Addressing international trade in services in the compilation of the balance of payment: some practical recipes

On July 17-18, 2018, MEDSTAT IV organised a workshop in Athens for experts from the ENP-S countries working in the area of trade in services and the compilation of the balance of payment. Evaluating trade in services in a fast changing environment poses real challenges for statisticians: complex regulations must be applied that require a deep understanding of what the flows of services are and a practical experience on their measurement.

To facilitate the workshop, MEDSTAT IV called on an experimented statistician who worked for many years in the Central Bank of a EU member states and at the International Monetary Fund. He brought in the debate very concrete examples, drawing from his past responsibilities, and gave very practical advices to the participants on various dimensions of this difficult area of statistics.

After a general introduction to recent international agreements and recommendations (WTO, GATS) on statistics of international trade in services, aiming at reminding the main definitions of the twelve services trade items that the balance of payments should present, the discussion addressed the following issues:

  • The transport and insurance services, the values of which are included in the CIF value (cost, insurance, freight) of imports, with emphasis on the nationality of carriers and insurance companies (residents, non- residents),
  • The importance of sharing FISIM (financial intermediation services indirectly measured) between the part consumed locally and part imported or exported,
  • The construction services and the accounting of large equipment imported by major companies of construction and civil engineering,
  • The impact of introducing the results of services surveys into the balance of payments.

Discussions also covered how to handle the difference between the new version of the BoP according to the 6th edition and the old version based on the 2010 recommendations on ITRS.

Very lively discussions followed each presentation and participants emphasized the importance of the topics presented by the expert.

In addition, the representative of Morocco made two presentations. The first concerned the IT platform created and managed by the « Office des Changes » which allows a direct link between the customs, importers-exporters, banks and the various departments of the Office. The second presentation concerned the various surveys carried out by the foreign exchange office: sampling, surveys, results and impact on the balance of payments.

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Photo of participants in the Athens Regional Workshop 17-18 July 2018Photos Groupe

Workshop on Measuring Decent Work and Other Labour Topics in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Geneva, 9-10 July 2018

Workshop on Measuring Decent Work and Other Labour Topics in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Geneva, 9-10 July 2018

Decent work, quality of employment and other sub-sectors of labour market statistics are priority areas for the ENP-South countries individually and within the Euro-Mediterranean statistical cooperation. Along with the recommendations of the Forum of the Euro-Mediterranean Statisticians held in July 2017, the Euro-Mediterranean Working Group on Labour Market Statistics (EMWGLS) agreed for deploying concrete activities that point towards the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals –SDG  relevant for the labour market, the employment and the employability of people, namely the SDG-8 (‘Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’) and SDG-4 (‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’).

Within this background, MEDSTAT IV organized a regional workshop, which was held at ILO, Geneva, on 9-10 July 2018, and was a follow up of a workshop held in Larnaca in December 2017. As previously, the event benefited from the contributions of experts from Eurostat, the ILO Department of Statistics, the European Training Foundation (ETF) and the Expertise France MEDSTAT IV Consortium.

The purpose of the workshop was to further discuss the conceptual frameworks and the methodology developed under the ILO Decent Work Measurement Framework (DWMF) and the SDG framework and to assist countries in computing good quality and harmonised Decent Work and SDG indicators. Moreover, the workshop aimed to identify sound methods for the estimation and the use of these indicators, among the countries participating in the Euro-Mediterranean statistical cooperation.

Slightly more than half of the indicators are available in the countries, though available not on regular basis and with several differences in terms of definitions and methodologies applied in compliance to the international standards, as well as with limited updating in national and international databases. In order to further support countries for appropriately measuring the progress towards the DWMF and SDGs, the recommendations were for the future work to address specific and critical methodological issues that regard the frequency of the indicators, the heterogeneity of data sources, the disparities of definitions and concepts, and to present and compare to the greatest extent possible the indicators that countries can report over the last decade. In addition to that, the future work within the EMWGLS foresees the extension of the sharing of practices and methodologies for computing the national indicators on skills under the international frameworks and particularly the SDGs.







