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Trade Data: Data Sources

Aggregated Data

Here are examples of a few general printed sources to help get an idea of total trade flows between countries or commodity flows into or out of a single country, but not commodities from one specific country to another specific country.  Sources for that sort of detailed data are described in the tight-hand column.

Direction of Trade Statistics. Yearbook and Direction of Trade Statistics Quarterly
From the International Monetary Fund (IMF); available through the IMF eLibrary as PDF documents.

Data also available through a custom extraction tool at the IMF Data site.

Also in paper: Most recent Yearbook at Perkins/Bostock Ref. Desk HF1016 .D574  For paper or microfiche Quarterlies, see catalog.

FAO Statistical Yearbook.
From the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Good overview of trade movements of agricultural commodities.

Includes contents of the former FAO Yearbook.Trade, which is also available in paper. Paper goes back to 1958 under various titles at HD9000.4 .T7.  The Yearbook of Food and Agricultural Statistics includes both trade and production statistics before then, back to 1947 at HD1421 .Y4 (at LSC).

International Trade Statistics Yearbook. Perkins/Bostock Ref. U.N. ST/ESA/ STAT/ SER.G/
From the United Nations.

Latest edition in Reference UN (Perkins Reference, 1st Floor), older at LSC.

WTO Annual Report.
From the World Trade Organisation.

Also available in paper through 2012, see catalog

Commodity-Level Data

UN Comtrade
Coding: Several versions of Harmonized System and SITC
Years:  Back as far as 1962.

See the help guide for instructions on using this product. 

Pros:  Can look at trade flows between any two countries.  Several choices of commodity codes.  Has quantity (weight or unit measure) data as well as value data.  Can use anywhere on the web (will require NetID login when away from addresses).
Cons:  Only has data for member countries, so will lack Taiwan. Interface can be awkward.

International Trade by Commodities Statistics (ITCS)
Available through the OECD iLibrary database (ITCS link on left side of screen)
Coding: up to 10-digit Harmonised System (1988- ) or up to 5-digit SITC (1961-1988)
Years: 1961- , for most OECD countries

Produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).

Pros: Can get data at several levels of aggregation. There are reports for most industrialized countries, with any other country in the world listed as a trading partner.  Taiwan is one of included trading partners (not included in most IGO data sources).
Cons:  An OECD member nation or one of a few other nations (e.g., China) must be one of the country-to-country partners, so you can't get data where both trading partners are less developed countries.

U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) Trade Database
Coding: up to 10-digit Harmonized System; up to 5-digit SITC
Years: 1989 to present

Pros: On the web: can access it from anywhere. Can get very specific or aggregated data. Can get monthly, quarterly, or annual data. Can get value or quantity data. Can download the data in several popular formats to import into spreadsheets.
Cons: The USA must be one of the trading partners.

Coding and Years depend on the specific dataset, which are mostly provided as ASCII delimited files.

Scroll down to the section on "International Trade Data" for a variety of digital datasets (most related to U.S. trade), some with data back to 1958.