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D.  Linking services trade data with the business register

16.39.        Today, many compilers have started projects to link merchandise trade statistics to the business register at the microlevel in order to produce so-called Trade by Enterprise Characteristics (TEC) indicators (as published, for example, by Eurostat and OECD).[1] Those data indicate which firms, categorized by such variables as industry, size class, foreign ownership or geographical (subnational) region, are actually engaged in international trade. That information is considered very relevant for policy, as it shows the importance, for example, of SMEs or foreign-owned firms in total trade, and provides insight into which industries use what kind of imported products, which is vital for the analysis of global value chains.[2]

16.40.        Similar data-linking activities can be conducted in the area of trade in services and are called Services Trade by Enterprise Characteristics (STEC). Those data are compiled by combining the information from enterprise or establishment trade in services surveys (generic or specialized) with the business register that contains information on industry classification, size class and other relevant stratifying variables. A well-maintained SBR (see chap. 5) is essential for such a data-linking exercise. Microdata linking is greatly facilitated when the trade in services surveys are sampled directly from that register and use the same statistical unit. Similarly, it is recommended to identify the full population of firms engaged in trade in services, for example, via a multiannual census or via VAT registers, in order to facilitate the grossing up of the data.  

16.41.        It should be noted that given the diverse nature of trade in services data sources, the total value of trade in services cannot be fully attributed to individual enterprises. Compilers should not see this as a weakness, but rather as a consequence of the fact that some services categories, notably travel, are collected through methods that render linking with the business register conceptually impossible.

16.42.        It is good practice for compilers to carefully consider confidentiality issues when disseminating STEC data, as a more detailed breakdown of the services trade by industry and size class may make it easy to identify individual firms. In such instances, it is preferable to publish a set of tables that break down the services trade according to only one enterprise characteristic (e.g., either industry or size class), rather than a more detailed table that contains many cells with confidential information.

16.43.        Further, as described in chapter 5, SBRs could prove useful in the compilation of additional data to support the analysis of services industries and the enhancement of comparability and consistency across collections, such as the particular example of potential mode 4 self-employed service suppliers indicated above.


Next: E. Other indicators of interest for the global analysis of service industries