Home > News > News Release Archive > 2006 > News Release: U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services > Information Section

Information Section

Available for printing: Information Section (PDF - KB)

GOODS

CENSUS BASIS

The Census basis goods data are compiled from the documents collected by the U.S.
Customs Border and Protection and reflect the movement of goods between foreign
countries and the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin
Islands, and U.S. Foreign Trade Zones.  They include government and non-government
shipments of goods, and exclude shipments between the United States and its
territories and possessions, transactions with U.S. military, diplomatic and consular
installations abroad, U.S. goods returned to the United States by its Armed Forces,
personal and household effects of travelers, and in-transit shipments.  The General
Imports value reflects the total arrival of merchandise from foreign countries that
immediately enters consumption channels, warehouses, or Foreign Trade Zones.

For imports, the value reported is the U.S. Customs Border and Protection appraised
value of merchandise;  generally, the price paid for merchandise for export to the
United States.  Import duties, freight, insurance, and other charges incurred in
bringing merchandise to the United States are excluded.

Exports are valued at the f.a.s. - free alongside ship - value of merchandise at
the U.S. port of export, based on the transaction price including inland freight,
insurance, and other charges incurred in placing the merchandise alongside the
carrier at the U.S. port of exportation.

Monthly data include actual month's transactions as well as a small number of
transactions for previous months.  Each month we revise the aggregate seasonally
adjusted (current and chain-weighted dollar) and unadjusted export, import and
trade balance figures, as well as the end-use totals for the prior month.  SITC
and country detail data are not revised monthly.  The timing adjustment shown in
Exhibit 14 is the difference between monthly data as originally reported and as
recompiled. Quarterly revisions are made to the chain-weighted dollar series.
In the last month of each quarter, the current and previous quarter are revised to
incorporate the Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly revisions and align Census and
the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis' quarterly data.  Annual revisions for the
months are made in June to reflect corrections received subsequent to the monthly
revision.  These revisions are reflected in totals, end-use, SITC and country summary
data. The monthly end-use, commodity, and country and area data presented in this
release are on a Census basis.  This refers to Exhibits 6 - 18.

U.S./CANADA DATA EXCHANGE AND SUBSTITUTION

The data for U.S. exports to Canada are derived from import data compiled by Canada.
The use of Canada's import data to produce U.S. export data requires several
alignments in order to compare the two series.

1.      Coverage -- Canadian imports are based on country of origin.  U.S. goods
        shipped from a third country are included.  U.S. exports exclude these foreign
        shipments.  For August 2006, these shipments totaled $140.6 million.
        U.S. export coverage also excludes certain Canadian postal shipments.
        For August 2006, these shipments totaled $20.4 million.

        U.S. import coverage includes shipments of railcars and locomotives from Canada.
        Effective with January 2004 statistics, Canada excludes these shipments from
        its goods exports to the United States, therefore creating coverage differences
        between the two countries for these goods.

2.      Valuation -- Canadian imports are valued at the point of origin in the United
        States.  However, U.S. exports are valued at the port of exit in the United
        States and include inland freight charges, making the U.S. export value slightly
        larger.  Canada requires inland freight to be reported.  Inland freight charges
        for August 2006 accounted for 2.1 percent of the value of U.S. exports
        to Canada.

3.      Reexports -- U.S. exports include reexports of foreign goods.  Again, the
        aggregate U.S. export figure is slightly larger.  For August 2006,
        reexports to Canada were $2,721 million.

4.      Exchange Rate -- Average monthly exchange rates are applied to convert the
        published data to U.S. currency.  For August 2006, the average exchange
        rate was 1.1182 Canadian dollars per U.S. dollar.

5.      Other -- There are other minor differences which are statistically insignificant,
        such as rounding error.

Canadian Estimates

Effective with January 2001 statistics, the current month data for exports to Canada
contain an estimate for late arrivals and corrections.  The following month, this
estimate is replaced, in the press release tables only, with the actual value of
late receipts and corrections.  This estimate improves the current month data for
exports to Canada and treats late receipts for exports to Canada in a manner more
consistent with the treatment of late receipts for exports to other countries.

