Page tree
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

You are viewing an old version of this page. View the current version.

Compare with Current View Page History

« Previous Version 6 Next »

5.1.             A statistical business register (SBR) is commonly understood as a register of economic units resident in the national economic territory. An SBR is established and maintained for statistical purposes; for example, it provides a central sampling frame for business surveys and plays a central role in the integrated collection and compilation of economic statistics, from which detailed and interlinked indicators can be derived. Chapter 5 focuses on how business registers and survey frames can be used in the context of data collection of resident/non-resident trade in services, FATS and modes of supply. It consists of four main parts: a summary of good practices (section A); the roles and characteristics of SBRs and survey frames (section B); a satellite register for trade in services and the use of business registers to identify potential mode 4 self-employed service suppliers (section C); and country examples (section D).

On this pages:

A.  Summary of good practices

5.2.            Compilers of data in accordance with the statistical framework for measurement of the international supply of services are advised to use an SBR as the central sample frame for their survey programme in order to obtain better coverage, harmonize  surveys, integrate trade in services statistics with other economic statistics, reduce costs and the response burden, prevent the double counting of statistical information and, above all, achieve better quality and more coherence in official trade in services statistics. A high-quality SBR helps to improve the efficiency and coherence of the national statistical system. 

5.3.            International guidelines for SBRs have recently been developed and are being continuously updated.[1] Compilers are advised to refer to those guidelines for more detailed information on setting up and maintaining a statistical business register. The Compiler’s Guide focuses mainly on the role of the SBR as a central sample frame for surveys related to international trade in services.

5.4.            The maintenance and development of an SBR should be well coordinated. It is good practice to have a clear agreement on the responsibilities of the agencies involved in the maintenance and development of the SBR in the national statistical system. It should be noted that in some countries, that process is handled by one dedicated unit in the national statistical system, instead of several units within the various substantive areas. The Guide advises that an appropriate legal framework be put in place for enabling statistical authorities to access and use administrative records, especially tax and social security records, to maintain the SBR. 

5.5.            It is good practice for the SBR maintenance process to be based to a large degree on the use of administrative sources, such as the administrative company register, the register of sole proprietors, the register of government units and the VAT register, as well as tax records and records of the social security administration. To ensure that the SBR provides a solid basis for the collection of the data needed for measuring the international supply of services, it is further advised to update the SBR on the basis of such sources as settlements and international payments databases, trade registers, the foreign direct investment (FDI) register, balance sheet information and other specific registers available from trade associations or regulatory bodies.

5.6.            It is very important that the SBR use the definitions from the 2008 SNA  for its statistical units. To ensure a more efficient collection of data on the international supply of services by various modes, the Guide advises the inclusion in the SBR of additional indicators providing information on international transactions of the registered entities, as well as on turnover, economic activity, number of employees, balance sheet variables and data on foreign ownership, in order to properly carry out the selection and stratification of the statistical units, sampling and estimation. It is also good practice to use the SBR to identify the mode 4 self-employed population, as merchants and small manufacturers, including self-employed and sole-proprietor companies,  should be registered in it. 

5.7.            While it is good practice for the national statistical system to aim to maintain one multipurpose SBR, in practice, it may be useful to have a tailor-made satellite register consisting of all enterprises that are engaged in the international supply of services. If established, it is good practice for such a satellite register to be maintained by a dedicated unit within the agency responsible for the compilation of trade in services statistics. Such a unit should, in particular, systematically update the satellite register, using the information available in the central SBR, and actively participate in the harmonization of the content of the two registers. 

B.  Statistical business registers

B.1.  Roles of statistical business registers  

5.8.            The Statistical Commission recommends the 2008 SNA to obtain a comprehensive and coherent set of statistics of the national economy. Implementation of the 2008 SNA begins with setting up a basic data collection system for all economic activities. That effort goes hand in hand with setting up a system for integrated economic statistics, based to a large degree on the use of a statistical business register (SBR) as the central frame for all business surveys. Therefore, a number of regional and international agencies have been actively engaged in establishing and improving SBRs, especially in Africa,[2] Asia and Europe. Those improvements will benefit the collection of data by means of business surveys, as well as the collection of some administrative data, for the compilation of trade in services statistics.

