I was looking at import/export data between the Cayman Islands and the Netherlands on tradingeconomics.com (tradingeconomics.com/cayman-islands/imports/netherlands) and (tradingeconomics.com/netherlands/exports/cayman-islands).

Why does the Cayman Islands record only several million dollars in imports from the netherlands while the netherlands records several hundred million dollars in exports to the cayman islands?

I see the same discrepancy with trade between any 2 countries, but this is the greatest difference in import/export data I have seen thus far.

Can anyone explain to me why there is such a large difference between the two values?


1 Answer 1


In UN COMTRADE, imports are recorded cif (cost insurance and freight) while exports are fob (free on board). This may represent a 10% to 20% difference. Despite all efforts made by national and international agencies, data quality may vary among countries.

Source: World Bank

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for your response. How would you explain the several hundred million dollar difference between the Cayman Islands and the Netherlands, being around a 5000% difference? $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2023 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't look at it properly but it's the cayman islands. There GDP is smaller than most medium sized enterprises. They will hardly spend money on measuring it decently. Even sizeable countries have very big differences. For example, in 2001 Pakistan reported USD 236 millions exports to China while China was reporting USD 557 millions. $\endgroup$
    – AKdemy
    Jul 26, 2023 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ Awesome, thanks for the help. So accounting rules are more like guidelines anyway. I guess it's only appropriate that the major difference in export vs import data is due to boats/ships exported from the Netherlands and that this takes place in the Caribbean. (obvious pirates of the caribbean reference). $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2023 at 18:29

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