Imports and imported value of goods (merchandise) are goods that add to the stock of material resources of a country by entering its economic territory. Goods simply being transported through a country (goods in transit) or temporarily admitted (except for goods for inward processing) do not add to the stock of material resources of a country and are not included in the international merchandise trade statistics. In many cases, a country’s economic territory largely coincides with its customs territory, which is the territory in which the customs laws of a country apply in full.
Goods admitted free of duties are exports of goods (excluding arms) received from developing countries and admitted without tariffs to developed countries.
There is no established convention for the designation of developed and developing countries or areas in the United Nations system. In common practice, Japan in Asia, Canada and the United States in North America, Australia and New Zealand in Oceania and Europe are considered “developed” regions or areas. In international trade statistics, the Southern African Customs Union is also treated as a developed region and Israel as a developed country; countries emerging from the former Yugoslavia are treated as developing countries; and countries of eastern Europe and European countries of the former Soviet Union are not included under either developed or developing regions.
As agreed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Committee for Development Policy, decides on the countries to be included in the list of least developed countries (LDCs). As of January 2003, they include Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, D. R. of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Saõ Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, U.R. of Tanzania and Zambia; Asia and the Pacific: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao P.D.R., Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Yemen; Latin America and the Caribbean: Haiti.
Goal 8. Develop a global partnership for development.
Target 12. Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system. Includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction—both nationally and internationally.
Target 13. Address the special needs of the least developed countries. Includes: tariff and quota-free access for least developed countries’ exports; enhanced programme of debt relief for HIPCs and cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous ODA for countries committed to poverty reduction.
Target 14. Address the special needs of landlocked countries and small island developing States (through the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the outcome of the twenty-second special session of the General Assembly).
Target 15. Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term.
The indicator monitors the international effort made to remove barriers to trade for developing countries, to encourage the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Poor people in developing countries work primarily in agriculture and labor-intensive manufactures, sectors that confront the greatest trade barriers. Removing barriers to merchandise trade, therefore, could increase growth in these countries by a significant amount.
Method of computation
To value their exports, countries can choose free-on-board (f.o.b.) values, which include only the transaction value of the goods and the value of services performed to deliver goods to the border of the exporting country, or cost, insurance and freight (c.i.f.) values, which add to this the value of the services performed to deliver the goods from the border of the exporting country to the border of the importing country. It is recommended that imported goods be valued at c.i.f. prices for statistical purposes. Specific duties—not expressed as a proportion of the declared value—may or may not be included in calculations of goods admitted free of duties.
Data collection and source
This indicator is calculated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in collaboration with the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, from the Trade Analysis and Information System (TRAINS) CD-ROM, version 8 (2002).
World Trade Organization Database, Integrated Database
Trade Analysis and Information System (CD-ROM), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
International Merchandise Trade Statistics—Concepts and Definitions, series F, no. 52, rev. 2, United Nations (United Nations publication sales no. E.98.XVII.16, paras. 14 and 115-116), for import goods.
System of National Accounts, 1993, United Nations, Commission of the European Communities, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and World Bank, series F, no. 2, rev. 4 (United Nations publication sales no. E.94.XVII.4, para. 7.66), for import duties.
Country or Area Codes for Statistical Use, United Nations Statistics Division, series M, no. 49, rev. 4 (United Nations publication sales no. M.98.XVII.9) (unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm).
International data comparisons
Data discrepancies across countries limit international comparison.
Comments and limitations
Indicator data available only at the world level.
World Trade Organization.