From this month, the commerce ministry will stop a two-year-old practice of releasing preliminary goods trade data before firming up the usual “quick estimate” for each month.
It has decided to revert to the earlier system of releasing only the “quick estimate” of monthly trade, after the two sets of data showed significant variations in recent months.
For instance, while the more-reliable “quick estimates” showed exports rose 1.6% and 4.8% on year in August and September, respectively, the preliminary data had suggested a 1.1% and 3.5% contraction for these months. In July, the quick estimate suggested a rise of 23.5%, against that of 16.8% in the preliminary data. Even import data went through changes, so did the estimates of trade deficit.
“The idea is to avoid sending conflicting signals on trade performance,” said an official.
The preliminary estimates, released in the first week of a month, are usually based on trade data collected from the EDI (electronic data exchange) ports. The quick estimates, however, are released around 15th of each month. These are based on data from both EDI and non-EDI ports, hence the differences between the two sets of data. Even the quick estimates are subsequently updated once more trade data flow in.
Government officials have often said that the delay in the collection of data from non-EDI ports and some special economic zones cause the variations.