5.9.            An SBR is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. As such, it is a vital component of an integrated programme of economic surveys. The ultimate goal is the production of comprehensive, coherent and high-quality economic statistics. Figure 5.1 illustrates the various roles of an SBR. One of its important roles is to maintain and keep track of the changes in statistical units and their characteristics owing to real-life events (see section B.3). This is a continuous process of modification. The frequency of modification depends upon the update strategy of the SBR. In this respect, the SBR can be considered as a kind of “live register”, in which the composition of units changes constantly over time.[3] 

 

                         Figure 5.1 Roles of the statistical business register

B.2.  The statistical business register as the central sample frame

5.10.        The primary benefits of maintaining one sample frame are better coverage, the harmonization of surveys, the integration of survey data, the reduction of costs and response burden, the prevention of double counting of statistical information and, above all, better quality and more coherence in official statistics. Of course, such benefits can only be realized when one central register is used to derive a sample frame.

5.11.        There are three reasons for the desirability of the construction and use of an SBR as the central sample frame. First, if survey frames are independently created and maintained, there is no means of guaranteeing their harmonization. As a result, there may be an unintentional duplication and/or omission of activities. Second, an SBR enables the practical application of standard statistical units and their classifications, which is a crucial requirement for the integration of survey outputs. Third, it is more efficient for a single organizational unit to maintain an SBR as a source of frames for all business surveys, than for each survey team to independently maintain its own frame.

5.12.        An up-to-date survey frame is required for each repetition of a regularly conducted survey. It is more efficient to maintain a frame so that it can support the sequence of repetitions of a survey than it is to create the frame afresh with each repetition. This is particularly true in the case of subannual surveys, where the overlap of sampled units from period to period is essential. Survey frame maintenance is best achieved through the development of a single SBR which is used as the source of frames for all business surveys.

5.13.        The SBR also serves as the basis for grossing up the results from the surveys to produce estimates for the entire business population, and it is the main source for data on business populations and their demographics. An SBR should preferably cover as much national economic activity as possible. However, the high cost-to-benefit ratio involved in covering the smallest units means that some sort of cut-off is usually applied in practice. In addition to its role as a sampling frame, a high-quality[4] SBR can also improve the efficiency of the national statistical system by coordinating and spreading the samples of the various statistical surveys, helping to reduce the response burden and improving the coverage and congruence of the survey results. Finally, a comprehensive and up-to-date SBR plays a central role in achieving the integration of economic statistics, and is essential for the full coordination of source data that use the same basic information about business units.[5]

B.3.  Characteristics of a statistical business register  

5.14.        An SBR typically lists the economic entities that are of interest for economic statistics. Economic entities have numerous characteristics, but some of the most important ones are their classification by (a) institutional sector (as defined in the 2008 SNA), (b) economic activity (as defined in the International Standard Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC), rev. 4) and (c) location. Most countries provide laws that enable economic entities to define and register themselves as legal entities: entities that are recognized by law or society, independently of the persons or institutions that own them. A legal entity can own goods or assets, incur liabilities and enter into contracts. The legal entity (or unit) always forms, either by itself or in combination with other legal units, the basis for the statistical unit.[6]  A statistical unit is an entity about which information is sought and for which statistics are ultimately compiled. It is the unit that provides the basis for statistical aggregates and to which tabulated data refer.[7] Those may be identifiable legal or physical entities or statistical constructs.

5.15.        The 2008 SNA provides the standard definitions of the statistical units that are recommended by the Statistical Commission for use in setting up data collection in all economic areas.[8] As mentioned above, the MSITS conceptual framework is grounded in the 2008 SNA. The 2008 SNA definitions of statistical units should therefore be used for trade in services statistics purposes, as well. Box 5.1 lists and briefly defines the main types of statistical units. The statistical units used in an SBR should be described by at least three sets of variables and characteristics, namely:

(a) Identifier variables:   identity number, name, address (including postcode), telephone and fax numbers, electronic mail address and information to permit the electronic collection of data, value added tax (VAT) registration number or other administrative identity numbers;

(b) Economic/stratification characteristics:   characteristics related to activity classification (principle and secondary), size (e.g., number of persons employed, turnover, value added) and location variables (e.g., country of global decision centre (ultimate controlling institutional unit (UCI)), countries in which enterprises or local units are located and information on whether or not the unit is engaged in international trade).

