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Collection and routine analysis of import surveillance data with a view to identification of emerging risks



At the EU level, Eurostat‟s Comext database reports trade statistics of product mobility between Member States of the European Union and between Member States and third countries. At an international level, the United Nations, through the Comtrade database, reports trade data from its member countries. This report describes the definitions and the methodology used in these two international trade statistics, with a view to understanding the reasons for discrepancies. Five case studies of trade data for selected food commodities (i.e. frozen shrimps and prawns, fresh or chilled mackerel, cereals, live swine and intra-EU trade) were examined in order to assess the potential of trade data for identifying emerging risks. The Eurostat Comext database has been found to be a tool that could assist in the identification of emerging risks in combination with data coming from other sources, including the Comtrade database. Expert judgment is pivotal for selecting the most appropriate food commodities during a search, interpretation and evaluation of the weaknesses of trade data, as well as their relevance to data from other sources. Recommendations are made for the requirements of a system covering EFSA‟s mandate for automatic scanning of the Eurostat Comext database. Such a system should provide alerts to the users, indicating for example i) significant increase of the volume of a given product over time to a specific MS or EU in total ii) new trade partners iii) new food or feed commodities entering the EU.