:: Frequently Asked Questions
Why is this information prepared?
The international trade analysts of the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC, or the Commission), Office of Industries, routinely monitor trade developments in all natural resource, agricultural, and manufacturing industries and in the services sector, enabling the Commission to better anticipate and address issues of concern in its various roles under U.S. trade statutes.* Trade monitoring at the industry/commodity sector and subsector levels (the latter referred to as industry groups and subgroups in this report) is a facet of the research and analysis undertaken by the Office of Industries as part of its responsibility to provide advice and technical information on industry and trade issues.
On August 27, 1993, on its own motion and pursuant to section 332(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1332(b)), the U.S. International Trade Commission instituted investigation No. 332-345, Annual Reports on U.S. Trade Shifts in Selected Industries. The report format was developed by the Commission in response to Congressional interest in establishing a systematic means of examining and reporting on the significance of major trade shifts, by product and with leading U.S. trade partners in all natural-resource, agricultural, and manufacturing industries.
On December 20, 1994, the Commission on its own motion expanded the scope of this study to include selected service industries, thus providing more comprehensive coverage of U.S. trade performance and overall economic competitiveness. Under the expanded scope, the Commission publishes two separate reports annually: Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade and Recent Trends in U.S. Services Trade.
* Major roles include determining whether U.S. industries are materially injured or threatened with material injury by unfair imports, conducting studies on the international competitiveness of U.S. industries, and advising the President and the Congress on the likely effects of trade-policy changes and proposals.
Overall U.S. merchandise trade performance is summarized for the current year and compared to such trade for the previous year. Coverage of the individual merchandise sectors includes data showing U.S. export, import, and trade balance shifts by sectors, industry groups (and in some cases subgroups), and shifts in trade with U.S. trade partners.
The shifts in U.S. trade with each of the top five U.S. trade partners—the European Union, China, Mexico, and Japan—are also presented. In addition, shifts in trade with partners of growing significance—the Republic of Korea, and Russia—are examined. Summary tables detail the important shifts in U.S. bilateral trade and highlight leading changes in industry groups for each of the major trade partners.
A general sector overview is presented for each of the 9 sectors, identifying significant shifts in merchandise trade within the sector. In most cases, significant shifts in specific industry groups or subgroups are also identified. A statistical summary table of industry groups or subgroups is included in each sector analysis chapter, showing absolute and percent changes in a year-to-year comparison for the previous and current years.
For the 2011 report, the USITC is publishing only the trade data, and is reviewing the report's content and analytical aspects to improve its utility for users (and potential users).
Trade statistics are compiled from official statistics of the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce). These statistics are categorized using the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedules (for imports) and Schedule B (for exports) using an international nomenclature system.
Although all import and export data presented in this report are official Commerce statistics, these data may differ from the data presented by other government agencies and private institutions that cite Commerce as the source for trade data. Possible reasons for these discrepancies are as follows:
Sectors are major segments of the U.S. economy (e.g., Agricultural Products, Minerals and Metals). The Commission divides the U.S. economy into 10 merchandise sectors.
Merchandise that is subject to special classification provisions, temporary legislation, temporary modifications proclaimed pursuant to trade agreements legislation, or other legislation. See chapters 98 and 99 of the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (http://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/bychapter/index.htm) and chapter 98 of U.S. Schedule B (http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/) for more information.