(c) Demographic characteristics:  recording calendar dates for important events like commencement of activities, termination of activities and joining or ceasing to be part of an enterprise (group) permit an initial demographic analysis of the population of enterprises, local units and enterprise groups. 

 

Box 5.1 Different types of statistical units

The institutional unit is an economic entity that is capable, in its own right, of owning assets, incurring liabilities and engaging in economic activities and transactions with other entities. Two main types of units may qualify as institutional units: persons or groups of persons in the form of households, and legal or social entities.

An enterprise is an institutional unit in its capacity as a producer of goods and services. An enterprise is an economic transactor with autonomy in respect of financial and investment decision-making, as well as authority and responsibility for allocating resources for the production of goods and services. Enterprises under the control of the same owner form an enterprise group to achieve economic advantages, such as economies of scale, control of a wider market and an increase in domestic productivity through more effective business management.

An establishment is an enterprise or part of an enterprise that is situated in a single location and in which only a single productive activity is carried out or in which the principal productive activity accounts for most of the value added. Note that the 2008 SNA also defines industries in terms of establishments.

There are two other statistical units that are often referred to in data sources relevant for statistics on the international supply of services: A kind-of-activity unit is an enterprise or part of an enterprise that engages in only one kind of productive activity or in which the principal productive activity accounts for most of the value added; and a local unit, which is defined as an enterprise or a part of an enterprise (for example, a workshop, factory, warehouse, office, mine or depot) that engages in productive activity at or from one location.

Sources: 2008 SNA and International Recommendations for Industrial Statistics (IRIS) 2008.

 B.4.  Creation and maintenance of a statistical business register  

5.16.        The circumstances and factors within which an SBR is built can clearly be vastly different across countries. The legal frameworks for acquiring data, as well as the access to human, financial and technical resources, will ultimately determine how countries can proceed. There are, however, some key recurring themes, including the following:

(a) The requirements for building effective partnerships with data suppliers, funding providers and users of the SBR are, first, making sure that the critical role of the SBR in delivering a coherent and reliable national economic statistics programme is well recognized, and, second, putting in place robust governance structures and partner engagement mechanisms;

(b) It is necessary to manage the implementation, operation and focus of the SBR in a manner that enables it to achieve its mission-critical purpose of identifying the population of businesses of a country so that they can be surveyed to acquire useful economic data. There are other secondary, yet highly desirable, roles that an SBR can fulfil, such as acting as a data collection management and tracking tool. The original design and implementation plan should allow for adding in such components, but only once the SBR has fully matured in its role as a high-quality statistical frame;

(c) Generally, the approach should be to maintain simplicity to the extent possible. Conceptual and technical complexities should be added only when they serve a practical purpose, and should never prevent the SBR from meeting its larger goals. 

5.17.        Although the primary purpose of an SBR is to provide a central frame for economic surveys across statistical programmes, the longer-term vision should allow for the addition of  features and components that will further enhance the value of an SBR, including the following examples:

(a) An SBR can serve as a source of register-based statistics. This requires the seamless integration of administrative data, as well as adequate quality assurance, raw data treatment and programming resources;

(b) A module to track respondents and response burden can be added. Such a module requires human information technology resources to develop and maintain servers and databases. The module may or may not be efficient or necessary when using  an SBR in the early stages, since population coverage would be limited and resources would be directed towards the economic entities with the largest impact;

(c) A receptacle for tracking survey collection outcomes and response rates and a survey feedback mechanism can be established to facilitate analysis of the survey’s efficiency and results, as well as to update the SBR on a more regular basis.  

