UN Comtrade, the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database, is one of the most comprehensive trade databases. It provides detailed import and export statistics with over 1.7 billion records and over 170 reporting countries. These statistics are classified according to the SITC (standard international trade classification), Harmonized System, and Broad Economic Categories, and are used for, among other things, determining the importance of commodities in terms of world trade and trade negotiations.
The database includes the following topics:
- Food and live animals
- Beverages and tobacco
- Crude materials, inedible, except fuels
- Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials
- Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes
- Chemicals and related products
- Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material
- Machinery and transport equipment
- Miscellaneous manufactured articles
- Commodities and transactions not classified elsewhere in the SITC
The values of these goods are converted to U.S. dollars, while their quantities are measured by the metric system. The database takes the current classification/revision and converts it to its earliest classification to enable users to gather long-time series results. It is important to know into which classification the commodity you are looking for will fall. Some will only be available in the newer classifications such as HS2002 and commodities such as PCs and mobile phones. Overwhelming, right? Don’t worry, there are step by step guides listed in the First Time user guide that can help you navigate your way through the database.
The nice thing about the UN Comtrade website is that all users have free access to it and have a download limit of 50,000 pages per data query. There is no limit to how many data queries a user can do. Additionally, all users can use Comtrade Explorer, where you get an instant overview based off of a country name and commodity. You can refine from there. To explain methodology and how these statistics were calculated, the section UN Comtrade Knowledge Base explains the database’s functionalities, concepts behind the data, and why imports and export differ. For questions concerning how-to’s and reviews from other users, you can utilize the UN Comtrade Community Forum. Need answers now? Get instant online support with the live help feature.
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If you want to download more data, you can sign up for premium access. (There are special categories that do not have a 50,000 page download limit, including registered institutional users: academic institutions, governmental and non-governmental agencies, NGOs, and some developing countries listed on the IDA list). However premium access members can not only download more data, but they may also save queries on the system, make and save country or commodity groups on the system, customize the download layout or schedule execution of certain queries at regular intervals. You may seek premium access on the UN Publication website or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.