MEDSTAT IV – Regional Workshop on Statistical business register and business surveys (Athens, 11-12.04.2017)

Business and economic surveys in the ENP-S countries

The work carried out by MEDSTAT IV regarding the sector of Business registers and statistics develops under two main themes. The first one concerns the creation and the regularly updating of the register itself and the second targets the design and implementation of business and economic surveys.

Most of the year 2016 has been concentrated on assessing the situation of the ENP-S countries in the area and on discussing the conditions for having a reliable and quality statistical business register. Such a register is crucial to draw samples of businesses on which the surveys may then be based. The workshop that was held in Athens on 11 and 12 of April focused on economic surveys.

Statisticians from the ENP-S countries specialised on business and economic surveys were gathered to exchange experience and to discuss the methodologies used by some European countries (France and Italy). Two EU experts, Mr Manlio Calzaroni (ISTAT – Italie) and Mr Jean Marc Beguin (INSEE – France) were invited to moderate the workshop and to answer to the specific questions raised by the ENP-S countries.

Several recommendations were made by the participants at the end of the workshop to improve the quality of their work and to design and to implement national action plans in this field of statistics. Among the issues that should be given more attention in the future are, among others, the following:

  • the drawing of representative samples, by sector and region, from the SBR. It may sometimes be necessary to replace one unit of the sample by another, due to a no reply or a false address,
  • Using when and where possible, for certain sectors, administrative sources instead of a more costly direct survey,
  • The use of technological tools to minimize errors and save time and personnel, such as (i) tablets for surveys instead of paper questionnaires requiring not only verification but also time and personnel for data entry, (Ii) appropriate software for the quality of responses, the detection of errors and their automatic correction,

The Italian experience regarding surveys of the informal sector was highly appreciated and strongly discussed. The participants expressed the wish to make a study visit to ISTAT (Italy) under the MEDSTAT IV project,

The afternoon of the second day of the workshop was dedicated to discussing the Arabic translation of the glossary of the United Nations SBR Development Manual. The translation of technical terms was reviewed in details and a consensus was reached for a final Arabic version.

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MEDSTAT IV – National Strategy for the Development of a Statistical Business Register, Technical Assistance (Amman, 3-4.05.2017)

Of the nine ENP-South countries participating in the MEDSTAT IV project, four expressed their wish to receive technical assistance to design a national strategy for the development of a statistical business register and a roadmap for its implementation. The four countries were Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Palestine.

In the framework of the MEDSTAT IV project, it was decided to organize a technical assistance mission in Amman from 3 to 4 May 2017 that would bring together participants from the 4 countries. Before coming to Amman, they will first have to prepare a draft strategy for setting up a statistical business that is feasible according to the context and constraints of their respective national statistical systems, which will be discussed and finalized during the meeting.

The objective of the technical assistance is to improve the understanding of the Guidelines on Statistical Business Registers from the UNSD and to discuss the practical application of these recommendations.

Some of ENP-S countries are already well advanced in the implementation of a statistical business register but they still lack of tools to match/compare  administrative files from different sources, or still face problems linked to the identification of the businesses.

The participation of the representative of ISTAT (M. Manlio Calzaroni) will focus on the various steps to be followed without the development of an SBR, as described in the manual and will give practical insights on these issues.  Each country will bring two representatives in Amman under MEDSTAT IV funding. Palestine, decided to finance on its own budget two additional persons from the PCBS.

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MEDSTAT IV – Training Course on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Italian Geographical Society (Rome, 04-06.04.2017)

Three days of training on GIS and statistics led by trainers from the Research and Development Unit “Geography and Statistics, Population and Health” of the Italian Geographical Society.

The training course took place in Rome, Italy on 4-6 April 2017 at the Mattei Palace, a 16th century building inside the Villa Celimontana and seat of the Italian Geographical Society. Participants from National Institutes of Statistics of ENP-South countries had the chance to learn, or to improve their knowledge, about the most used applications of GIS for the production, dissemination, and analysis of statistical data. It was also a unique opportunity for countries to share their experiences on the use of geo-information for statistics in their respective Institutes, and to be updated on the latest worldwide developments for the integration between geospatial and statistical data.

The participants shared their experiences on GIS in their National Statistical Institutes.

The training agenda included topics such as grid statistics and degree of urbanization, online tools for the management and integration of geospatial and statistical data, mobile methods and techniques for statistical data collection, use of GIS in censuses and in statistical sample surveys, statistical geospatial frameworks, European geospatial standards, and role of geospatial data to support the definition and monitoring of SDG indicators for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Lessons and discussions were supported by presentations of case studies and by practical exercises carried out by the trainers directly with GIS software.

Group photo of the participants in the training course.

All the participants expressed high satisfaction for the knowledge and skills acquired during the course, and most of them called for more training on specific topics and applications of GIS for statistics. They committed themselves to share the outcomes of the training with the management and colleagues in their respective Institutes, in line with the training approach followed by the MEDSTAT IV Project. From both side, trainers and trainees, was acknowledged the importance for more integration of spatial and statistical data for analysis and the formulation of development policies.