5.18.        Information technology professionals who design the data structures and larger system will benefit, in particular, from the clear definition of the longer-term vision, facilitating the addition of such modules as the SBR evolves. To reiterate, the SBR must first and foremost be a solidly reliable listing of businesses from which statistical surveys can accurately measure the economic trends of a country. Creating it will be a challenging task, as will keeping it up to date once it is in use. The challenges entailed in the creation and ongoing maintenance of the SBR will be greatly facilitated by adhering to the following principles:

(a) Do not overextend resources in the early stages by trying to cover all types of businesses.   While a highly developed SBR may cover a vast swathe of the economic population, a new SBR must focus on covering the population that is both most important and can be most reliably captured and reflected. The need to maximize limited human and technological resources, and to use available funding efficiently, should limit the scope of the initial SBR population. Reflecting the informal economy, which is highly diversified and for which no administrative data exist, cannot be a focus of an SBR development project. Typically, for the macroeconomic indicators that are the driving objective for the statistical programmes to be served, acceptable margins of statistical error can be obtained by excluding the numerous businesses that are at the smallest end of the size spectrum. Including such “micro” businesses would add large volumes of records to be maintained, while adding only very small increments to the statistical aggregates (such as the main components of the gross domestic product (GDP) or BOP) being produced. This is not to say that having such businesses would not be useful, as they can inform important policy analysis pertaining to business formation strategies, small-business financing and other microeconomic issues. Again, the addition of the smallest businesses is a desirable feature that is worth adding, but only once the core objective of adequately supporting the key indicators produced by the national accounts and balance of payments has been met;

 (b) Plan for a system that provides both live and snapshot versions of the register.   It will likely be necessary to have two versions of the SBR: (1) a live version that allows the instant recording of record updates entailed by ongoing frame maintenance activities and (2) a snapshot version, produced from the live version on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, that can be used to create particular survey frames. The snapshot version also provides a basis for period-to-period comparisons of frame quality.

B.5.  Governance of a statistical business register

5.19.        Governance and organizational structure is very important, not only for developing the SBR programme itself, but even more so for the ongoing maintenance of the SBR and support for its users. An SBR should be, where possible, an independent entity with a dedicated manager. It is  good practice for the manager’s unit to assume the following responsibilities:

(a) Defining and documenting all concepts, in line with the standards of international, national and local statistical offices;

(b) Planning and directing the development of SBR system processes and functionalities;

(c) Planning and implementing a quality assurance program for the SBR with the goal of:

(i) Assessing quality and ensuring the frame’s continued integrity;

(ii) Defining and producing quality measurements for the SBR;

(iii) Identifying system improvements, or recommending adjustments to the training programme or procedures, if required;

(d) Profiling businesses to delineate those that are larger and more complex, to properly represent their production output;

(e) Ensuring that businesses are classified within the proper standard industry classification;

(f) Assigning or deriving statistical indicators, or creating statistical units, from administrative registers to create a complete and unduplicated SBR aligned with the needs of the system of national accounts and basic economic statistics;

(g) Validating new development strategies, specifications and procedures;

(h) Developing and delivering  courses and materials to educate SBR users, including profilers, survey frame specialists, analysts, data coders and the staff of survey divisions and collection units/areas (training could follow a certification process so that those wishing to access the register must first complete the appropriate level of instruction);

(i) Supporting SBR data users by, for example,  providing assistance in evaluating the design needs of their surveys;

(j) Providing direction and support on legal issues related to the survey frame, such as access to the SBR and dissemination of SBR-based data;

(k) Maintaining a dedicated group tasked with producing files for users and processing all files related to updating the frame.

5.20.        The creation and maintenance of a unified comprehensive SBR is a long-term objective and a challenging task,[9] and it is recognized that resources devoted to that purpose vary among countries. In spite of this, there are a number of common issues that many national statistical offices may encounter in assessing the suitability of an SBR for trade in services statistics purposes.[10] For instance, a legal framework should be in place to allow access to and use of such administrative records for the purposes of the SBR. In the maintenance process, as many administrative sources as possible should be used to update the SBR, including, for example, the administrative company register, the register of sole proprietors, the register of government units and the register of non-profit units, as well as tax information such as  corporate tax, VAT and social security information. 

