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There is a ton of open data available on how much of a particular good is imported/exported. So, let's say I have 20 years of data on how many tomatoes are imported to each country in Scandinavia? Who might care, and what theoretical insights on international trade are supported by such data?

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  • $\begingroup$ Collecting tariffs on trade is a worthy purpose for the state. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Jan 4 '16 at 12:45
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Studies in international trade are already using trade data at a particularly disaggregated level, at the transaction level.

For instance, this very new paper on Global Firms points out that research in international trade has changed dramatically over the last twenty years, as attention has shifted from countries and industries towards the firms actually engaged in international trade. They outline a framework that allows firms to be of positive measure and to decide simultaneously on the set of production locations, export markets, input sources, products to export, and inputs to import. They use this framework to interpret features of U.S. firm and trade transactions data and highlight interdependencies across these margins of firm international participation.

However, their data is from the U.S. Customs Bureau data and quite confidential. Can you give the source of "ton of open data available on on how much of a particular good is imported/exported"?

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  • $\begingroup$ Good question. I believe businesses must declare their imports and exports on tax forms using the Harmonized System Codes. I'll look into and get back to you. Thanks for your interesting answer, must take the time to research it. $\endgroup$ – Hexatonic Feb 7 '16 at 18:56
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If data are computed, it usually means that they are of some use to someone.

In your case, it might be interesting if you are involved in agricultural products trading, if you want to open a new brand of restaurants in Scandinavia, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ But wouldn't those question fall under the realm of market research in business? Economics deals with questions of some area of general social concern, no? $\endgroup$ – Hexatonic Jan 5 '16 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ @PederJakobsen indeed, such data might be more widly used by business than economic theorists. However, the purpose of the agencies who publish these data are usually to provide information to the general public, and not to a specific target (being business, scientists, households). Still, economics can have a very practical approach and doesn't need to be theoretical to be called that name, nor to deal with general social concern. It can focus on specific and narrow areas. Not many would argue that Nobel Prize Engle's theories about ARCH volatility deal with general social concern $\endgroup$ – Hector Jan 5 '16 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ I hear you. By the lack of answers to my question, it doesn't seem like this question holds much interest for economists. I wonder how I could rephrase it. $\endgroup$ – Hexatonic Jan 5 '16 at 14:53

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