D.2. Foreign direct investment surveys in the context of foreign affiliates statistics
6.102. In the case of existing FDI surveys, registers used for FDI would typically be used to identify foreign-controlled affiliates that qualify for FATS treatment. Alternatively, key FATS variables could be incorporated into existing inward or outward FDI surveys. Many countries have inward and outward FDI surveys, and the use of those vehicles to collect some basic FATS is a quick and cost-effective solution, in particular for outward FATS. However, compilers need to keep in mind that there are a number of drawbacks, some of which are listed below.
6.103. The priority would be to cover the main FATS variables, namely sales and turnover (if possible with an estimated breakdown into total goods and total services, excluding income elements) and employment (if possible distinguishing employees recruited from overseas and intracorporate transferees). If such data are available from other sources, the survey should enable the identification of (a) subsidiaries and branches (possibly including further qualitative information on the subsidiary), (b) the principal activity of the affiliate and (c) the country of establishment of the affiliate for outward FATS and of the UCI for inward FATS. All affiliates should be covered, whether directly or indirectly controlled. However, given that FDI surveys often gather information only on immediate relationships, in the first stages of implementation, only data on direct control could be collected, but a medium- to long-term objective would be to also gather information on indirectly controlled affiliates.
6.104. Compilers should note that incorporating FATS-related questions in FDI surveys may increase the response burden imposed on enterprises that are not part of the FATS population. In addition, FDI surveys may need to be conducted more frequently (e.g., quarterly), whereas FATS may be needed less frequently (e.g., annually, at least in the initial stages of development of the FATS framework at the national level). If a country conducts an annual survey of direct investment as well as monthly or quarterly surveys, it may be appropriate to incorporate FATS variables only into the annual one. The possible extension of FATS variables and breakdowns to be covered in FDI surveys should also be carefully assessed, given the main reasoning behind FDI surveys and the broader population that they cover. For that reason, compilers should not go beyond the list of items identified above. If there is a need for additional items, compilers should develop a survey complementary to the regular (annual) FDI survey that could also be used to collect more detailed FDI data.
6.105. Extended business registers might also be a suitable means of maintaining such information. That approach has already been adopted in some countries that use them to maintain data on foreign ownership.
6.106. While FDI statistics differ in several ways from FATS variables, FDI statistics may provide useful indicators relating to commercial presence for those countries that have not yet begun to compile FATS. In particular, FDI positions can serve as an indicator of a country’s interest in using commercial presence to supply services internationally. In addition, FDI statistics can be used in conjunction with FATS to indicate the extent to which the operations of affiliates were financed with funds from direct investors, as well as the extent to which the income generated by affiliates accrued to direct investors.