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Introduction to Trade Data

Trade data can help companies identify the best countries to target their exporting efforts. Companies can gauge the size of the market for their product as well as develop a price strategy to become competitive.

The official U.S. import and export statistics reflect government and non-government shipments of merchandise between foreign countries and the U.S. Customs Territory (i.e. the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico), U.S. Foreign Trade Zones, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, without regard to whether or not a commercial transaction is involved.

The first step to accessing export and import statistics is to classify the product with one of the following commodity classification codes: Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), Schedule B Number, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), or Standard International Trade Classification (SITC). Each of these classification systems allow you to assign 6-10 digit codes to commodities so that trade data can be collected and analyzed in a consistent manner. For help with any of the terms or concepts, please visit Basics of Trade Data.

Ways to Access Trade Data

Trade Stats Express is a service provided by the International Trade Administration (ITA). “Get the latest annual and quarterly trade data with TradeStats Express.™ Retrieve, visualize, analyze, print and download your customized output.” More on ITA trade products.

USA Trade Online is another trade data service provided by the US Census Bureau. It offers the most current export and import statistics and provides a wealth of detail such as the unit price (quantity/value) of specific products in foreign countries. More on Census Bureau trade products.

The main difference between these two trade data sites is the level of detail each provides in data. TradeStat Express is great for accessing broader information, while USA Trade Online provides a greater level of detailed trade data.

Differences between TradeStats Express (ITA) and USA Trade Online (Census Bureau)


TradeStats Express

USA Trade Online

Commodity Codes Available

HS (2, 4 digit levels)

NAICS (up to 4 digits)

SITC (up to 3 digits)

HS (2, 4, 6, 10 digit levels)

NAICS (up to 6 digits)

Output Display Options

Maps, Graphs, Tables

Graphs, Tables

Download Formats

CSV, Gif for Maps and Legends, Zip files

Delimited, Excel, XML Programs

Time periods availability

Quarterly, Annually

Monthly, Quarterly, Annually

Level of Detail

Trade/Economic Groups

Geographic Regions

Quantity, Value

Port Level Detail

Method of Transportation

Shipping Weight

Market Level Ranking

Most Current Data Available

Months after Official Release

45 Calendar Days after Reported Month; Schedule of Release

Training Materials

Training Videos,

Help Page,

Instructional Manual,

Training Videos,

Live Webinars,

Training Course,

Help Page,

Instructional Manual



Subscriptions Available. Free at local Federal Repository Libraries.

Global Reach Blog

Global Reach is the official blog of the Foreign Trade Division of the U.S. Census Bureau. The blog has several posts related to commodity classification, international trade data our data product USATradeOnline.