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Improving the Production and Use of Migration Statistics: Experts’ Meeting in the ILO premises, in Geneva, on 11-12 July 2018

IMG_9067Improving the Production and Use of Migration Statistics in the ENP-South Countries: MEDSTAT IV organises an Experts’ Meeting in the ILO premises, in Geneva, on 11-12 July 2018


Migration is an increasing phenomenon with fast changing modalities, evolving monitoring needs and a complex designing of policy measures. All this makes its measurement and the harmonisation of national data complicated. Among other, new international guidelines relevant for the migration statistics are underway, such as for instance the ones on labour migration and refugees and internally displaced people.

In the last decade different MEDSTAT projects assisted the improvement of migration statistics under the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, significantly supporting the development of model tools, the conception, preparation and implementation of national surveys and the coordination of the international partner organisations under the Mediterranean Household International Migration Surveys (MED-HIMS Programme). MEDSTAT also supported the improvement of migration statistics on the basis of administrative registers and the integration of data sources. However, this was done in lower extend mainly due to constraints in the inter-institutional coordination within most of the involved countries.

In this context, MEDSTAT IV organized a new regional event on migration statistics, in the form of an experts’ meeting, for mainly discussing the use of residence permit data. The discussion built around the outcomes of a pilot tabulation recently launched under the project and also around the requirements and practices emerging within the region and at global level on activities such as the monitoring of the SDGs and the dissemination of data. The event benefited from the contributions of Eurostat, the ILO Department of Statistics, the UNECE Statistical Division and the Expertise France MEDSTAT IV Consortium, the latter including ISTAT-Italy.

The meeting saw a decisive progress in the participation of the relevant ministerial services of the ENP-South countries in the events of the MEDSTAT IV Migration sector component. The pilot tabulation based on residence permit data resulted so far in a better state than similar operations carried out in the past, but it still requires more efforts. In particular, the documentation of administrative procedures at the origin of that data registration should be integrated, leading to the improvement of comparability of national data.

The meeting endorsed the steps towards the launching of the Morocco-HIMS that will take place in the following weeks  and the attempts for increasing the monitoring of migration under the SDG framework by mainstreaming migration in relevant statistical operations as well as trying innovative practices based on the Big Data.






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Workshop on « Producing more accurate data on international trade in services », Athens 17-18 July 2018

Producing more accurate data on international trade in services

MEDSTAT IV organises a workshop with the ENP-S countries to discuss specific surveys that may help better assessing the important of the international flows of services

ATHENS, 17-18 JULY 2018

The service sector is increasingly important: it represents today 50% of GDP for more than 85% of WTO member countries. Over the last 20 years, trade in services became the most dynamic segment of world trade; it is growing faster than the trade in goods. Developing countries and economies in transition have played a growing role in this sector, increasing their share of global services exports from one-quarter to one-third during the period 1998 to 2018. This growing importance of international trade in services is marked by the emergence of new sectors (IT,  information services and insurance services). This evolution has put a lot of pressure on the organisations responsible for the production of statistics in this area, including in the ENP-S countries.

At the demand of the ENP-S countries, the MEDSTAT IV project already organised  asymmetry exercises on trade in services at the occasion of two sub-regional workshops that took place in January 2018 in Tunis (workshop in French) and Athens (workshop in English). These exercises, that compare individual flows of imports and exports between countries, are instrumental for assessing the quality of the statistics produced on Trade in services and for identifying where improvement may be brought.

The main finding made during these two events was that these statistics on Trade in services are not very developed in the ENP-S countries and this despite new international recommendations. The international experts facilitating the two events concluded that the development of these statistics necessarily involves conducting surveys at the level of the national providers of services.

The purpose of this workshop will be to follow-up on the recommendations made after the asymmetry exercises and to discuss the development of surveys allowing to break down the balance of payments account into 12 posts such as suggested by the Manual on International Trade in Services Statistics (MSCIS 2010).

This new 2010 revision of international standards for Trade in services is intended to ensure the consistency of concepts and definitions with international recommendations for other related statistical areas such as:

  • The system of National Accounts 2008;
  • The sixth edition of the Balance of Payments Manual and International Investment Position;
  • The Manual of International Trade Statistics of Goods Concepts and Definitions;

This workshop will be attended by two representatives from each of  the nine ENP-S countries and facilitated by two specialists: one on foreign trade statistics and one on the compilation of the balance of payments.


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