1. The statistics offices in the region utilize state of the art technology for processing their trade data, and report producing statistics on a regular basis. The periods of publications are monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, annually, and semi-annually, but vary amongst countries.
2. The warrants presented by importers and exporters to the customs departments for the clearance of goods is the main source of trade data in each country. After checking and processing, a copy of the warrants is placed in batches and forwarded to the statistics office, usually on a monthly basis.
In some countries, the data is also forwarded on electronic medium.
3. At the statistics offices, the data is verified and input to their computerized systems. The systems carry out several validity checks on the data, prior to addition to the databases.
4. The nomenclature used by almost all the customs departments is the 1996 Harmonized System (HS);. At the statistics offices, the HS codes are mapped to their equivalent SITC Rev. 3 codes for the production of trade reports.
5. Two systems, currently implemented by many countries in the region, can make valuable contributions to this project. These are the ASYCUDA customs system (used by fourteen member states); and the Eurotrace National statistics system (used by eight);.
6. There are approximately One Hundred and Forty One (141); Officers working on trade statistics. Of these, One Hundred and Two (102); are occupied in the capturing of trade data and Thirty-Nine (39); in the production of trade statistics.
7. All countries analyze their trade data by country of origin and country of destination.
8. Most countries record transport data in their databases such as country of origin/consignment/destination, net weight, means of transport (air, ship etc.);, and country of registration of the carrier. The name of the carrier is not stored but is available on the customs warrant.
9. All countries use in-house computers for the processing of their trade statistics. In most cases, the computer/s is/are dedicated to this application. Except for two (2); countries, no additional hardware should be required to meet the additional need for providing trade data to this project.
10. Provided the additional tasks to be carried out for the extraction of data at the national statistical offices are kept to a minimum, it is likely that no additional staff would be required for the purpose of extracting and forwarding data to ECLAC for the proposed system.
11. Except for the Country and Currency codes, the many codes used in the countries are not standardized. This is a drawback which the project will have to address. It is recommended that the UN international codes should be adopted, and that data from the national statistics offices be mapped to these codes.
12. The study suggests that the best source for obtaining trade data for the regional databases is the national statistics office in each country. The statistics offices collect data for the entire country's trade and carries out extensive checking on the accuracy of the data.
13. Tables which would be needed in the proposed system such as Correlation tables (HS-SITC Rev. 3);, Currency codes, and Country codes can be taken from the Eurotrace system, instead of repeating the lengthy and costly tasks of re-keying and checking.
14. Member States provide their trade statistics to international and regional organizations such as the UN Statistics Division, ECLAC, International Monetary Fund, CARICOM, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, and the Organization for Eastern Caribbean States.
15. A risk factor to the sustenance of this system would be the failure of countries to forward their trade data on a timely basis to ECLAC for updating its databases and preparing statistical reports.
16. The Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); and the Economic Committee of West African States (ECOWAS); communities have developed regional databases and produce regional trade data, accessible on the Internet. The project is urged to research these developments.