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Publication Detail
Physical and Monetary Methods for Estimating the Hidden Trade of Materials
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Chen W-Q, Ma Z-J, Pauliuk S, Wang T
  • Publisher:
  • Pagination:
  • Journal:
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Status:
    Published online
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The hidden trade of a material (e.g., aluminum) refers to the trade of that material embedded in final products (e.g., automobiles). There are two methods for estimating the hidden trade amount of materials: (1) the physical method relies on the physical trade data (measured by physical units) in which products are categorized according to the standard international trade classification codes or the harmonized system codes; and (2) the monetary method relies on the monetary trade data (measured by monetary units) in which products are categorized in accordance to the sectors of an input–output (IO) table. Information on material concentrations in products can be relatively quickly estimated by an IO-based model in the monetary method, but will have to be collected from various sources with intensive time cost in the physical method. Exemplified by the U.S. hidden trade of aluminum, iron, and copper in 2007, this study attempts to compare the two methods. We find that, despite the unavoidable but reasonable differences in the amounts of three metals trade, the results generated by the two methods are consistent with each other pretty well for final products at the level of end-use product groups (e.g., total transportation facilities). However, the comparison for specific products (e.g., automobiles) is challenging or does not generate consistent enough results. We suggest that similar estimations be done for more materials, more countries/territories, and different years, to gain experience, reduce estimation time and costs, and increase the knowledge base on metal flows in society.
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