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The Census basis goods data are compiled from the documents collected
by the U.S. Customs Service 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 Service 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's
monthly revisions and align Census and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis's
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
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 December 2003,
these shipments totaled $95.3 million. U.S. export coverage
also excludes certain Canadian postal shipments. For December
2003 the value of these shipments was not available.
2. Valuation -- Canadian imports are valued at 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
December 2003 account for 1.8 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 December 2003, reexports to Canada were $1,908 million.
4. Exchange Rate -- Average monthly exchange rates are applied to
convert the published data to U.S. currency. For December 2003,
the average exchange rate was 1.3128 Canadian dollars per U.S.
5. Other -- There are other minor differences which are statistically
insignificant, such as rounding error.
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 will be 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
The goods data are a complete enumeration of documents collected by the U.S.
Customs Service 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
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, data may be incorrectly keyed, coded
or recorded. Transactions may be included in a subsequent month's statistics if
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
Western Europe - Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Cyprus,
Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Iceland,
Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta and Gozo, Macedonia, Monaco,
Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Svalbard, Jan Mayen
Island, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Vatican City, Yugoslavia.
European Union - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.
Euro Area - Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy,
Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain.
European Free Trade Association - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland.
Eastern Europe - Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic,
Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova,
Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
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.
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). Imports of petroleum and petroleum products are adjusted for the
length of the month. Because of the extremely variable movements of the data series
for aircraft, users studying data trends may wish to analyze aircraft separately from
Adjustments for Price Change
Data adjusted for seasonal variation on a real 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
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
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. 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
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
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
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,
and repairs to U.S. vessels abroad, and valuation of prepackaged software imports
at market value.
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.
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
Other Private Services - Transactions with affiliated foreigners, for which no
identification by type is available, and of 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, repair of
equipment; and other services, including medical services and film and tape
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
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 March 12, 2004. The Survey is available from the Superintendent
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
MONTHLY RELEASE SCHEDULE
Jan 03-10-04 Wednesday
Feb 04-14-04 Wednesday
Mar 05-12-04 Wednesday
Apr 06-11-04 Friday
May 07-13-04 Tuesday
Jun 08-13-04 Friday
Jul 09-10-04 Friday
Aug 10-14-04 Thursday
Sep 11-10-04 Wednesday
Oct 12-14-04 Tuesday
Nov 01-12-05 Wednesday
Dec 02-10-05 Thursday
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/foreign-trade/ or www.bea.gov/newsreleases/rels.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