Glossary:General and special trade systems

There are broadly two approaches, closely linked with customs procedures, used for the measurement of international trade in goods. These are the general trade system and the special trade system.

The general trade system is the wider concept and under it the statistical territory includes customs warehouses, all types of free zones, free circulation area and premises for inward processing.

The special trade system, on the other hand, is a narrower concept. Customs warehouses, all types of free zones and premises for inward processing are excluded from the statistical territory by the strict definition of the special trade system; thus only imports and exports of the free circulation area are recorded. The relaxed definition of special trade adds industrial free zones and premises of inward processing to the statistical territory.

The EU concept related to extra-EU trade follows the relaxed definition of the special trade system, whereas intra-EU trade is close to the general trade system.

Note that some EU Member States publish their national figures using the general trade concept.

Further information

Statistical data