Global Forum on Trade Statistics

Discussions on globalization, goods for processing, the geographical fragmentation of the production process and trade in value-added have challenged this notion that current trade figures reflect the value-added of trade. For a better understanding of the value-added of trade a better understanding of the national export industry is a pre-requisite. Building a micro-level database in which detailed trade statistics are linked to enterprise statistics, and other economic and social statistics will help in understanding the country’s export industry and this understanding should corroborate the trade in value-added estimates.

Trade and Business Statistics

An integrated approach of trade in goods and services and business statistics

For a substantial change in the compilation of trade statistics from a product based toward a business oriented perspective a new statistical frame needs to be established based on the link between trade and business statistics at the enterprise / trade operator level. The business register would be the central connecting piece, see picture below.

In Brazil, the data sources used for international trade are Customs data, Enterprise statistics, Business Register statistics, and other sources (like surveys). The Ministry of Development collects all this trade information, whereas the national statistical office (IBGE) maintains the unique company identifiers to establish the link between these data sources. The Ministry of Labour provides in addition the annual list of social information which is used to define, for instance, the number of employees of each company, the wages etc. The SISCOMEX system (see scheme below) assists the trader in providing the necessary information to register its transactions by pre-filling with existing information based on the ID.

Since 2009 the Central Bank of Austria publishes completely new data on cross-border trade in services, namely trade in services by industry, by enterprise concentration, by region, by company size, and by inward and outward FDI. It was also possible to correlate trade in goods with trade in services on those various variables. It is important to note that changes were made without increase in cost for respondents. The picture below shows the sources used and some of the variables which are linked through these sources.

OECD promotes the work on Trade by Enterprise Characteristics (TEC) by disaggregating trade flows according to the characteristics of trading companies in a very efficient and cost effective way. She showed the OECD-Eurostat TEC database, which contains Trade by size class, by top enterprises, by partner zones and countries, by number of partner countries, and by commodities (Central Product Classification). The graph below shows that exports in almost all countries are mostly concentrated in larger enterprises (Export values by Enterprise Size Class, as a share of total exports). For the future OECD would like to explore ways to improve access to micro-data for analytical purposes while conforming to confidentiality laws.

Eurostat moves towards an integrated approach of trade in goods, services and business statistics. It links various sources which in the end is more cost effective. Globalization is important and Trade is the most important component of Globalization. More needs to be done on trade in services. Finally, business statistics need to be streamlined via integration of legal acts, classifications, business registers (like the European Business Register) and via integration of data collection and processing.

Statistics Netherlands established a new dissemination strategy for trade statistics to answer new questions. The world is changing rapidly. Production is split up over many countries; services are more and more tradable; the importance of emerging markets grows. Policy makers, therefore, have new questions about effects and determinants of trade and statisticians should live up to these demands. Statistics Netherlands has changed is production process to answer these new questions. It has integrated the economic, functional and social statistics, as shown in the picture below:

It was concluded that globalisation and international trade have lead to new and additional questions about effects and determinants of trade. Linking various data sources helps in finding answers, and visualisations help to understand data. Finally, cooperation among the institutions involved (like NSO and Central Bank) is essential for success of such an undertaking.

Statistics New Zealand together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade are in the process of developing a new questionnaire for International Trade in Services, which will include new questions like contract manufacturing fees for processing goods, sales of goods manufactured abroad, published software delivered electronically and question on mode of supply. The data will be disseminated through BOP, through stand alone publication on commercial services and through the Longitudinal Business Database, which is an integrated set of business data and aims at producing new information without burdening enterprises again. The structure of the LBD is shown below. Access is highly secure because of confidentiality issues.