5.21.        Ideally, there should be a unit in the national statistical office that is responsible for developing and maintaining the SBR. Decentralized systems could benefit from the development of a system for reconciling the more significant inconsistencies in the data produced by multiple business registers, to improve the accuracy of the data through more consistent classification of key enterprises and the elimination of overlaps and gaps in coverage.

B.6.  Maintenance of an statistical business register  

5.22.        An SBR must be continuously updated to reflect changes in the population of economic entities as accurately as possible. In particular, the number and characteristics of economic units engaged in trade in services normally shift very rapidly, potentially resulting in the rapid aging of SBR data, which soon becomes useless. The SBR should be updated at least annually to record unit creations and deletions, as well as changes in address and stratification variables.

5.23.        New enterprises should be recorded in the SBR as soon as information about them is available, preferably before they start trading, so that information about investment in new buildings and plants can be collected. In addition, changes in the data necessary for the conduct of surveys, such as the addresses of reporting units, should obviously be reflected in the SBR as rapidly as possible.[11]

C.  Satellite register for trade in services and the use of statistical business registers to identify potential mode 4 self-employed service suppliers  

C.1.  Satellite register for trade in services  

5.24.        A satellite register of an SBR is a register that covers a subpopulation of the SBR with specific characteristics. For instance, a satellite register for trade in services (TIS-R) contains all economic units engaged in the international supply of services. That subpopulation is identified by linking the SBR with data from other sources, helping the statistician to determine the target subpopulation in the published indicators. Subsequently, survey samples can be drawn from the TIS-R.

5.25.        It is good practice for the TIS-R to be maintained by a dedicated unit within the agency responsible for the compilation of trade in services statistics in the country. However, it is strongly advised that the core information on the economic units in the TIS-R be automatically updated from the central SBR and that its content be harmonized with it. The harmonization of the TIS-R and the SBR entails forwarding to the SBR managers the information on the statistical units identified as engaged in the international supply of services but not yet included in SBR. For example, a TIS-R can include and provide to an SBR information on units, which are identified by the central bank as being active in resident/non-resident services transactions, but not yet registered in the SBR.  The international supply of services is, in principle, a possible activity for all units in an economy. Therefore, drawing efficient samples requires the inclusion in the sample frame of all those units that supply services internationally and the exclusion of those that are not engaged in such activity. In that context, in practice, it is useful to have a tailor-made TIS-R for trade in services.

C.2. Objectives of a satellite register for trade in services  

5.26.        The objectives of a TIS-R can be described as follows:

(a) The TIS-R must enumerate all the resident economic units that have had, in the recent past, international transactions in services. Ideally, the services subregister should enable an immediate differentiation of its population by major kinds of services, and distinguish the population of services exporters from that of importers, insofar as those populations may have significantly different features;

(b) The TIS-R needs additional indicators that provide information on international transactions, which are generally not included in an SBR. An SBR is a necessary, but not sufficient, source to determine the TIS-R population;

(c) The selection of the population of economic units of interest to statistics on the international supply of services will be an extract of the TIS-R. It generally includes all big players, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, selected for participation in a sample survey. In other words, we are distinguishing three sets of economic units: the overall population of the SBR, the subset population of the TIS-R and the surveyed sample of the TIS-R.

5.27.        Variables  Turnover, economic activity, number of employees, balance sheet variables, foreign trade data, data on foreign ownership and other economic data are necessary auxiliary variables for carrying out the selection, stratification, sampling and estimation of economic units. It is also good practice to use business registers to identify the self-employed population that could potentially be supplying their services through mode 4, because merchants and small manufacturers, including the self-employed and single-proprietor companies, are usually registered in them. An indication of cross-border trade activities might be also available and should be reflected in the TIS-R.

