Import values in trade in services can be legitimately negative in the following cases: Insurance, Financial Services (due to financial intermediation services indirectly measured (FISIM), see below), and Merchanting (or Net exports of goods under merchanting in EBOPS2010).

For Financial services -- according to the Balance of Payments Manual, 6t Edition (BPM6), FISIM can sometimes be negative, which may make total Financial Services negative. Negative FISIM can occur when loans are at fixed interest rates and market rates rise or a small error in measuring the reference rate on large transactions. (see BPM610.134)

In EBOPS 2010, “Net exports of goods under merchanting” includes merchants’ margins, holding gains
and losses, and changes in inventories of goods under merchanting. As a result of losses or increases in
inventories, net exports of goods under merchanting may be negative in some cases. (BPM6, 10.34c). On
a related note, for services recorded in the EBOPS 2002 classification, if commodities imported under
Merchanting are not resold by the merchant in the same accounting period, an import of goods is recorded
in the first period, and a negative import entry is recorded in the later period. (BPM5, 262).

Negative values could result from timing issues and /or estimation, especially in the
case of freight and manufacturing services.

See also: