Proposal to Improve Trade Data
Proposal to Improve Trade Data for the Mozambican National Statistics Institute
Foreign trade data are employed in a number of official capacities by the Mozambique government and international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The data form the basis of monetary controls (exchange rates), fiscal policies, tax collection, and national accounting of industrial and agricultural activities. Moreover, INE trade data are employed by numerous local and international institutions for monitoring the state of the Mozambique economy and for negotiating foreign trade agreements. They also provide important resources for monitoring and evaluating micro- level projects and issues such as industry and agricultural development as well as monitoring unfair trade practices such as price dumping.
Improving the quality and reducing the reporting lag of data reported will have cross cutting benefits and will lead to improved policy decisions and micro-level project performance.
The Instituto Nacional de Estatistica (INE) is responsible for compiling and disseminating national statistics, including foreign trade statistics (imports and exports of merchandize). Today the INE has one staff member dedicated to compiling monthly trade statistics from an array of data collection agencies and private sector participants including the Mozambique customs office, the Central Bank, Mozal and free zones. The INE staff member responsible for compiling these statistics has limited resources to call on for reconciling data irregularities. Data irregularities arise in the course of most statistical compilations and the only question is how they are handled and resolved. Today the INE staff relies exclusively on basic data analysis, on an ad hoc basis, to identify data problems. Duplicate entries are identified by sorting and examining hundreds of thousands of data entries and 20 to 50 fields of data on an individual basis. Some limited analysis is done to identify classification problems.
No documentation of the methodology is maintained in the form of a manual or even a computer program routine. Obvious errors are often, but not always identified. Less obvious problems go unchecked. Often data are not published for 6-8 months after INE staff receives the first installments of data from recipients.
The problems of INE are not unique and are experienced by statistical agencies throughout the world. What is unusual is the INE approach, which has never been systematized or institutionalized. It is therefore of high importance for INE to bring it’s methods into the mainstream which calls for the implementation of modern systems of data analysis and controls.
Another problem, although largely separate, is the standardization and quality of quantitative trade data reported to INE from customs offices. Here the problems appear to be resulting from a lack of data definitions and statistical data requirements.
The proposed TOR aims to bring INE systems for compiling foreign trade data (imports and exports of merchandize trade) into alignment with international standards. The project will result in reduced time lags and improved data quality of foreign trade statistics.