Units of measure used in the Automated Export System

Every commodity exported from the United States is classified by a Schedule B number. And every Schedule B is measured by a unit, or two, of quantity. These quantities range from commonplace to strange and esoteric. Here is a breakdown of the quantities used for filing exports.

Most common AES units of measure

  • KG          kilograms (required for 4,013 Schedule B numbers)
  • NO         number (2,400)
  • X             no unit required (982)

No surprises here. The most common units of quantity are kilograms, the most basic international standard of weight, and count. For many commodities, exporters are given a pass and are not required to report any unit of measure.

Length, area and volume

  • M2         square meters (1,039)
  • M3         cubic meters (145)
  • CM2       square centimeters (3)
  • M            meters (12)
  • KM3       cubic kilometers (8)
  • L              liters (94)

It’s hard to visualize anything that could be measured in cubic kilometers. In fact this unit of quantity is reserved for gases: hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, as well as liquefied natural gas. Square centimeters are used to measure glass mirrors and gold leaf.

Weight

  • T              metric tons (244)
  • GM        grams (45)
  • CTN        content metric tons (19)
  • CKG       content kilograms (19)
  • CGM      content grams (14)
  • CAR        carats (10)

A carat is used to measure precious stones, notably diamonds, and is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Wood pulp is measured in content tons and some mineral ores are tracked using content kilograms.

Specialized counts

  • DOZ       dozens (709)
  • PRS        pairs (60)
  • PCS        pieces (51)
  • BBL         barrels (47)
  • DPR        dozen pairs (44)
  • GRS        gross (38)
  • THS        thousands (19)
  • DPC        dozen pieces (4)
  • HUN      hundreds (2)

It isn’t necessarily easy to count things in dozens, but try a dozen dozens, or a gross. A gross is commonly used to measure the number of glass containers.  In contrast, describing something in pieces is straightforward and is used for animal skins.

Weird

  • PFL         proof liters (14)
  • GCN       gross containers (1)
  • DS           doses (2)
  • PK           packs (1)
  • SQ          squares (1)

How many people on the street would know that gross containers are used to measure matches? Proof liters is obviously for alcohol, but squares? Wood shingles are counted in squares.

Really weird

  • CYK        clean yield kilograms (16)
  • FBM       fiber meters (2)
  • GBQ       gigabecquerels (1)
  • MBQ      megabecquerels (1)
  • KTS         total sugar kilograms (1)

The units just get more and more obscure. Clean yield kilograms measures wool and similar animal hair. Becquerels, both giga and mega are used for radioactive isotopes, and fiber meters are a way to measure the length of fiber optic cables.

Weird but not in use

  • CUR       curies
  • MC         millicuries
  • GRL        gross lines
  • IRG         iridium content grams
  • JWL        jewels
  • ODE       ozone depletion equivalent
  • MWH    megawatt hours

Who would have thought someone could export an ozone depletion equivalent. An old U.S. Census Bureau document describes it as “[a chemical’s] ozone depletion potential, expressed in terms of the depletion potential of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11). The ozone depletion equivalent of each chemical is calculated by multiplying its net weight, in kilograms, by the appropriate ozone depletion factor…” Exporting those is not for the faint-of-heart and is best done while wearing a lab coat and safety goggles.