Differences between data published by the Czech Statistical Office and Eurostat - International trade in goods (change of ownership)
Users interested in trade links between individual countries can use both data published at the national level by the Czech Statistical Office (CZSO) and data published at the international level by Eurostat and another international organisations. Each source provides data which is different, to some extent, and this may cause uncertainty for the user. There are two main reasons why such published data may differ:
- Methodological reasons = a different economic interpretation
- Terminological reasons = a different use of terms
For the CZSO, the change of ownership is decisive
Statistics on international trade in goods (change of ownership – also called “ITiG”), as presented by the CZSO, are based on the same data sources as data presented by Eurostat. Both outputs are based on monthly data collected in the Intrastat system and in customs statistics collected by the Extrastat system. Both systems are closely monitored and regulated by the EU. The main difference between data published by the CZSO and by Eurostat has to do with a different methodological way of capturing trade (i.e. what is international trade) and thus, with a different macroeconomic interpretation. The CZSO presents data on international trade in goods based on the notion of international trade as a change of ownership between Czech residents (Czech companies) and non-residents (foreign entities). From this perspective, goods are considered to have been exported from the Czech Republic when a Czech entity (resident) sells such goods to a foreign entity (non-resident). Similarly, if a resident buys goods from a non-resident, the goods are considered to have been imported into the Czech Republic.
International Trade in Goods (Change of Ownership) data published by the CZSO thus describes actual trade in goods between Czech and foreign entities. Exports and imports are defined by the change of ownership between residents and non-residents in relation to the traded goods. International trade in goods statistics thus describe the exports and imports performance of the Czech economy from this perspective and about the foreign trade balance of the Czech economy.
When calculating international trade in goods from the point of view of change of ownership, the CSZO needs to rely on cross-border “raw” data. This means that this data must be adjusted, so as to avoid including transactions carried out on Czech territory only (or mainly) between non-resident units (foreign entities), i.e. those foreign entities that operate in the Czech Republic but are not established here and do not pay income tax as Czech residents. Given the central geographical location of the Czech Republic within Europe and due to low labour costs, there is a growing use of warehouses and logistics centres located in the Czech Republic, which are established mainly for supplying (Central) European markets. Quite logically, such warehouses are associated with significant movements of goods across borders. A considerable amount of goods flows through these warehouses and crosses the Czech border. If goods are transported by a non-resident to a central (or distribution) warehouse only for subsequent redistribution to another country, there is often no change of ownership between the non-resident and a Czech resident and it is important to avoid including such transactions in international trade in goods statistics. Such transactions should only be associated with the export of services (warehousing services, packaging services etc.), the value of which is recorded in the current account of the balance of payments and the goods and services account in the national accounts. In the international trade (in goods) of the Czech Republic (which refers to the change of ownership between residents and non-residents, and not the crossing of the national border), only the values of transactions corresponding to the value of local services provided should be recorded, i.e. not the total value of goods that physically "passed through" the Czech Republic and across its national borders without changing ownership between a resident and non-resident.
Raw “cross-border” data pertaining to non-resident units thus needs to be adjusted on the basis of data from other administrative data sources, which is VAT returns. In the case of transactions by non-residents, purchases and sales between non-residents pertaining to goods in the Czech Republic can be identified from their VAT returns. Only the value of goods actually sold by non-residents to Czech residents should then considered to be an import of goods. This value represents the realized sales (realized trades) and thus replaces the original values of the cross-border movements of goods reported by non-residents (in Intrastat and Extrastat systems) when crossing the border into the Czech Republic (and reflected in the “raw” data sources used by the CZSO). The situation is very similar in the case of exports. The value of goods purchased by foreign entities (non-residents) on the territory of the Czech Republic from residents is considered to be an export.
More detailed information on the methodology is available on the CZSO website under this link:
International trade in goods (change of ownership) - methodology
For Eurostat, the cross-border movement of goods is decisive
In the International trade in goods section of the Eurostat database (often referred to as foreign trade in goods), Eurostat presents data that is based on Intrastat and Extrastat "raw data", i.e. purely on cross-border movements of goods (“CBmG”), which may not be consistent with the change of ownership data, as described above and presented by the CZSO.
The Eurostat data therefore refers only to the physical cross border movements of goods, regardless of whether there is a change of ownership between a Czech resident and non-resident entity.
The CZSO also presents data for “cross border movements of goods” – while it may seem that the data presented by Eurostat out to be easily comparable to the cross-border data published by the CZSO, some differences can be identified here as well. The differences are due to the fact that while the information provided by Eurostat is largely harmonised, Member States may publish data based on other (national) concepts and definitions. For example, when tracking transactions in a structure according to individual countries, the CZSO publishes imported goods in the CBmG and in the ITiG according to their country of origin (this is referred to as the “national concept”). On the other hand, Eurostat reports “imports” on the basis of the partner country, i.e. the country of dispatch, which is known as the “community concept”. This is the most significant example of various differences which arise.
More detailed information on this issue can be found on the CZSO website under this link:
Differences between data published by the Czech Statistical Office and Eurostat - Cross border movements of goods
Internationally comparable data
A user who would like to find internationally comparable data on international trade in terms of change of ownership in the Eurostat database has to search for imports and exports of goods and services in the section on national accounts, under GDP and main aggregates. This data is also published under the same terms by the CZSO, specifically in the National Accounts.
What to watch out for
On the CZSO website you can find the tables based on data published on the Eurostat website. Specifically, these tables can be found on the CZSO website in the section Czech Republic in International Comparison (Selected Indicators). On the Eurostat website it is possible to find these data in the section GDP and main components (output, expenditure and income). Data for imports and exports of goods and services in this section are based on the change of ownership concept, i.e. they respect the change of ownership between residents and non-residents. However, these data are compiled according to the national accounts methodology, i.e. they are methodologically closer to data presented by the CZSO in the section National Accounts - GDP by expenditure method. Although the terminology “imports” and “exports” is the same as in international trade statistics, there are certain methodological differences. These differences are explained in more detail on the website: Changes in the publication of International trade data (Frequently Asked Questions). Therefore, these data do not correspond in any way to the data presented by the CZSO on its website in the International Trade section due to a completely different concept of compiling such statistics.
Therefore, when using data which seems to be international trade data, it is essential to consider their correct interpretation to avoid unnecessary confusion for users, as there not all exports and not all imports are created equal.
If you are not sure about terminology, we have prepared a useful tool for this purpose in the section “Using international trade statistics terms correctly”.
The representatives of the International Trade Statistics Department are also available for further professional consultations.