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International Trade

(Metadata 1st November 2007)


Collection basis and responsible party:  Until the end of April 2004, Customs Declarations were the main source of Trade Statistics data. As from May 2004 customs collects, inputs and process the basic data for Non-EU Trade, an electronic extraction of which is transferred to the National Statistics Office (NSO) at the end of each month. Intra-EU Trade data is collected from the Supplementary Declaration System. The VAT Department is the legal owner of the data derived from this System. The NSO is responsible for managing the Supplementary Declaration System also known as INTRASTAT. The Intrastat System which was created as a means of collecting Intra-EU trade data came into operation on 1 January 1993 for EU Member States. The NSO is also responsible for checking, analyzing and preparing statistical reports for dissemination.

Legal framework:  The Statistics Act, 2000; the Import Duties Act, chap. 337; the Excise Duties Act, 1955; the Value Added Tax Act, 1998; Legal Notice 131 of 2004 Value Added Tax (Collection of Supplementary Information), Regulations, 2004); Council Regulation (EC) No 638/2004 (Basic Regulation) and Council Regulation (EC) No 1982/2004 (Implementing Regulations) for EU member States; Council Regulation (EC) No 1172/95 (Basic Regulation) and Council Regulation (EC) No 1917/2000 (Implementing Regulations) for External Trade.

Recommendations followed: UN International Merchandise Trade Statistics: Concepts and Definitions (Series M, No 52, Rev. 2) 1998.


System of trade:

  • General trade.
    The goods that are imported directly into, or exported directly from, the free circulation area plus goods that are imported into warehouses or re-exported from warehouses are included in the trade statistics as used for reporting and dissemination purposes.

  • Special trade (relaxed definition)
    The goods that cross the boundary of free circulation area plus the goods that are imported for, or exported after, inward processing are included. All transactions between foreign countries and customs-bounded warehouses and commercial free zones are excluded. Trade data sent monthly to Eurostat for both Intra and Extra data are in this format.

However, the following goods and transactions are excluded:

  1. direct transit trade,
  2. personal and household effects except those attracting duty,
  3. fresh fish caught by Maltese fishing craft,
  4. goods sent or received by diplomatic missions in Malta,
  5. repairs,
  6. services,
  7. monetary gold, legal tender (securities, bank notes, coins in circulation),
  8. advertising materials and commercial samples provided they are not subject to a commercial transaction,
  9. temporary transactions where no processing is planned or made, and duration is no longer than 24 months,
  10. emergency aid for disaster areas

These exclusions are generally in accordance with the international recommendations and do therefore not represent an exception.

Treatment of specific movements of goods:

  1. Repair of means of transport. Not included.
  2. Supplies to own armed forces overseas. Not included.
  3. Industrial plant. Not included.
  4. Staggered consignments. Not included.
  5. Bunker supplies. Not included.
  6. Ship's stores. Included.
  7. Joint productions. Not included.
  8. Postal consignment. Included.
  9. Vessels and aircraft. Included.
  10. Deep-sea fishery. Not included.
  11. Motor vehicle and aircraft parts. Included.
  12. Installations at sea. Not included.
  13. Military goods. Not included.
  14. Petroleum products. Included.


Statistical value: Exports: FOB-type value. Imports: CIF-type value.

Exception Threshold

An annual exemption threshold for the arrivals and dispatches of goods to and from Malta and the Member States of the European Union is established by the VAT authorities. Traders and enterprises whose value of annual gross merchandise arrivals and dispatches of goods to and from Malta, falls below this threshold, are exempted from providing supplementary information about their Intra-EU transactions. Traders and enterprises whose value of annual gross merchandise arrivals and dispatches of goods to and from Malta exceeds the said established threshold, have to provide regular information about their transactions. Currently the Exemption Threshold is Lm300 (€698.81).


Intra-EU and Extra-EU trade data are compiled on a monthly basis.


Trading partners:
Imports: Country of Origin of the goods for External Non-EU Trade
Arrivals: Country of Consignment of the Traded Goods between EU Member States
Exports: Country of Final Destination for External Non-EU Trade
Dispatches: Country of Final Destination for Intra-EU Trade

Country nomenclature:

  • The EU Geo-nomenclature (based on the ISO 3166 alpha - 2)


    All NSO work in this area is guided by the confidentiality clause of the Malta Statistics Authority Act XXIV of 2000. Efforts are made not to publish data that can directly or indirectly be linked to identifiable individuals, enterprises or products.


    Product nomenclature:

    • The Combined Nomenclature is the goods classification used within the EU for the purpose of foreign trade statistics. It is also used by Directorate General “Taxation and Customs Union” of the European Commission for customs duty purposes. The classification is maintained by Eurostat for the statistical aspects and by Taxation and Customs Union DG for the tariff aspects.
    • The product classification codes are based on the Combined Nomenclature (CN) which is based on the World Customs Organization's Harmonize System Code (HS). Headings in the CN are identified by means of an eight-digit numerical code the first six of which are in full agreement with the HS code. The very considerable number of subdivisions within the CN was introduced with the EU's specific customs and foreign trade statistics requirements in mind. The CN is revised annually and, as a Council Regulation, is binding on the Member States. It appears in all EU official languages.
    • The Standard International Trade Classification (SITC Rev.3) is used for aggregated data dissemination and analytical purposes. This nomenclature is managed by the United Nations. A link is available from SITC Rev.3 to CN.
    • Statistical Nomenclature can be found following this link:

    General Description of the System:

    Integration of Data from three different databases -  Intrastat's Supplementary Declarations, the Customs Electronic System (CES/MEX), and Asycuda (up to November 2006). Some trans-codification of variables is necessary here to fully integrate the data.

    Data validation is carried out in two main steps First Run: Checking of all records with a high value exceeding 99,999, Checking is also carried out on selected product codes such as fuel, gold and currency notes, and certain Countries of Origin or Destination. As a second  run all records are checked for correctness with various IT tools and statistical concepts.

    Introduction of other nomenclatures such as SDG  which is part of the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC Rev 3). SDG stands for Section, Division and Group; and the United Nations Statistical Division's BEC code (Broad Economic Classification) for data dissemination purposes.

    Volume of Trade (Ref Period Jan-Dec 2006)

    • Approx. 31,988 Arrivals/Imports records per month
    • Approx. 4,608 Dispatch/Exports records per month
    • Approx. Number of Importers 5,757
    • Approx. Number of Exporters 1015
    • Number of Intrastat Web Users including agents (1Nov 2007) 1638

    Dissemination of Trade Data

    • Monthly News Releases
    • Yearly Trade Data on CD Rom
    • Online Trade Database at HS4 1995-2005 on
    • Ad Hoc data requests from Government Departments/Ministries, Financial Institutions, Industries, General Public, Media, Diplomatic Missions, Eurostat Comext Database and other International Bodies (UN,FAO, WCU and IMF)


  • Eurostat eGovernment Survey Website Level A conformance icon, W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 at time of deployment