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MEDSTAT IV – Joint Regional Energy/Transport Workshop on “The development and production of new transport and energy performance indicators”

Creating synergies between Energy and Transport statistics in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals

The 035. photo WS Brusselsproduction of statistics is largely compartmentalised and there are few opportunities for the specialists from different sectors to share concerns and to discuss potential collaboration. However, there are obvious synergies that may be generated, leading to a more comprehensive and articulated approach to the production of statistics. These synergies were at the centre of the discussions organised in Brussels in March 28-30 by the MEDSTAT IV project between the sector of energy statistics and the sector of transport statistics. The Workshop gathered statisticians from the National Statistical Institutes and from the Energy and Transport Ministries. It was the first time in the long history of the EU-MED cooperation in statistics and of the MEDSTAT projects that two sectors were brought together. Their challenge was to discuss how they could collaborate for developing new performance indicators in these two sectors, in relation in particular with specific Sustainable Development Goals.

First, the participants from each of the sectors presented in turn what they were doing in addressing the monitoring of performance in their sectors. This was the occasion to discuss the previous achievements regarding Energy efficiency indicators for the energy sector and the Economic performance indicators for the transport sector in each of the ENP-S countries. But what started as a one way exchange turned rapidly into a concrete two ways dialogue between the sectors on indicators linked to both the energy and the transport statistical systems, such as the indicators for the monitoring of energy efficiency in the transport sector.

The dialogue benefited from experiences and lessons brought by representatives from ITF-OECD regarding transport performance indicators, as well as from the International Energy Agency regarding recommendations for the production of energy efficiency indicators and from the Environment and Sustainable Development Ministry from France regarding the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the system of monitoring indicators for the SDGs developed in this European country.

At the end of 3 fruitful days of exchange, the mutual understanding was dramatically increased between the two sectors and the participants agreed upon strengthening the production of key indicators in their respective sectors and working together in their respective countries on the production of specific common indicators addressing energy efficiency in the transport sector. They also recommended that the cooperation between the two sectors of the project be continued and intensified through more common regional events and joint outputs such as a MEDSTAT IV publication on Energy and transport performance in the perspective of SDGs.

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MEDSTAT IV – Regional Workshop on Methodology for Statistics of International Trade In Merchandise

Adjusting the statistical production of the ENP-S countries to the new international standards for the production of statistics on trade in merchandises.

photoComparability in space (among countries) and in time (chronological series) is a key requirement for the relevance of the production of external trade statistics. By essence, external trade statistics measure a relation between a country and the rest of the world and thus their scope goes beyond national borders. The respect of internationally agreed methods is thus an essential challenge for the relevance of the data produced. When changes are made in the international recommendations, they must crucially be implemented by all the countries to preserve the quality of the data and improved international comparability.

Statisticians from the ENP-S countries specialised in the production of Trade in goods statistics gathered in Brussels on April 28-30, 2017, to discuss the implications of recent changes (2010) in the international standards introduced by the Statistical Department of the United Nations (UNSD). One expert from the UNSD participated in the meeting to present the major modifications made in methods and concepts, to clarify operational aspects linked to the application of these changes and to answer to the specific questions raised by the ENP-S countries.

Several recommendations were made by the participants at the end of the workshop to improve the quality of their work and to design and to implement national action plans in this field of statistics. Among the issues that should be given more attention in the future are, among others, the following:

  • Comparing the exports of a country to another one and the import of this second country from the first one is an excellent exercise to identify the discrepancies and shortfalls in the production of external trade statistics. In a perfect world these two estimates should be equal but this is never the case. However, the causes of the differences must be investigated and clearly identified through “mirror exercise” called asymmetry studies. The results of the studies help correcting and adjusting data and improve their production. The workshop concluded that these studies, already carried out in the ENP-S countries with the help of the project, should be multiplied and extended to trade in services,
  • A part of external trade escape to the statisticians because it is either the result of informal or illegal activities or the consequence of measurement conventions. This part may be significant in some of the Mediterranean countries. The workshop was the occasion to exchange practices and experiences in this area, some concrete solutions being shared among the participants,
  • The globalisation of the world economy brings new challenges for external trade statistics. In an environment where the economies are inter-connected, flows of goods, of services and of investments between them multiply and concern an extended scope of activities, some of them being new and innovative. The workshop helped the participants in better understanding the challenges ahead,
  • External trade data are intensively used but they are also very complex to produce. They involve various administrations in addition to the statistical offices such as the Customs, line-ministries and central bank. The monitoring of the quality of the data is thus a key factor to ensure the consistency of the collaboration among these various actors. The workshop discussed the issue and agreed that more efforts should be done at the national level to develop and to share quality monitoring
    frameworks for external trade statistics.

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