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Briefing on China Customs Statistics

In China, Customs is responsible for the collection, processing, compilation and  dissemination of the country’s external merchandise trade statistics - known as Customs statistics. Customs is mandated to do so by the Customs Law of the People's Republic of China which stipulates that compiling Customs statistics is one the four basic functions of China Customs (along with goods control, duty and excise collection and anti-smuggling).

Organizational Structure

The Statistical Department (SD) is an executive unit within CGA responsible for drafting regulations and procedures of external trade statistics; organizing nation-wide trade statistical operations; processing compiling and disseminating China’s trade statistics; conducting trade analyses. There are five divisions in the SD: General office, Methodology and data verification; Customs data management, Trade analysis; Customs enforcement assessment.    

At each of 41 customs districts throughout the country is established a statistical office responsible for trade data collection, verification, processing and transfer to CGA. Currently, there are around 1000 officials working upon trade statistics within China Customs.

Compilation Method

Since 1 January 1980 CGA has adopted the concepts and definitions recommended by the United Nations for use in international trade statistics contained in the IMTS.

Trade system and statistical territory

General trade system has been used for recording China's external trade since 1995. Prior to 1995, special trade system was used in China.

The statistical territory of China's external trade statistics coincides with the customs territory of the People's Republic of China that doesn't cover those separate customs territories of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.


Customs statistics comprise all merchandise passing through the customs territory of PR.China with the exceptions mentioned below.

The following classes of goods are excluded from Customs statistics:

temporary imports or exports;

goods on lease for less than one year;

personal effects of travelers;

goods consigned to diplomatic missions;

confiscated contrabands;

goods in transit through China.

Prior to 1995, goods entering bonded warehouses were not recorded as China's imports until being withdrawn from the warehouses for home use. Since 1995 such goods have been recorded as imports when being placed into the warehouses from abroad.

Commodity classification

China Customs statistics were classified using a 6-digit code based upon SITC Rev.2 for the years of 1980-1991. Since 1992 an 8-digit code classification based upon the HS has been used for collecting and compiling trade statistics. The current statistical nomenclature which based on HS 2002 version, contains around 7000 8-digit commodity subdivisions: the first six digits correspond to the HS, the 7th and 8th digits are national subheadings established for the purposes of tariff, trade statistics or trade policy measures. SITC Rev.3 is used for trade analysis.


Imports are valued on a cif basis and exports on a fob basis.

Trading partner

The country of origin is reported for imports and the country of final destination is reported for exports.

The country of consignment is also recorded for imports and exports as additional information.

Time of recording

Imports and exports are recorded on the date when the goods are cleared from Customs.

Data Collection and Processing

China customs statistics are compiled from the declarations submitted to the Customs by importers or exporters.

The declarations are verified by Customs officers at entry ports and forwarded electronically through Customs Automation Entry System to relevant Customs Districts for further examination and clearance. Data elements for compiling trade statistics are extracted and verified by the statistical offices, and afterwards transmitted on line from all Customs districts to the computer center of CGA on a monthly basis.

The statistical elements taken from declarations include commodity code and description; quantity; value; partner country (origin, final destination, consignment); customs regimes; type of enterprises; domestic destination for imports; production location for exports; customs districts of clearance; mode of transport.

In order to ensure the accuracy of trade data, CGA has developed editing programs that check the data before they are being released (e.g. data error checking, logical checking and price checking). The reported codes are validated against lists of acceptable codes. Some of the fields to be validated include the HS code, statistical value and quantity, trading partner and customs regime. More restrictive lists of acceptable codes for specific transactions are also made out. Errors detected may be

corrected directly by the statistical offices or through contact with data suppliers.

Data Dissemination and Uses

CGA reports monthly provisional trade data and trade performance analyses first to the State Council, and then releases to public through news media within 13 days after the reference month. Detailed data are available within 25 days after the reference month. Two regular publications on China’s external trade statistics are edited by CGA, in Chinese and English, and issued internationally, i.e. China’s Customs Statistics, Monthly and Yearbook.

CGA provides trade data to a variety of internal and external users, including government institutions, international organizations, commercial enterprises, researchers and individuals. Data could be provided in formats of hard copies, magnetic tapes, diskette or CD-ROM, as requested.

Customs statistics are mainly used in the government’s macroeconomic policy making, trade negotiations, compilation of BOP statistics, economic analyses in the framework of the system of national accounts, as well as in the market research and analysis by importers and exporters. They play a growing part in policy making and trade promotion with the development of China’s market economy.

  China Customs
   Address: No.6 Jianguomennei Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China