June 20, 2018 / 11:09 AM / 3 months ago

China audit office tells customs selling trade data is a 'problem'

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s National Audit Office has ordered customs to remedy its practice of collecting revenues from selling trade data and other services to third parties that it claims is a “problem.”

It was not clear what the audit office wants customs to do exactly, but it sheds some light on the absence of detailed trade figures usually released monthly by customs to clients including Thomson Reuters.

The commodities trade statistics for April from the world’s top buyer of oil, metals and grains was initially due to be released on May 23 but has not yet been issued.

The company which collates and sells the data, China Cuslink Co Ltd, which is operated by customs, was ordered to delay publication indefinitely due to technical reasons, three officials at the company told Reuters earlier this month.

China’s General Administration of Customs had collected 5.6 million yuan ($865,185.55) between 2016 and 2017 for providing data to outside buyers, the audit office said in its annual audit of 53 central government departments and agencies released on Wednesday.

It also got paid 11.2 million yuan for providing import and export data to trade companies, according to a statement on its website.

The report described the revenue collection as a “problem” and said customs had been ordered to handle the issue.

The delay in the release of the detailed monthly trade data has coincided with a mounting trade spat between China and the United States.

Customs must publish a detailed report on how it plans to remedy the problem of data sales, according to the audit office report.

Reporting by Meng Meng and Dominique Patton; Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.

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