Overview Overview

International trade

Trade statistics track the value and quantity of goods traded between EU Member States (intra-EU trade) and between Member States and non-EU countries (extra-EU trade).

They are the official source of information on imports, exports and trade balance of the EU, its Member States and the euro area.

Uses of the Data

International trade statistics are an important data source for many public- and private-sector decision-makers at international, EU and national levels.

Examples: International trade data can be used to:

  • Inform multilateral and bilateral negotiations within the framework of the common trade policy
  • Define and implement anti-dumping policy
  • Evaluate the progress of the Single Market or the integration of EU economies
  • Carry out market research by businesses and define their commercial strategy
  • Compile balance of payments statistics and national accounts

Data Collection

Traditionally, customs records are the main source of statistical data on international trade. Following the adoption of the Single Market on 1 January 1993, customs formalities between Member States were removed, and so a new data collection system, Intrastat, was set up for intra-EU trade.

In the Intrastat system, intra-EU trade data are collected directly from trade operators, which send a monthly declaration to the relevant national statistical administration.

Information on extra-EU and intra-EU trade is collected monthly by Member States.

External trade data are subject to frequent revisions, as a consequence of errors, omissions or – particularly with the Intrastat system – late declarations by information providers. When data for the latest period are released, revised data for previous periods are also made available.