Nonsampling errors

The goods data are a complete enumeration of documents collected by the U.S. Customs
Border and Protection and are not subject to sampling errors; but they are subject to
several types of nonsampling errors.  Quality assurance procedures are performed at
every stage of collection, processing and tabulation; however the data are still
subject to several types of nonsampling errors.  The most significant of these
include reporting errors, undocumented shipments, timeliness, data capture errors,
and errors in the estimation of low-valued transactions.

Reporting Errors: Reporting errors are mistakes or omissions made by importers,
exporters or their agents in their import or export declarations.  Most errors
involve missing or invalid commodity classification codes and missing or incorrect
quantities or shipping weights.  They have a negligible effect on import, export
and balance of trade statistics.  However, they can affect the detailed commodity
statistics.

Undocumented Shipments: Federal regulations require importers, exporters or their
agents to report all merchandise shipments above established exemption levels.  The
U.S. Census Bureau has determined that not all required documents are filed,
particularly for exports.

Timeliness and Data Capture Errors: The U.S. Census Bureau captures import and
export information from administrative documents and through various automated
collection programs.  Documents may be lost, and data may be incorrectly keyed,
coded or recorded.  Transactions may be included in a subsequent month's statistics
if received late.

Low-valued Transactions: The total values of transactions valued as much as or
below $2,500 for exports and $2,000 ($250 for certain quota items) for imports are
estimated for each country, using factors based on the ratios of low-valued
shipments to individual country totals for past periods.

The U.S. Census Bureau recommends that data users incorporate this information into
their analyses, as nonsampling errors could impact the conclusion drawn from the
results.  For a detailed discussion of errors affecting the goods data, see "U.S.
Merchandise Trade Statistics: A Quality Profile" available on the INTERNET at
www.census.gov/foreign-trade/aip/index.htm#infopapers or from the Foreign Trade
Division, U.S. Census Bureau.

AREA GROUPINGS (See Exhibits 14 and 14A)

North America - Canada, Mexico

Europe - Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbijan, Belarus, Belgium,
Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,
Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Gibralter, Greece, Hungary,
Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania,
Luxembourg, Malta and Gozo, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland,
Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain, Svalbard, Jan Mayen Island, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Vatican City.

European Union  - Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania,
Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,
United Kingdom.

Euro Area - Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy,
Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain.

Pacific Rim - Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Macao,
Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan.

South/Central America -  Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas,
Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands,
Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador,
Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti,
Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama,
Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines,
Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay, Venezuela.

OPEC - Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia,
United Arab Emirates, Venezuela.

Africa - Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, British Indian Ocean Territories,
Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros,
Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea,
Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi,
Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria,
Reunion, Rwanda, St. Helena, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles,
Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia,
Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Adjustments for Seasonal and Working-Day Variations

Goods are initially classified under the Harmonized System (HS) which describes and
measures the characteristics of goods traded.  Combining trade into approximately
140 export and 140 import end-use categories makes it possible to examine goods
according to their principal uses (See Exhibits 7 and 8).  These categories are
used as the basis for computing the seasonal and working-day adjusted data.  These
adjusted data are then summed to the six end-use aggregates for publication
(Exhibit 6).  These data are provided to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, from
the U.S. Census  Bureau, for use in the Balance of Payments and the National Income
and Product Accounts.

The seasonal adjustment procedure is based on a model that estimates the monthly
movements as percentages above or below the general level of each end-use commodity
series (unlike other methods that redistribute the actual series values over the
calendar year).  Because of the extremely variable movements of the data series for
aircraft, users studying data trends may wish to analyze aircraft separately from
other trade.

Adjustments for Price Change

Data adjusted for seasonal variation on a chained-dollar basis (2000 base year) are
presented in Exhibits 10 and 11.  This adjustment for price change is done using
the Fisher chain-weighted methodology.  The deflators are primarily based upon the
monthly price indexes published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics using techniques
developed for the National Income and Product Accounts by the U.S. Bureau of
Economic Analysis.

SITC Data

Goods data appearing in Exhibit 15 are classified in terms of the Standard
International Trade Classification (SITC) Revision 3.  Agricultural goods consist
of non-marine food products and other products of agriculture which have not passed
through complex processes of manufacture, such as raw hides and skins, fats and
oils, and wine. A few goods such as essential oils, starches, casein, and albumin,
considered to be agricultural by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, have been
excluded from agricultural goods and are included in manufactured goods where they
are classified in the SITC.

