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Exploring the accuracy of international trade statistics

Author

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  • Basim Makhoul
  • Samuel Otterstrom

Abstract

This study provides a comprehensive investigation of statistical discrepancies in generally accepted international trade figures published by the IMF between 1948 and 1994. We calculated export over- and underestimation for each country and all of their bilateral trading partners. By keeping totals for over- and underestimation in separate categories we avoided the cancellation effect of aggregating positive and negative discrepancies among partner countries. In general, the results show a significant improvement in the quality of trade data over time. However for many countries, relatively large discrepancies still exist that defy technical explanations, such as the CIF-FOB margins. Also, because export over- and underestimation coexist for most of the countries at varying degrees, use of the aggregate sum of the discrepancy might disguise the actual magnitude of the problem. A significant difference exists in the relative magnitude and dispersion of trade discrepancies between OECD countries and non-OECD countries. Trend analysis suggests that the accuracy of trade data is improving at a faster rate in the non-OECD than in the OECD countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Basim Makhoul & Samuel Otterstrom, 1998. "Exploring the accuracy of international trade statistics," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(12), pages 1603-1616.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:30:y:1998:i:12:p:1603-1616
    DOI: 10.1080/000368498324689
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Buehn & Mohammad Reza Farzanegan, 2012. "Smuggling around the world: evidence from a structural equation model," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(23), pages 3047-3064, August.
    2. Hamanaka, Shintaro, 2011. "Utilizing the Multiple Mirror Technique to Assess the Quality of Cambodian Trade Statistics," Working Papers on Regional Economic Integration 88, Asian Development Bank.
    3. M. d. MAR RUBIO & CÉSAR YÁÑEZ & MAURICIO FOLCHI & ALBERT CARRERAS, 2010. "Energy as an indicator of modernization in Latin America, 1890-1925," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(3), pages 769-804, August.
    4. M. del Mar Rubio Varas & Mauricio Folchi, 2005. "On the accuracy of Latin American trade statistics: A nonparametric test for 1925," Economics Working Papers 879, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

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