How to Access U.S. Import and Export Trade Statistics

aerial view of shipping containers

The U.S. Census Bureau on Foreign Trade is the official source for U.S. import and export statistics. It is responsible for issuing regulations governing the reporting of all export shipments from the United States. As the site indicates, if you are searching for import or export statistics, information on export regulations, commodity classifications, or a host of other trade-related topics, this is the place to get the information you need. Let’s examine seven of its key offerings.

U.S. Census Bureau on Foreign Trade Resources

1. Global Reach

Global Reach is the official blog of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division.

2. Newsletters

TradeSource is chockfull of information that relates to international trade. For example, its most recent edition explores the export potential of the U.S. services sector and programs throughout government that represent real opportunities and sales channels for businesses to enter new markets, how to connect U.S. service companies to global markets and how Ex-Im Bank supports U.S. small businesses with exporting financing for both the goods and services industries. A useful read whenever you have time.

AES covers a broad range of topics, including how to report heavy machinery, how Schedule B goes green, and what a foreign trade zone identifier field is. Every issue explodes with valuable international trade information.

3. AESDirect

AESDirect serves as an online Internet filing system.

It’s free, allows users to file Electronic Export Information (EEI) one at a time on the Internet, does not require a software or hardware investment and can immediately check a computer’s minimum system requirements (your computer must be capable of running one of the web browsers they list on their schedule).

AESDirect also provides easy registration and, should you need training, they’ve got that covered too with user guides, online or in-person training and export training videos.

4. DropBox

DropBox allows you to download foreign trade data files that are subscription files or customized requests ordered through their Data Dissemination Branch. You merely enter the file name in a field and press the button ‘Retrieve this file.’

5. Guide to Foreign Trade

Everything you want to know about foreign trade statistics is here. What’s unique about this data is the information is compiled from automated forms and reports filed initially with the U.S. Customs Service or, in some cases, directly with the Census Bureau, for virtually all shipments leaving (exports) or entering (imports) the United States. Exports to Canada are compiled from Canadian import data.

Contents are as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Description of Foreign Trade Statistical Program
  • U.S. Merchandise Trade: Special Reports, Services, and Data Products
  • Conversion Tables and Units of Quantity
  • Country Groupings
  • Reference Aids

6. Foreign Trade Products

Here you can order current data (Merchandise Trade, State and Port Data and Special Products) or select historical data (similar options to current data) for earlier periods by checking the box next to the name of the data product. Click the report name for product descriptions and record layout. Select frequency (e.g. monthly, annual, quarterly). Go to the bottom of the page and click on the submit button.

For historical data products, follow the same steps, and click the checkbox to select years.

7. USATrade Online

USATrade Online is considered the official source for U.S. Merchandise Trade Data.

You can access current and cumulative U.S. export and import data for more than 18,000 export commodities and 24,000 import commodities. USATrade Online provides trade statistics using the Harmonized System (HS) up to the 10-digit level and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) commodity classification codes up to the 6-digit level.

When you subscribe to USATrade Online, you can obtain monthly and annual trade statistics at the district and port level, as well as state exports. This powerful tool allows you to build customized reports and charts that will keep you on the leading edge of global competition.