let's say I'm analyzing the import of France and it is 100 billion dollars and is divide between 200 countries. how should I gauge where has most of the import come from? top 10? 90 percent of the import? what should be used as a measure here?


1 Answer 1


If I understand you correctly, you are asking how to find out which countries' exports have most significantly contributed to a given country's (say, France's) imports.

I have recently completed some research on gravity models of trade, and in the process I ended up having to compile various datasets on precisely the topic you are raising.

The United Nations Comtrade International Trade Statistics Database has an easy-to-use interface where you can download bilateral trade data between a "reporter" country (France) and "partner" countries from Rest Of World.

Here: https://comtrade.un.org/data

Set the relevant year, set "Reporter" $\to$ "France", set "Partner" $\to$ "All", and set "Trade flows" $\to$ "Imports". Then you can download a cleaned .csv file on which you can run basic summary statistics and do some data analysis (such as finding the top-10 country exporters to France, etc.).

Broadly labeling where "most of France's imports come from" is an ambiguous task. Are you referring to a measure that uses a single country or perhaps a continent? It really depends on what your research question/methodology is. Can you provide some more details?

  • $\begingroup$ Hi, thanks for taking the time to answer my question, I'm looking for an accepted methodology to define "most" import/export. lets say in some case top 10 may be 20% of the entire import, sometimes maybe top 2 is 70% of the export. if I want to give a measure of most of import or most of export, how should I calculate it? 90% of the entire import value? there are different ways to go at it $\endgroup$
    – yasiren
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ There is definitely no explicit consensus in the international trade literature as to what percentage of import volume corresponds to the "most" imports. Usually, however, "most" means any amount over 50%. So not knowing any other specifics, I would interpret "most" exports to mean exports totaling over 50% of the given import volume. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ ok, thank you very much for taking the time and answering, I really appreciate it! $\endgroup$
    – yasiren
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ "It really depends on what your research question/methodology is." Use your judgment. If you don't have a particularly well defined research question, looking into the sectoral composition of imports (if the data allows it) might help to decide. For example, you might decide to list the top 10 origin countries of imports instead of just the top 5 if number 8 and 9 have a strong sectoral composition that is of interest. Or you could set a threshold such as 1%, 2% or 5% of imports and not worry about how many countries end up in the analysis by that criteria. For example ... $\endgroup$
    – nathanwww
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 2:07

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