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Trade Statistics: Classifications

Trade classifications

Classification Codes: SITC and HS

Sources for trade statistics use one or more standard classification codes to group commodities and products.

  • The Harmonized System (HS), a newer classification code, was devised to incorporate new product types. It has been revised several times since 1988; HS 2012 is the most recent revision. For more information on HS, and to look up product codes, see the World Customs Organization.

How the Codes Work

SITC and HS categorize products in standard nomenclature within a numerical hierarchy. In either code, the level of product detail is indicated by digit level within the classification hierarchy. Two-digit product breakdowns are very general while products expressed at five-digits are quite detailed. For example, in HS:

  • 08 is the class number for Edible fruit and nuts; peel of citrus fruit or melons
    • 0802.12 -- is the class number for Almonds: Shelled

Links Between Classifications

Although many sources now use HS, some also continue to report in SITC. This can be helpful for research requiring time depth, because statistics reported in one classification code may not be readily comparable with those of another.

Tables showing the links between SITC and HS are available in Correspondance Tables at the UN Classifications Registry.

Social Science Data Services and Economics Librarian

Katherine McNeill

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