Manufactured goods conform to the SITC sections that include chemicals and related
products; manufactured goods classified chiefly by material; machinery and transport
equipment; miscellaneous manufactured articles; and goods and transactions not
classified elsewhere.

Reexports are foreign merchandise entering the country as imports, and at the time
of exportation are in substantially the same condition as when imported.  Reexports,
included in overall export totals, appear as separate line items in Exhibit 15.

Advanced Technology Products (ATP)

About 500 of some 22,000 commodity classification codes used in reporting U.S.
merchandise trade are identified as "advanced technology" codes and they meet the
following criteria:

1.      The code contains products whose technology is from a recognized high
        technology field (e.g., biotechnology).

2.	These products represent leading edge technology in that field.

3.      Such products constitute a significant part of all items covered in the
        selected classification code.

The aggregation of the goods results in a measure of advanced technology trade which
appears in Exhibit 16 and 16A.  This product and commodity-based measure of
advanced technology differs from broader NAICS industry-based measures which
include all goods produced by a particular industry group, regardless of the
level of technology embodied in the goods.

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS (BOP) BASIS

Goods on a Census basis are adjusted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to
goods on a BOP basis to bring the data in line with the concepts and definitions
used to prepare the international and national accounts.  Broadly, the adjustments
include changes in ownership that occur without goods passing into or out of the
customs territory of the United States.  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.

The export adjustments include:

        U.S. military sales contracts - This deduction of U.S. military sales contracts
        is made because the U.S. Census Bureau has included these contracts in the goods
        data, but BEA includes them in the service category "Transfers Under U.S. Military
        Sales Contracts."  BEA's source material for these contracts is more comprehensive,
        but has no distinction between goods and services.

        Private gift parcels - This addition is made for parcels mailed to foreigners by
        individuals through the U.S. Postal Service.  (Only commercial shipments are
        covered in Census goods exports.)

        Gold exports, nonmonetary - This addition is made for gold that is purchased by
        foreign official agencies from private dealers in the United States and held at
        the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  The Census data only include gold that
        leaves the customs territory.

        Some smaller adjustments are also made to exports:
        Deductions for repairs of goods, developed motion picture film, and military
        grant-aid.  Additions for sales of fish in U.S. territorial waters, exports of
        electricity to Mexico, and vessels and oil rigs that change ownership for which no
        export document is filed.

The import adjustments include:

        Inland freight in Canada - An addition is made for inland freight in Canada.
        Imports of goods from all countries are valued at the foreign port of export,
        including inland freight charges ("customs value").  In the case of Canada, this
        should be the cost of the goods at the U.S. border.  However, the customs value
        for imports for certain  Canadian goods is the point of origin in Canada.  The
        BEA makes an addition for the inland freight charges of transporting these Canadian
        goods to the U.S. border to make the value comparable to the customs value as
        reported by all other countries.  Insurance and freight charges for transporting
        goods to the United States from all other countries to the U.S. border are included
        in services by the BEA.  (The same procedure is used for Mexico as an Other
        Adjustment, but is much smaller.)

        Gold imports, nonmonetary - This addition is made for gold sold by foreign
        official agencies to private purchasers out of stock held at the Federal Reserve
        Bank of New York.  The Census data only include gold that enters the customs
        territory.

        Imports by U.S. military agencies - This deduction of U.S. military sales
        contracts is made because the U.S. Census Bureau has included these contracts in
        the goods data, but BEA includes them in the service category "Direct Defense
        Expenditures."  BEA's source material is more comprehensive, but has no
        distinction between goods and services.

	Some smaller adjustments are also made to imports:
        Deductions for repairs of goods and developed  motion picture film.  Additions
        for imported electricity from Mexico, conversion of vessels for commercial use,
        repairs to U.S. vessels abroad, and valuation of prepackaged software imports at
        market value.

SERVICES

The 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.  Transactions with U.S. military, diplomatic,
and consular installations abroad are excluded because they are considered to be
part of the U.S. economy.

Services are shown in seven broad categories.  Types of services for imports and
exports are the same for six of the seven categories.  For the seventh, exports is
"Transfers Under U.S. Military Sales Contracts" while for imports the category is
"Direct Defense Expenditures."  The following is a brief description of the types
of services included in each category:

        Travel - Purchases of services and goods by U.S. travelers abroad and by foreign
        visitors to the United States.  A traveler is defined as a person who stays for a
        period of less than 1 year in a country of which the person is not a resident.
        Includes expenditures for food, lodging, recreation, gifts, and other items
        incidental to a foreign visit.

        Passenger Fares - Fares paid by residents of one country to residents of other
        countries.  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.  Includes
        freight charges, operating expenses that transportation companies incur in foreign
        ports, and payments for vessel charter and aircraft rentals with crew.

        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.  The term "royalties" generally refers to payments for the
        utilization of copyrights or trademarks, and the term "license fees" generally
        refers to payments for the use of patents or industrial processes.

        Other Private Services - Transactions with affiliated foreigners, for which no
        identification by type is available, and transactions with unaffiliated
        foreigners.  (The term "affiliated" refers to a direct investment relationship,
        which exists when a U.S. person has ownership or control, directly or indirectly,
        of 10 percent or more of a foreign business enterprise's voting securities or
        the equivalent, or when a foreign person has a similar interest in a U.S.
        enterprise.)  Transactions with unaffiliated foreigners consist of education
        services; financial services (includes commissions and other transactions fees
        associated with the purchase and sale of securities and noninterest income of
        banks, and excludes investment income); insurance services; telecommunications
        services (includes transmission services and value-added services); and business,
        professional, and technical services. Included in the last group are advertising
        services; computer and data processing services; database and other information
        services; research, development, and testing services; management, consulting,
        and public relations services; legal services; construction, engineering,
        architectural, and mining services; industrial engineering services; installation,
        maintenance, and repair of equipment; and other services, including medical
        services and film and tape rentals.

        Transfers Under U.S. Military Sales Contracts (Exports only) - Exports of goods
        and services in which U.S. Government 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 identified.

        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.

Services estimates are based on quarterly, annual, and benchmark surveys and partial
information generated from monthly reports.  Service transactions are estimated at
market prices.  Estimates are seasonally adjusted when statistically significant
seasonal patterns are present.  No country or area detail is available due to the
lack of adequate source data upon which to base estimates.

The revision policy is as follows:  Each month, a preliminary estimate for the
current month and a revised estimate for the immediately preceding month are released.
After a revised month is released, no further changes are made to that month until
more complete source data become available in March, June, September, and December.
The releases in March, June, September, and December contain revised data for the
previous six months.  The release in March also contains revisions for all months of
the previous year in order to align the seasonally adjusted monthly data with annual
totals.  The release in June contains annual revisions, which reflect updated source
data and changes in estimating methodologies.

Quarterly and annual estimates of services are included as part of the U.S.
international transactions accounts, published in the April, July, October, and
January issues of the Survey of Current Business.  The next release of the U.S.
international transactions accounts is scheduled for December 18, 2006.  The
Survey is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

    MONTHLY RELEASE SCHEDULE

Date                     Day

Aug. . . . .10-12-06     Thursday
Sep. . . . .11-09-06     Thursday
Oct. . . . .12-12-06     Tuesday
Nov. . . . .01-10-07     Wednesday
Dec. . . . .02-13-07     Tuesday

Jan. . . . .03-09-07     Friday
Feb. . . . .04-13-07     Friday
Mar. . . . .05-10-07     Thursday
Apr. . . . .06-08-07     Friday
May. . . . .07-12-07     Thursday
Jun. . . . .08-14-07     Tuesday
Jul. . . . .09-11-07     Tuesday
Aug. . . . .10-11-07     Thursday
Sep. . . . .11-09-07     Friday
Oct. . . . .12-12-07     Wednesday
Nov. . . . .01-11-08     Friday
Dec. . . . .02-14-08     Thursday

ELECTRONIC AVAILABILITY

The FT-900 and supplement are available on the following:

INTERNET  The U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services reports are available
at:  www.census.gov/ft900 or www.bea.gov/bea/di/home/trade.htm.

STAT-USA  The U.S. Department of Commerce's electronic  information facility.
Call 1 800 STAT-USA for product information.

Additional data and information on goods are obtainable from:  Foreign Trade
Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, D.C. 20233

Additional data and information on services are obtainable from:  Balance of
Payments Division, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Washington, D.C. 20230