The Effects of Low-Valued Transactions on the Quality of U.S. International Export Estimates, 1994-1998 (PDF)

This paper uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) to examine the effects that a growth of low-valued transactions likely has on the quality of export estimates provided in the U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services (FT-990) series. These transactions, valued at less than $2,500, do not legally require the filing of export declarations. As a result, they are often not captured in the administrative records data used to construct FT-990 estimates. By comparing industry-level estimates created from the ASM to related FT-990 estimates, this paper estimates that the undercounting of low-valued transactions in the FT-990 export series increases by roughly $30 billion over the period of 1994-1997. It also finds that regression analysis provides little insight into the undercounting issue as results are primarily driven by industries whose contributions to total manufacturing exports are small.

Charles Ian Mead