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Every User of Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) should know the coverage and limitations of the United Nation data.

Coverage: The Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) Database contains detailed imports and exports statistics provided by the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) and reported by statistical authorities of close to 200 countries or areas. It concerns annual trade data from 1989 to the most recent year. A typical record is – for instance – the exports of beer from Germany to the United States in 2004 in terms of value (US dollars), weight and supplementary quantity (liters). The database is continuously updated. Whenever trade data is received from the national authorities, they are standardized by the UN Statistics Division and then added to UN Comtrade which is then used to update the GATS database.

Limitations: The UN Comtrade data is not available to the general public and should be used with good knowledge of its limitations and data dissemination restrictions. Please read the following points very carefully before extracting, using or disseminating the data:
  1. The United Nations data shown on this internet site is copyrighted by the United Nations and is provided for internal use only. The data may not be re-disseminated in any form without written permission of the United Nations Statistics Division.
  2. The values of the reported detailed commodity data do not necessarily sum up to the total trade value for a given country dataset. Due to confidentiality, countries may not report some of its detailed trade.
  3. Countries (or areas) do not necessarily report their trade statistics for each and every year. This means that aggregations of data into groups of countries may involve countries with no reported data for a specific year. The United Nations data does not contain estimates for missing data. Therefore, trade of a country group could be understated due to unavailability of some country data.
  4. Imports reported by one country do not coincide with exports reported by its trading partner. Differences are due to various factors including valuation (imports CIF, exports FOB), differences in inclusions/ exclusions of particular commodities, timing etc. The recommendations for international merchandise trade statistics can be found in the International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Compilers Manual). Additional methodological information can be found on the same web page.
  5. Almost all countries report as partner country for imports the country of origin which is determined by the rules of origin established by each country. Hence, the term ‘partner country’ in the case of imports does not necessarily imply any direct trading relationship.
  6. Whenever quantity or weight information is missing, it was either not reported or in the case of quantity not provided in a quantity unit recommended by WCO for this specific commodity. The United Nations estimates missing quantity or weight information whenever possible by using the country's own data for this period or by using standard unit values derived from data for all countries. If quantity or weights are entirely out of a pre-defined range the United Nations applies this estimation procedure as well. The standard unit values are updated in certain intervals and the unit value applied can be the same for certain consecutive years. Obviously, any estimation based on previous data has to be used with caution in particular in the case of fast price movements.
  7. Distinction between Exports, Imports and Re-exports: Exports of a country can be distinguished as exports of domestic goods and exports of foreign goods. The second class is generally referred to as re-exports. The exports shown in the GATS database contain both the exports of domestic and foreign goods. Exports figures always include Re-exports. Imports can be distinguished as imports of foreign goods and imports of domestic goods. Import of domestic goods is referred as re-imports. In UN Comtrade data, imports contain both the imports of foreign goods and domestic goods. Imports figures always include Re-imports.







United States State Export Data Limitations

In certain cases, the origin of movement is not the transportation origin. Whenever shipments are consolidated, the state of origin of movement will reflect the consolidate point. This effect is
particularly noticeable for agricultural shipments. Intermediaries located in inland states ship agricultural commodities down the Mississippi River for export from the port of New Orleans. In
this case, they would report Louisiana, the state where the port of New Orleans is located, as the state of origin of movement.

The primary impact is on the state distribution of non-manufactured exports, which are generally exported by intermediaries. The most visible result is a tendency to understate exports from
some agricultural states and to overstate exports from states like Louisiana that have ports that handle high-value shipments of farm products.

The series DOES NOT represent the production origin of U.S. export merchandise. In some cases considerable manufactured exports are attributed to states that are known to have little
manufacturing capability. One reason is that commodities produced by out-of-state suppliers can be shipped from in-state distribution centers. Another factor is shipments of manufactured
commodities from in-state warehouses and other distribution centers that are arranged by exporters located out-of-state. In both cases, manufactured exports from the non-industrial state are
magnified in the series.