Producing comparable data on international trade in services is a complex challenge for the ENP-S countries

MEDSTAT IV organised a workshop to respond to the urgent need expressed by the ENP-S countries for better applying the new international standards for trade in services. A representative from the UN Statistical Department, responsible for the new recommendations, brought light on the changes made on definitions, standards and classification of services in the balance of payments.

BoP_MaltaTo quantify trade in services is by nature far more difficult than to quantify the exchanges of goods. One of the main reason is that the services are more difficult to define. Some of them are defined by abstracted notions and not by physical characteristics or functions. For trade in services, contrary to trade in goods, there is no package crossing a custom border, with a bar code, a description of the content, the destination; in general, there is no invoice and no direct system to apply custom duties. Once the exchange is made, the information gathered depends on agreements on common concepts that are taken by the two side of the transaction. Thus, several possible sources of information have to be mixed in order to track down the value of the exchange. This makes it complex.

The representatives of the ENP-S countries, from both statistical offices, Central banks and other organisations involved in the compilation of the Balance of payments, gathered in Malta on April 2-4, 2019. It was an opportunity for them to present and discuss the respective situations in the countries regarding the implementation of the new recommendations. They raised numerous questions on the details of the new concepts and norms and received targeted advices that should lead to an improvement in the comparability of their production of trade in services statistics.


For more information, please contact

UNSD-Trade web-page: