Trade Data Basics
The official U.S. import and export statistics reflect government
and non-government shipments of merchandise between foreign countries
and the U.S. Customs Territory (i.e. the 50 states, District of
Columbia, and Puerto Rico), U.S. Foreign Trade
Zones, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, without regard to whether
or not a commercial transaction is involved.
Table of Contents
> Domestic Exports > Foreign
> General Imports > Imports
Basis > Free Alongside Ship (FAS) Export
Value > Customs Import Value
of Payments (BOP) Basis
System (HS) > Schedule B > Harmonized
Industrial Trade Classification (SITC)
American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
Exports measure the total physical
movement of merchandise out of the United States to foreign countries
whether such merchandise is exported from within the U.S. Customs
Territory or from a U.S. Customs bonded warehouse
or a U.S. Foreign Trade Zone. Information on
exports of merchandise from the U.S. to all countries, except
Canada, is compiled from copies of Shipper's
Export Declarations (SEDs). Copies of SEDs are required to
be filed with Customs officials at the port of export. Canadian
import statistics are used to measure U.S. exports to Canada.
Total Exports is the sum of two types of exports:
- Domestic Exports- Commodities
grown, produced or manufactured in the U.S., including commodities
imported from foreign countries that have been significantly
changed or enhanced in value, in either the United States
or a Foreign Trade Zone.
- Foreign Exports (Re-exports)
- Commodities of foreign origin that have entered the U.S.
but are "re-exported" in substantially the same condition
as when imported.
Imports include commodities of foreign
origin or domestically produced goods that are returned to the
United States with no change in condition or after having been
processed and/or assembled in other countries. There are two measurement
styles for imports:
- General Imports - This
number measures the total value of merchandise shipments that
arrive in the U.S. from foreign countries, whether such merchandise
enters consumption channels immediately or is entered into
bonded warehouses or Foreign
Trade Zones under Customs custody.
- Imports for Consumption
- This number measures the total value of merchandise that
physically clears Customs, or goods withdrawn from Customs
bonded warehouses or U.S. Foreign
Trade Zones, which immediately enter consumption channels.
Merchandise being held in bonded warehouses
or U.S. Foreign Trade Zones is not included
until it is specifically withdrawn for consumption.
Warehouses are authorized by U.S. Customs for storage
or manufacturing of goods on which payment of duties is deferred
until the goods are removed into Customs Territory. These goods
are not subject to duties if reshipped to foreign points.
Trade Zones are enclosed areas, operated as public utilities,
under control of U.S. Customs with facilities for handling, storing,
manipulating, manufacturing, and exhibiting goods. The merchandise
may be exported, destroyed, or sent into Customs Territory from
the zone, in the original package or otherwise. It is subject
to Customs duties if sent into Customs Territory, but not if reshipped
to foreign points.
trade can be measured on a Census or Balance of Payments Basis:
Census Basis - Represents the
difference between U.S. total exports based on F.A.S. values and
U.S. General Imports based on Customs import
values. This balance corresponds to a measurement of the international
payments or credit flows resulting from the physical movement
of goods between the U.S. and foreign countries.
- Free Alongside Ship (FAS) Export
Value - Transaction price of the merchandise including
inland freight, insurance, and other charges incurred in placing
the merchandise alongside the carrier at the U.S. port of
exportation. The value excludes any loading, transportation,
or insurance costs beyond the port of exportation.
- Customs Import Value - Price
paid for merchandise when sold for exportation to the U.S.
Additional costs for shipment, delivery and import duties,
are not included.
Balance of Payments (BOP) Basis
- The U.S. Bureau
of Economic Analysis (BEA) adjusts goods totals on a Census
basis to bring the data in line with the concepts and definitions
used to prepare the international and national accounts. These
adjustments are necessary to supplement coverage of the Census
basis data, to eliminate duplication of transactions recorded
elsewhere in the international accounts, and to value transactions
according to a standard definition. These adjustments also allow
for the goods trade totals to be summed with services
trade totals for a more accurate account of U.S. total trade.
three standard classification systems for merchandise trade:
Harmonized System (HS) - An international
classification system standardized between countries at a basic
6-digit level. Commodity classifications in the U.S. are given
in two publications, one for exports and one for imports:
International Trade Classification (SITC) -
A statistical classification of the commodities entering external
trade designed to provide the commodity aggregates needed for
purposes of economic analysis and to facilitate the international
comparison of trade-by-commodity data.
American Industry Classification System (NAICS) - A consistent
system for economic analysis across the three North American Free
Trade Agreement partners: Canada, Mexico and the United States.
NAICS is built on a production-oriented or supply-based conceptual
framework in that establishments are grouped into industries according
to similarity in the processes used to produce goods or services.
NAICS is a 6-digit hierarchical coding system. The first two digits
of the code designate the sector that represent general categories
of economic activities, the third designates the sub-sector, the
fourth digit designates the industry group, the fifth digit designates
the NAICS industry, and the sixth digit designates the national
The U.S. Bureau of
Economic Analysis collects and compiles U.S. services import
and export statistics. These are released in a monthly press release,
International Trade in Goods and Services report (FT900).
The services statistics are estimates of services transactions
between foreign countries and the 50 states, the District of Columbia,
Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other U.S. territories
and possessions. Unlike trade in goods, which is closely tracked
through the submission of Shipper's
Export Declarations, services trade calculations are based
on quarterly, annual, and benchmark surveys and partial information
generated from monthly reports. Services trade totals are then
estimated from these survey results. Limited country or area detail
is available due to the lack of adequate source data upon which
to base estimates.
- Travel - Purchases of services and goods by
U.S. travelers abroad and by foreign visitors to the United
- Passenger Fares - Receipts consist of fares
received by U.S. carriers from foreign residents for travel
between the United States and foreign countries and between
two foreign points. Payments consist of fares paid by U.S.
residents to foreign carriers for travel between the United
States and foreign countries.
- Other Transportation - Charges for the transportation
of goods by ocean, air, waterway, pipeline, and rail carriers
to and from the United States.
- Royalties and License Fees - Transactions
with foreign residents involving intangible assets and proprietary
rights, such as the use of patents, techniques, processes,
formulas, designs, know-how, trademarks, copyrights, franchises,
and manufacturing rights.
- Other Private Services - Transactions with
affiliated foreigners, for which no identification by type
is available, and of transactions with unaffiliated foreigners.
- Transfers Under U.S. Military Sales Contracts (exports
only) - Exports of goods and services in which U.S.
military agencies participate. Includes both goods (such as
equipment) and services (such as repair services and training)
that cannot be separately identified.
- Direct Defense Expenditures (imports only)
- Expenditures incurred by U.S. military agencies abroad,
including expenditures by U.S. personnel, payments of wages
to foreign residents, construction expenditures, payments
for foreign contractual services, and procurement of foreign
goods. Includes both goods and services that cannot be separately
- U.S. Government Miscellaneous Services - Transactions
of U.S. government nonmilitary agencies with foreign residents.
Most of these transactions involve the provision of services
to, or purchases of services from, foreigners; transfers of
some goods are also included.