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Definition: International trade statistics

External trade

International trade statistics, as produced by Eurostat, measure the value and quantity of goods traded between the Member States of the European Union (known as intra-EU trade or Intrastat) and goods traded by the Member States of the EU with third countries (known as extra-EU trade or Extrastat). They are the official harmonised source of information about imports, exports and trade balance of the EU and of its Member States as well as of the euro area.

As international trade forms an important part of the world economy, statistics on the trading of goods are therefore an instrument of primary importance for numerous public and private sector decision makers.

For example, international trade statistics:

-- enable Community authorities to prepare multilateral and bilateral negotiations within the framework of the common commercial policy;

-- enable Community authorities to evaluate the progress of the Single Market and the integration of EU economies;

-- constitute an essential source of information for balance of payments statistics, national accounts and economic studies;

-- help EU companies to conduct market research and define their commercial strategy.
Eurostat, "Quality Report on International Trade Statistics", Collection "Methodologies and working papers", Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2010