The integrated system of international economic classifications

In order to compile internationally comparable statistics, the classifications used clearly need to be harmonised. One of the key tasks of international statistical offices is therefore to compile relevant nomenclatures and to revise existing nomenclatures.

The nomenclatures thus created represent an integrated system of statistical economic nomenclatures, which interconnects product nomenclatures as in a modular system. A comprehensive central product nomenclature that includes goods as well as services was also created. A consistent classification system that enables economic activities and products to be evaluated integratively has thus been developed. The individual classifications are harmonised and interconnected at worldwide, European and national level.

D:\OutlookTemp\orgplan_wirtschaftsklas (8).gif

D:\OutlookTemp\orgplan_wirtschaftsklas (8).gif

It is useful to distinguish between the worldwide level and the EU level. The statistical classifications recommended for worldwide use are compiled by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) in New York, while the European classifications are compiled by the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat) in Luxembourg.

ISIC Rev. 4

(International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities) is a hierarchically structured classification of economic activities and is recommended for worldwide use. Since it is also intended to be applicable to developing countries, the degree of detail is not as great as is usually the case with national classifications of economic activities.

NACE Rev. 2

(Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community) is the classification of economic activities applicable in the EU (EEA). Within the operation 2007 NACE Rev. 2 was developed as a fundamental revision of NACE Rev. 1.1. It full harmonised with the ISIC Rev. 4 and hence it can also be regarded as the European version of ISIC Rev. 4.

CPC Ver. 2

(Central Product Classification) is the central product classification recommended for worldwide use and has five hierarchical levels. It includes both goods and services, with goods being defined on the basis of elements of the Harmonised System. There is no modular relationship to a base classification for the service sector, since the CPC was the first classification to be created (as part of the 1990s revision) that covered all services. Within the operation 2007 CPC Ver. 2 was developed as a fundamental revision of CPC Ver. 1.1.

CPA 2008

(Statistical Classification of Products by Activity in the European Economic Community) is the European version of CPC Ver. 2. In contrast to the CPC, the CPA follows the structural breakdown of the classification of economic activities, i.e. individual products are classified directly according to their industrial origin. CPA 2008 thus has a similar hierarchical structure to NACE Rev. 2 (“symmetry”). However, it distinguishes two further hierarchical levels.

The Harmonised System (HS) forms the basis not only for the definition of material goods in the CPC but also for the international classification of goods for foreign trade published by the United Nations (SITC Rev. 4) and for the external trade nomenclature applicable in the EU, known as the Combined Nomenclature (CN).

Combined Nomenclature

The Combined Nomenclature was introduced at the same time as the Harmonised System and is composed of 8-digit numerically coded items. The large number of subdivisions conform to special customs requirements and to EU statistical requirements relating to external trade. The Combined Nomenclature is revised annually.


(Production Communautaire) denotes the EU system of production statistics in mining and manufacturing. The most important part of these production statistics is the production classification on which they are based, known as the PRODCOM list. This list is compiled annually by the PRODCOM committee. The items in the PRODCOM list are defined by the Harmonised System and the Combined Nomenclature. Items are coded using an 8-digit code, the first six digits of which are identical to the CPA code. The PRODCOM list is therefore directly linked to the central product classification.