interpretation of data and inviting them to access more in-depth information at the specific metadata section. 

25.17.    Example from Brazil. Metadata pertaining to Brazil’s international merchandise trade statistics are available in Portuguese, English and Spanish through the online AliceWeb2 system (http://aliceweb2.mdic.gov.br/). Concepts and definitions in respect of the main variables are given directly below:

(a)    Export: corresponds to a good shipped to the outside, without return;

(b)   Import: corresponds to the entry of a good originating from outside, without return;

(c)    Commodity: for the purpose of the classification of goods, Brazil has, since 1996, used the common classification of Mercosur (NCM), which is also used by other countries of the block (Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), which is based on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System;

(d)   Country of destination (for exports): for the purpose of dissemination of export statistics, the country of destination is the last country known at the time of the exportation, to which goods are to be delivered, irrespective of where they have been initially dispatched to and whether or not, on their way to the last country, they are subject to any commercial transactions or other operations that change their legal status;

(e)    Country of origin (for imports): for the purpose of disseminating statistics on imports, the country of origin is the country where the agricultural products were grown, the minerals extracted or the manufactured goods produced in whole or in part. In the case of manufactured goods, the country of origin is where the last phase of processing was completed and the product adopted its final form (a concept defined by the Kyoto Convention );

(f)    Economic bloc: the countries are grouped by economic blocks following the formation of geo-economic regions and international agreements. A country may be part of more than one economic bloc;

(g)   State (unit of the federation): for the purpose of disseminating statistics on exports, the State is the unit of the Federation where agricultural products were grown, minerals were extracted or manufactured goods were produced in whole or in part. In the case of manufactures, “State” is the State that has completed the last stage of the manufacturing process in which the product takes its final form (concept of origin). In the case of imports, “State” is defined as the State of the tax residence of the importer;

(h)   Mode of transport: in the case of exports, this refers to the means of transportation used from the last place from which the goods are shipped abroad. In the case of imports, it refers to the means of transportation used at the first point of entry of goods into national territory. In accordance with the framework of the Mercosur countries,Brazil records the following modes of transport: sea, river, lake, air, postal consignments, mail or courier shipments, railway, road, pipelines, transmission line (cables) and self-propelled goods;

(i)     Port: for exports, this refers to the port or airport where the shipment of goods takes place, or the last place from which the good leaves the country. In the case of imports, it is the port or airport where the goods are unloaded or the first place at which the goods enter the country.

Box XXV.1

Towards the implementation of SDMX and DDI for IMTS: Experience of Mexico

The SDMX standard is designed for exchanging statistical data and metadata between two or more partners. Of particularly interest is the fact that inMexico, which is a federal country, SDMX can support both a national information sharing system and its links to other information sharing systems at the international level.  Following the decision to adopt the SDMX standard, theMexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) started developing the infrastructure required to make data and structural metadata available through web services. Tools developed by Eurostat as well as the support of OECD have been of great help in the accomplishment of this task.

The data (and related metadata) for a given statistical domain are structured in SDMX according to a Data structure definition (DSD), which describes the structure of a particular statistical data flow through a list of dimensions and a list of attributes (and their associated codes). 

Mexicois working on the adoption of SDMX technology in statistical projects in various statistical domains.  However, in January 2011, INEGI decided, in partnership with OECD’s Statistics Directorate, to give priority to the conversion of the “annual trade by commodity” data flow to SDMX. By the beginning of 2012, this data flow was released by INEGI for testing purposes in a web service, and it is expected that feedback will be received from OECD. The data structure definition for this data flow will include dimensions such as frequency, reference country, trade flow (exports, imports, etc.), commodity code (from the HS2007 classification), valuation (in FOB or CIF terms), partner country or region, and reference period.  It will include attributes like unit of measurement and observation status.

The issue of metadata is also covered inMexicothrough the implementation of the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) as a fundamental tool for the integration of metadata for international merchandise trade statistics. The project is carried out with the support and advice of the World Bank. The policy of INEGI is to use both standards as linchpins for the metadata of the national statistical projects, thus strengthening the national system of statistical and geographical information.


[13] See www.census.gov/foreign-trade/guide/sec2.html