First World Statistics Day

20 October 2010

First World Statistics Day

Brussels, 20 October 2010

Press Release

Today the World Customs Organization (WCO) joins the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD) in celebrating the first World Statistics Day to raise awareness of the many achievements of official statistics premised on the core values of service, professionalism and integrity.

Customs administrations around the world either publish trade statistics themselves or play a critical role in their compilation as Customs records are the main source of these statistics which are acknowledged by the United Nations as vital to the compilation of global statistics.

This year the United Nations Statistical Commission adopted new recommendations for trade statistics known as “International Merchandise trade statistics: concepts and definitions 2010” which recommend that statisticians use Customs records as the main and normally preferred data source.

The WCO’s main instrument to facilitate the collection, comparison and analysis of statistics is the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, popularly known as the Harmonized System or the “HS”, which provides for the systematic and uniform classification of goods.

With 138 Contracting Parties to date, the HS Convention is one of the most succesful instruments developed by the WCO with its international goods nomenclature now being used by more than 200 countries, territories, and Customs or Economic Unions as a basis for the collection of trade statistics.

Under the Convention, Contracting Parties are obliged to make their import and export trade statistics publicly available in conformity with the six-digit Harmonized System codes or beyond that level if they wish, thereby promoting a predictable global trading system.

The WCO also recommends that its Member Customs administrations as well as Contracting Parties to the HS Convention report their import and export trade statistics to the UNSD as the world’s premier depositary for global statistics.

“As an international standard with global application, the Harmonized System plays a key role in facilitating world trade which is recognized as the engine for economic growth,” said WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya. “The WCO and its 177 Members are proud to be a part of the statistics community and pleased that Customs’ contribution enables world trade to be managed more effectively,” added Mikuriya.

“Statistics play a crucial role in the fulfilling of the United Nations’ global mission of development and peace,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message marking World Statistics Day. “They are a vital tool for economic and social development, including our efforts to achieve the Millenium Development Goals,” he stressed.

Trade statistics are critical to government administration, forming among other things the very basis for monitoring and evaluating economic performance, for formulating trade policies, and for providing policy makers with reliable data used in international trade and regional integration negotiations.

They also provide national governments and other key trade stakeholders with statistical trends on revenues collected on imports, exports and from excise, which facilitates revenue forecasting thereby leading to enhanced development planning and better budgeting.

In adopting its new recommendations for trade statistics, the United Nations Statistical Commission “requested that greater attention be given to the strengthening of institutional arrangements in countries to ensure that proper national coordination mechanisms exist for the compilation of high-quality international merchandise statistics”.

The WCO remains committed to assist and guide its Members in implementing the HS through an all-encompassing Customs capacity building programme and calls on them to apply rigorous processes in compiling and publishing trade statistical data, as the international community comes together to celebrate World Statistics Day 2010.