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Integration of Foreign Trade and Commodity Transport Statistics

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Geo-spatial type
Network corridors
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
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Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The European transport system currently has a serious problem because the variable growths of the different transport modes. The congestion phenomena in some regions and corridors, which appeared at the end of the 20th century, are a real threat for the economic competitiveness. The definition of a common transport policy that allows combining a high economical growth with a sustainable transport system from an economic, social and environmental point of view, is one of the most important concerns for decision makers both at a national and European level.

Despite the important implications that the development of a new transport system has on the social welfare, the European Union and its Member States lack adequate statistical tools that can simulate the effects which can be derived from different possible actions and therefore, to allow the most efficient to be selected.

This project is developed by the Institute of International Economics of the University of Valencia and the Valencia Port Foundation. It is inside a framework in which solid, complete comparable and reliable sources are provided. This framework is a fundamental tool both for the planning and for the launch of common transport policies. In this specific case, they are related to freight goods transport. The determination of the objectives that these policies are willing to reach and the means to attain them requires a huge quantity of precise data (quantitative and qualitative).


The main aim of this project was to contribute to the improvement of the information sources about freight goods transport flows. This objective is achieved by means of the analysis of the possibilities of convergence, both for the transport statistics among them and for the transport statistics with foreign commerce.


The project has been developed in four main activities:

  • a literature review including a careful study of the documentation used in the elaboration of statistics on external trade and of different freight goods transport flows by mode;
  • an analysis of the mentioned available statistics and a consequent comparative analysis of these statistics;
  • the identification of codes shared among data sources that could allow the establishment of a standardised information and the development of a computer application that allows gathering different data sources in a single data source;
  • the presentation and public dissemination of the results obtained.

The research has been basically office-based research. Further statistical analysis of data coming from different sources has provided information about freight goods transport flows. An application has been developed in order to gather all this information.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
CEDEX (Centro de Estudios y Experimentación de Obras Públicas)1; part of the Ministry of Public Works and Infrastructures
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


The results from this project are:

  • the identification of the main advantages and disadvantages that both freight transport statistics by modes and external trade statistics present;

  • identification, through the comparative analysis of the statistics, of the main deviations associated with each data source;

  • an equivalence guide between the different classifications used;

  • identification of the shared codes among the different data sources;

  • development of a computer application in which trade flows and transportation statistics are integrated.

Technical Implications

After an in-depth study of the documentation and information sources used in the development of statistics of foreign commerce and the different modes of transport - air, land (railway and road) and sea - several conclusions have been obtained:

  • Statistical data provided by railway and air transport are not normally publicly available. For this reason, possible relations between these sources and the foreign commerce data base have not been able to be determined;
  • In land transport by the road, two data bases have been identified: "Permanent survey for the road freight goods transport" of the Ministerio de Fomento and "TRANSIT" by the Spanish-French Observatory in the Pyrenees Mountains. In the first cross-border database, only the 2% of the data sample is international transport operations and furthermore, they just collect information from vehicles with a Spanish licence plate. The cross-border database in the Pyrenees mountains is updated every five years and it does not count with the entire data sample (data universe), but several conclusions are obtained from the extrapolation of the sample analysed. Therefore, the different information sources cannot be directly compared;
  • Concerning sea transport, there are two sources of information: the database of State Harbours that are in charge of organising and unifying the information coming from each Harbour Authority. Data with aggregated features of the first database mentioned just allows the development of a simulation tool, while the information of the second database can be integrated with the database of foreign commerce due to the possibility of relating them by means of several fields.

Therefore, it seems to be possible to create a database that integrates the information given with data of foreign commerce that is obtained from the presentation of the Administrative Unique Document (AUD) and with data given by the Charge Manifest and the Download Summary Declaration by the maritime transport.

In case of intra-community commerce operations, the creation of a database that integrates information of commerce and transport would be much more complex. This is due to the use of a different methodology to the extra-EU foreign commerce, the Intrastat Statistical Declaration, system of collection which does not collect the whole universe due to different aspects such as:

  • The "declaration threshold", it conditions the minimum values from which


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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