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Steve Johnson1


Forest product trade is extremely important to many countries. Market and sector studies rely on information on trade and trade flows at the international level. Two main systems exist for categorizing products to ensure consistency of reporting between countries.

Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS)

Over 170 countries use the HS for reporting trade flows. The HS is administered by the World Customs Organization (WCO), located in Brussels. The latest revision of the HS was in 1996 (HS96). Revisions require a lengthy process of consultation between all members of the WCO. Trade data reported by countries are compiled by the UN Statistics Division (UNSD) in the COMTRADE database.

Standard International Trade Classification (SITC)

The SITC is administered directly by the UNSD. The latest major revision of the SITC was in 1986 (SITC Rev. 3).

Cross-reference between HS96 and SITC Rev. 3

Product HS 96 Chapter SITC Rev.3 Chapter
Logs, sawn 44 24
Panels 44 63
Pulp 47 25
Paper 48 64
Furniture 94 82
The Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire contains a complete cross-reference between the two systems. Problems with international trade classification systems


Partial reporting

Coding errors

Missing reports

Missing reports require the use of “partner analysis” to estimate trade flows, but this is inaccurate since not all partners report and those that do may make errors.

Data updating

Tropical timber


International trade statistics are very useful but require careful analysis to ensure accuracy.

International Tropical Timber Organization, International Organizations Center – 5th floor, Pacifico-Yokohama, 1-1-1 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Japan 220-0012.

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