Finnish Customs celebrates 130 years of collecting data on international trade in goods

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Finnish customs has a long experience in collecting statistics on trade in goods of Finland. International trade statistics provide information on trade in goods between Finland and other member states of the European Union as well as with third countries; i.e. internal and external trade.

Customs, as the sole operator, offers detailed official statistical information on exports and imports of Finnish goods. This year marks the 130th anniversary of the creation of customs statistics.

Customs statistics are part of the monitoring of Finland’s economic situation and the data produced by customs statistics are used as a basis when compiling several other statistics as well as for economic forecasts. The statistics are accessible to everyone on the Customs website and in the Uljas statistics database and they offer various data, for example for research institutes and companies.

– The total values ​​of imports and exports are very important figures that describe the economic development of Finland. Another important piece of information is knowing which countries Finland trades with and how much. More detailed information is also required regarding imported and exported goods. This information is particularly required by companies that engage in international trade, explains director of statistics Olli-Pekka Penttilä.

Figures in Customs Statistical Data are based on exported and imported goods for which companies submit declarations to Customs. Traditional paper forms have already been replaced by electronic declarations. The electronic declaration, which has revolutionized the compilation of statistics, is 50 years old this year. An important advantage for customs statistics is the possibility of direct access to customs clearance data as well as the possibility of assigning the information to be collected in customs declarations.

The need for reliable information was already great more than a hundred years ago – this is still saved

Already under Swedish rule, the state wanted detailed information on the revenue it received from customs clearance and the amount of imported and exported goods. The national trade balance, ie the difference between import and export, was calculated from the material of the customs service. Finnish Customs was given the same task when it was established two hundred years later in the Grand Duchy of Finland. As an aid to decision-making and to the business world, more detailed information was desired, that is to say “complete and reliable trade statistics”. In October 1891, the Senate decided that a Bureau of Customs Statistics would be established, and the bureau began operations in early 1892. Its task was to calculate import and export statistics as well as publish them. The collection of statistics by Customs is considered to have started there.

– The importance of statistics has not diminished for more than a hundred years. On the contrary, customs statistics play an important role as an official source of information, as a precursor to national accounting and as a basis for trade policy. We always work to produce high-quality statistics on Finnish exports and imports and ensure that we provide correct and reliable data, which can be used to make decisions that are in Finland’s best interest, says Penttilä.

Today, customs statistics produce various statistical data and surveys on topics related to international trade.

– Statistics show, for example, rapid changes in demand or national disruptions, for example, Covid-19 masks and vaccines are currently shown as spikes in import statistics. Structural changes in the Finnish export industry are also clearly evident in the statistics produced by customs, Penttilä continues.

Correspondence with statistics from other EU countries

The legislation guides EU internal and external trade statistics on international trade. This ensures that the statistics are based on strictly defined standards which are applied equally in all EU Member States. Statistical data on trade with third countries are obtained from customs clearance systems. Statistical data on trade between EU Member States is collected through a separate procedure called the Intrastat system. Domestic and foreign trade statistical data are published as a single international trade statistics.

The share of Finnish customs in the total data volume of Finnish EU statistics is 43%, which means that customs is the second largest statistical authority in Finland. Customs statistics are compiled by 22 employees and produce annually, among other things, 24 preliminary and monthly statistics, four statistics on business size categories, two provincial statistics as well as statistics on the type of business published once a year . The international trade indices are published at the same time as the monthly statistics. Among logistics statistics, details of transport statistics, transit transport and border traffic are published monthly in the Uljas statistics database. In addition to statistics, Customs Statistics produces different surveys, such as an annual re-export survey as well as international trade surveys of major trading partner countries by country and country category.

To mark the anniversary of customs statistics, a celebratory event will be organized later this year. The statistics are also widely disseminated on the social networks of Finnish Customs and interesting statistical events from several decades are presented there.

Source: Finnish Customs

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