The WHDB (Welthandels Datenbank — World Trade Database) of the BWK (Austrian Federal Economic Chamber) is a specialised information service which provides Austrian firms, companies and governmental institutions with information and data about worldwide commodity trade statistics. Its second function is to be a leading source for introducing new information media into the department, such as developing a company profile CD‐ROM. Only a few parameters are of crucial significance in describing a request for information in the field of import and export statistics. Nevertheless the process of choosing the right source to satisfy the user's demand is often rather tricky and very dependent on experience and skill. In the process of reorganising this information service from a rigid, programmed, host‐oriented inhouse data service of the early 1980s to a customer‐oriented information service for the 1990s, using online and CD‐ROM sources, a number of investigations were made to locate the relevant sources and to evaluate their significance for this service. As a result, a survey of sources of statistical import and export data will be presented. Another result is the perception that attributes like accuracy, precision and individual tuning have priority over offering large amounts of data, automation and sophisticated statistical methods. We concluded with a model of a combined system using internal sources for automatic explorations and external sources for accuracy and flexibility.
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