Summary: Foreign trade statistics have been greatly affected by the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the economic transformation that the newly independent states are now undergoing. Previously, the measurement of physical commodities in compiling foreign trade statistics was emphasized. Adequate systems for measuring trade in services or financial flows were almost nonexistent. The foreign trade system in the former Soviet Union relied on one currency and an administratively established exchange rate. A few large foreign trade organizations managed all transactions, and domestic producers and consumers were largely sheltered from foreign market forces. The statistical system was well suited for measuring foreign trade under such conditions. But economic transformation has necessitated the development of new mechanisms to measure the foreign trade of fifteen independent states with separate currencies and exchange rates determined predominately by supply and demand. The new system will also have to adjust to the abolishment of the large foreign trade organizations and the entrance of many new enterprises, the increased importance of trade in services, and increased financial flows between the new independent countries and the rest of world. The Bank wants to improve the quality and reliability of foreign trade statistics of member countries for two reasons: first, it relies on foreign trade statistics for economic and sector work, analysis of economic conditions, and dialogue with borrower countries. Second, along with the International Monetary Fund it provides technical assistance to borrower countries in several areas, including the proper compilation, recording, and dissemination of statistics on foreign economic relations. For theses reasons a seminar on foreign trade statistics was organized (Moscow, June 1994) for statisticians, staff from customs services, and others involved in compiling foreign trade statistics from the fifteen countries of the former Soviet Union. Some participants were asked to present background papers at the seminar. The chapters in this volume are based on these papers. Because an understanding of foreign trade statistics is crucial to those involved in compiling statistics as well as policymakers, analysts, and the private sector both inside and outside the countries of the former Soviet Union, the book is presented in both English and Russian.
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