Discrepancies in International Trade Data

In theory, exports from country A to country B reported by country A should be equal to imports of country B from country A reported by country B. The reality is not so ideal. For example, lets compare data on Russian imports, reported by Russia, to data on exports to Russia, reported by Russian trade partners.

Russia reported that its imports from China and Germany were $48.2 bln. and $38.5 bln. in 2011 correspondingly. At the same time China and Germany reported that their exports to Russia were $38.9 bln. and $49.3 bln. in the same year. It is a 10 billion USD difference in both cases! How is it possible?


There are two general reasons of discrepancies in trade statistics: 
  • different methodology for accounting of trade flows. The main problem here is that some countries in their imports statistics show as partner country the country from which the commodity was delivered, and others in the same case show country, where commodity was produced (the same for exports). All this is a so called trade via third countries, which can be accounted in different ways;
  • fraud declaration of goods at the customs border, aimed to bypass taxation and restrictions.

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Russian imports from major trade partners, bln.US$Exports to Russia from major trade partners, bln.US$

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