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Report on the Statistical Discrepancy of Merchandise Trade between the United States and China

In April 2004, the 15th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) established a statistical working group. Participating units from the Chinese side include the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese General Administration of Customs; the U.S. side includes the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In view of the unusually large and growing statistical discrepancies in the bilateral merchandise trade data officially published by two countries, the initial focus of the working group was to examine the bilateral merchandise trade statistics between China and the United States. Members agreed to conduct a reconciliation study, using recent data, to explain and quantify the statistical discrepancies in the bilateral merchandise trade data. The goal of the study is not to alter the official statistics of either country, but to identify the causes of the statistical discrepancies in the official data of the two countries, and to facilitate a common understanding by data users of the actual situation of the bilateral trade and the causes of the statistical discrepancies in the bilateral trade data. Adjustments made to statistical data, to achieve mutually agreed upon sets of trade figures, do not imply errors in the statistical systems of either country. Neither do the adjustments represent revisions or corrections to either country’s published trade figures.

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