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C.1. Generic trade in services surveys  

6.17.        A generic trade in services survey covers most or all services that can potentially be delivered or consumed by enterprises. It does not usually cover the data on services transactions that correspond to imports of services by households or individuals, e.g. travel-related transactions, or certain specialized services for which the number of transactors may be more limited, such as in exports of transport services and construction, and for which a more targeted survey may be more efficient. A generic trade in services survey covers enterprises with potentially relevant balance of payments transactions with non-resident households, corporations and Governments. Enterprise trade in services surveys have traditionally been used to capture data used for the compilation of the balance of payments and international investment positions (IIP),[1] but they should, to the extent possible, also serve more detailed needs, as identified in MSITS 2010. In particular, they can be used to collect data by service type and counterpart country, as well as by relationship between the parties (affiliated and unaffiliated trade). They can also be useful for identifying the mode of supply in resident/non-resident transactions in order to develop modes of supply estimates. 

6.18.        The organization and conduct of generic trade in services surveys is a complex task that countries approach in various ways, depending on their needs and circumstances. Some countries have had to develop survey systems because of the lack of necessary information from bank records on payment transactions (settlement system). The experiences of France and Austria, which are provided below, provide valuable lessons for compilers who might decide to develop new surveys for collecting trade in services data, or to improve existing ones. It is preferred practice for compilers to take into account the set of steps for developing and conducting an enterprise survey that is described in box 2.1 of the BPM6 Compilation Guide, as well the suggestions for creating and updating the survey frame.[2] A model survey questionnaire (form 6) is available in appendix 8 of the BPM6 Compilation Guide. To respond to the trade in services information needs, such a model questionnaire will have to be amended with some additional breakdowns and questions. Box 6.2 illustrates how such additional information could be collected.  The different dimensions, content and design of the survey forms, as well as the questions,  will have to be chosen according to the identified needs.


6.19.        Compilers seeking to incorporate mode-of-supply data in generic trade in services surveys are advised to first consider the costs, burden and priorities for such a breakdown, as compared with other needs (e.g., partner country) and if that breakdown is needed for all services items or only for a selection of them. Decisions could be made using a step-by-step approach; in light of policy needs, priority may be given to breaking down exports of services by mode of supply (for all items, or in first the instance, for a selection of aggregates).  Imports of services by mode might be done in the second stage of the survey development. Alternatively, simplification rules could be used, such as those described in chapter 5 of MSITS 2010:  a service transaction could be associated to one or two dominant modes. Only the identification of one mode or two may therefore be requested, assuming that the residual mode can be derived from the information provided.[3] Another option would be simply to ask respondents to identify one dominant mode in a service transaction, for example,  by checking a box).

6.20.        It is good practice to provide clear and simple instructions and explanatory notes to respondents on the information to be submitted, in particular, on how to determine the modes of supply, if relevant questions are included in the forms. In electronic surveys, prompts and restrictions can be used to help improve the accuracy of the reported data, for example, by asking respondents to confirm their answer if they enter a mode of supply that is unlikely to be associated with a particular service type. It should be considered that respondents are generally more comfortable estimating proportions of a value already provided, rather than giving exact monetary values by mode of supply. 

6.21.        While processing survey results, imputations should be part of the work. Compilers can use table V.2 of MSITS 2010 as the basis (for lower value answers), or by contacting respondents directly for clarifications (for higher value answers). Experience shows that respondents are very likely to be able to provide mode of supply information when contacted directly. 

6.22.        It is also important to note that trade in services enterprise surveys can be the source for mode 4 (contractual services supply) and quantitative indicators (i.e., number of persons or trips). Firms normally keep staff records that may include information on the type of work performed and/or whether the staff member received special compensation for working abroad; however, such records will not necessarily be kept by the same department as the department  that reports data on transactions,  i.e., personnel versus accounting departments. Such information could serve the needs for mode 4. Within enterprise surveys, and if deemed relevant, one could also consider including explicitly mode 4-related questions along the lines proposed in the trade in services surveys, or other questions designed to identify mode 4 activities.

 Country experience: Austria

 Country experience: New Zealand: collecting data on modes of supply (ch. 6)


Next: C.2. Transportation surveys


[1] See BPM6 Compilation Guide, para. 2.2.

[2] Ibid., p. 11.

[3] For example, a systematic identification of the proportion of mode 4, assuming that the residual will be either be mode 1 or 2, depending on the type of service considered.