4. Data Dissemination in DOTS, Magnetic Computer Tapes, and CD-ROM

International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
March 1993
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Direction of trade statistics are published in quarterly and yearbook issues of DOTS and in monthly magnetic tapes;1 a CD-ROM is planned. All data published in DOTS and tapes are drawn from the direction of trade statistics data base, the content of which has been outlined in section 3 of this guide.

4.1 DOTS Quarterly Issues

The quarterly issues of DOTS present, in order of appearance, (1) a table of country and area codes, (2) an introduction outlining the methodology and content of the publication, (3) three summary tables showing exports and imports aggregated for the world, industrial countries, and developing countries, each as a group, and (4) approximately 135 country pages showing current data or estimates on imports from and exports to each country’s most important trade partners.

4.1.1 World, industrial, and developing countries tables

The DOTS quarterly issues present three summary tables showing exports and imports aggregated for the world, the industrial countries, and the developing countries, each as a group. Data cover three years, eight quarters, the two most current months, and the corresponding months of the previous year. See section 3.3 for a methodological description of the compilation of these tables.

4.1.2 Country pages

Country pages show imports to and exports from the most important trading partners, selected on the basis of import and export data over the past two or three years, for each country. These country page data may be supplemented by estimates2 whenever reported data are not current or available in monthly frequency.

Symbols may appear to the right of figures for trade between two partner countries to indicate sources for individual countries. Figures without symbols are data reported from the respective country’s own records. Symbols will not appear for (1) totals calculated for groups of partner countries, (2) the table for the world, or (3) tables for groups of countries. (Explanations for symbols are given in the introduction of the DOTS quarterly issues.)

Also on the country pages, the data are aggregated in totals for the area and world. (Classification of countries accords with the IMF country classification shown in Appendix I.) In addition, world totals published in IFS for exports and imports are shown on individual DOTS country pages for comparison purposes. Area totals for oil exporting countries and non-oil developing countries are shown as memorandum items.

A standard set of seven reference periods is shown for all countries: Two columns relate to the most current months (e.g., with a delay of five months or fewer from the actual publication month), and five columns relate to the most recent quarters (e.g., with a lag of two quarters from the actual publication quarter), allowing the comparison of the data for the most recent quarter with that of the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

4.2 DOTS Yearbook

In addition to four quarterly issues, a DOTS yearbook is published by the Fund, usually in late June/early July of each year. Besides a country code guide and introduction, the yearbook presents (1) summary and analytical tables, showing trade flows for the world and major areas, and (2) approximately 160 country pages, providing detailed trade-by-country data on exports and imports for the most recent seven years.

4.2.1 World and area summary tables

The DOTS Yearbook presents summary tables for the world and 11 areas. The world and area summary tables, calculated from the country data, are shown in two parts: Part A and Part B. The Part A summary tables, on the left hand pages of the yearbook, focus on the area’s trade with individual countries; the Part B summary tables, on the right-hand pages, focus on individual countries’ trade with areas (see section 3.3 for a more detailed description of these tables).

4.2.2 Country pages

The individual country pages present data with all of a country’s trading partners (rather than with a shortened list of partners, as in the quarterly issues). Most data are reported by the national authorities before the cutoff date. If reported data are not available, estimates are used (see section 3.2 for a description of the estimation procedure). Estimates are first computed for months, where possible; annual totals are then obtained by summation.

Annual estimates, or any combination of reported data and estimates, are marked with a special symbol following the respective figures for the individual country (these symbols are listed in the introduction to the DOTS Yearbook). The world and area totals may thus include reported data and estimates.

The totals for exports and imports as published in IFS are shown on the individual country pages for comparison purposes. Area totals for the oil exporting countries, the nonoil developing countries, and the European Economic Community are shown as memorandum items.

A number of analytical lines, included at the end of the tables, are calculated from the value data shown for the respective area or country. One set of lines shows the percentage distribution of the area’s or country’s exports to and imports from selected areas; the sum of the percentage figures is often less than 100, because the shares for special categories and for unallocated trade are omitted. The other set shows the annual percentage change in total exports and imports and also in exports to and imports from each of the selected areas.

4.3 Tape Subscription and CD-ROM

The Fund offers to users interested in machine readable data a tape subscription to Direction of Trade Statistics. A subscription provides 12 tapes a year, issued monthly. Computer tapes contain practically all time series maintained in the direction of trade statistics data base. The data offered on the tapes combine the yearbook’s coverage in terms of countries and partner countries with monthly, quarterly, and annual frequency.

Tapes are available in two densities: (1) DOTS-A (1600BPI), on which annual entries begin in 1978 and monthly entries begin in 1986, and (2) DOTS-B (6250BPI), on which annual entries generally begin in 1948, quarterly entries begin in 1960, and monthly entries begin in 1965, which includes estimates starting in 1981. Each subscriber also receives a COBOL source program, which reformats the series on the tape and extracts three additional programs from the tape for retrieving and printing the time series. General information on this service is available in the Fund’s Publications Catalog. Detailed information is available in the Fund’s Computer Tape Subscription Documentation.

The Fund is planning to release DOTS on CD-ROM (compact disk—read only memory). Downloading the data will require a CD-ROM reader device to be connected to a microcomputer. The DOTS CD-ROM will contain the entire direction of trade statistics data base.

Inquiries on DOTS publications and subscriptions should be addressed to: Publication Services, International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C. 20431 U.S.A., telephone (202) 623-7430.

See section 3.2 for a description of the estimation procedure.

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