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On the Accuracy of Economic Observations: Do Sub-Saharan Trade Statistics Mean Anything?

  • Yeats, Alexander J
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    African governments are being urged to promote commodity exports, yet without reliable trade statistics it is difficult to formulate appropriate policies to achieve this goal. This article assesses the accuracy of U.N. trade statistics by comparing the declared value of African exports, plus a transport and insurance cost factor, with partner countries' reported import values. The results show that major discrepancies often exist between the two, with false invoicing and smuggling apparently responsible for much of the difference. Although major disparities exist in data on trade with developed countries, the average differences in intra- African trade statistics are substantially larger. Statistical tests show that these data cannot be relied on to indicate the level, composition, or even direction and trends in African trade. Copyright 1990 by Oxford University Press.

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    Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 4 (1990)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 135-56

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:4:y:1990:i:2:p:135-56
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