UN COMTRADE, or the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database, is a trade database that allows you to access data for over 140 reporter countries detailed by commodity and partner country. It is created from data reported by member countries to the United Nations Statistical Division. UN COMTRADE is the largest depository of international trade data, containing over 1.1 billion records. Time series of data for reported countries starts as far back as 1962 and goes up to the most recent completed year.
Data Organization: All commodity values are converted from national currency into US dollars using exchange rates supplied by the reporter countries, or derived from monthly market rated and volume of trade. Quantities are converted into metric units when possible. Commodities are reported in the current classification and revision (HS 2002 in most cases) and are converted all the way down to the earliest classification SITC revision 1. Therefore, if data is received in HS 2002 version, it is converted to HS 1996, HS 1988, SITC rev. 3, SITC rev. 2, SITC rev.1, and BEC. You are strongly urged to determine a code number for your commodity before beginning to collect the data. See UN COMTRADE's FAQ to selecting a classification system.
The following steps illustrate how to do a basic search and determine the top 5 exporters and importers of a commodity in 2005.
Before beginning, determine the SITC rev. 2 code for a commodity as discussed above under organization. We will use 072, for cocoa.
Check the availability of your data by selecting the "Data Availability" tab. Several options are displayed in the drop down menu, including commodity, reporter, and year. If you are not sure of the coverage of your data query, it may save time to check the availability before building your search with these variables.
At the opening page, click the "Data Query" tab and choose "Basic Selection" from the drop-down links.
Step 1: Choose from the classification options by clicking the button next to your choice.
Step 2: Under the commodities tab, enter the appropriate code and select the classification from the drop down menu. Click "Search" to find subdivisions of the commodity. To see further subdivisions, click the "+" symbol. In order to add these commodities to the search, select them by checking the boxes adjacent to the category, and then choose "Add" at the bottom of the search box. The commodities you selected will appear in the "Selected Items" box on the right of the screen.
Step 3: Click the "Reporters" tab in order to select the country that is reporting the trade of its commodity. Countries may be added by double-clicking on the name of the country, or by single-clicking on the name and then choosing "Add" at the bottom of the screen.
Step 4: Select the "Partners" tab in order to choose the partner country with which the previously selected reporter country is trading the commodity. Notice that "World" is an option as a partner, in addition to "All." Partner countries may be added by double-clicking the name of the country, or by single-clicking the name and selecting "Add," just as in the reporter country selection.
Step 5: Select the "Years" tab in order to choose the time frame for the trade of the selected commodity. UN COMTRADE has coverage from 1962 through 2006; individual years may be selected by double-clicking on them or by single-clicking and choosing the "Add" button at the bottom of the screen. There is also an option for "All" years.
Step 6 (Optional): If you have the need to filter your search results, select the "Others" tab. Here, you can limit the results to exclude or parse out re-export data; filter the trade value in relation to a specific, predetermined number; select the sort order of the data results (example: Year; Flow; Rep.; Comm; Ptnr); or select an aggregation option to keep the quantity unit differences (recommended) or to ignore the differences.
Once all of the steps to building your search have been completed, select "Submit Query" at the bottom of the screen.
The search results screen displays a summary of the query submitted for the search, as well as a drop down menu to change the order of the data displayed search results table.
Several options are available to manage or display the commodity data. There is a "Modify Selection" option which will take you back to the "Basic Selection" screen to change any variable in the data query.
The "View Graph and Map" option will create graphs that display the top 5 exports and imports of the chosen commodity. The data is available in a printable format by clicking the "Printable Format" option. The "View Explanatory Notes" option describes the reported classification and currency, the currency conversion factor, as well as the valuation.
The "Download" option will create a table of the data in Excel. Finally, the "View Not-Available-Data" link will display any data that is not available for your selected parameters.
The "Express Selection" feature is available as an option under the "Data Query" tab. Although Express Selection has all of the same option as the Basic Selection example from above, there are a few additional features. Step 0 enables you to load a saved data query which will fill in the search forms automatically. Step 3 enables you to save the Express Selection query and enables notification of any data updates. A help guide for this feature is available.
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