5.28.        Sources  The sources used to build and update a TIS-R should be used in two ways: (1) to identify the population as well as the variables used to identify it and (2) to select the enterprises to be surveyed. Potential sources to be carefully tested include the following:

(a) The general SBR lists the businesses active in the country, whatever their activity, domestic and/or international. It may contain relevant information for building and updating the TIS-R: identification variables, stratification variables relating to the activity and size of the enterprises, demographic variables and relationships variables (links between units);

(b) Settlements and international payments databases exist in many countries and contain the detail that can be derived from an ITRS on the resident units carrying out international payments through accounts held in resident banks, with an item breakdown (including trade in services);

(c) Trade registers  include a list of resident operators involved in international trade in goods. Generally a link can be established between trade in goods and trade in services (e.g., through information on international freight);

(d) VAT registers  are an important source for updating other registers existing in the country. The basic information in the VAT register includes, in general, such variables as turnover, employment, main activity and total goods and services exports and imports, which may be useful for a TIS-R;

(e) Other sources  include the register of partial direct reporting companies, the FDI register, balance sheet information and specific registers available from trade associations or regulatory bodies, including insurance companies, postal and telecommunications operators, trusts, securities dealers, the press and other media.

C.3.  Using business registers to identify potential mode 4 self-employed service suppliers  

5.29.        In some countries, foreign individuals must register with a supervision office. All new entries and changes are recorded and could eventually be published nationally. This means that potential mode 4 persons could be observed, if that information feeds the business register, and subsequently be linked to the trade in services variable. Therefore, the demographics of businesses, including in relation to mode 4, can be derived.

5.30.        In countries in which compilers have direct access to the business register, or can link their own BOP register with the business register, the self-employed category could be accessible. For example, in the European Union, very small enterprises are usually included in the business registers. Therefore, it is recommended that this legal type (that is, physical persons acting on the basis of small business authorization) and size class (microenterprises) be used as a first indication of potential mode 4 self-employed persons.

5.31.        Chapter 7 of the Eurostat Business Register Recommendations Manual stipulates which legal units must be recorded in business registers in European Union member states, while chapter 8 provides relevant information for mode of supply: external sourcing of ancillary services, in section 8.D,  and activities of workers under exclusive contracts, in section 8.E, which states that “[t]here are many activities that involve the services of workers under exclusive contracts: commercial representatives, travelling salesmen, insurance agents. Such workers may or may not be treated as employees of the enterprise, depending on the nature of the contract binding them to the enterprise”. Therefore, for countries interested in the self-employed under mode 4, it is advised to take into account the experience of the European Union and to incorporate similar information in their registers to enable compilation of the supply of services by mode 4 persons.

D.  Country experiences   

5.32.        Section D contains descriptions of three country experiences, each of which represents a specific practice adopted by a given country. The experience of Italy shows that  persistent difficulty with access to the general statistical register, in addition to other statistical problems with obtaining a survey frame relevant for cross-border phenomena, may lead to a decision to create a specific SBR to support the compilation system for external sector accounts. The case of Spain demonstrates the complexity of issues that must be overcome to build a tailor-made TIS-R when the general SBR, traditionally used as the statistical frame for almost all business surveys, does not contain the variables needed for the direct identification of exporters and importers of services. The experience of Uruguay proves that sustained efforts can result in developing a register that can provide a basis for the compilation of statistics on the international supply of services under the circumstances that developing countries usually face.

Country experience: Italy  

5.33.        In the period 2007-2011, the Bank of Italy modernized its BOP system. The SBR developed by the Bank plays a central role in the new system. It is used particularly to facilitate direct reporting via surveys covering different parts of the BOP and the index of industrial production. Although the use of a single national business register across all domains of economic statistics (not just BOP) would be ideal, the Bank had to create its own SBR because, despite close cooperation in statistics between the national statistical institute and the Bank, legislative constraints prevent the Bank from accessing the institute’s business register.[12]

5.34.        The SBR of the Bank of Italy contains information for the entire corporate sector (about 1.5 million units), with the exception of small, sole-proprietor firms. The coverage of the SBR, in terms of turnover, is nearly 90 per cent, and even higher for cross-border operations.[13] Given the tight deadline for the production of BOP data, timeliness is a particularly critical factor for the Bank’s SBR. The register is therefore updated daily with online data transmissions. This allows for the timely accounting of changes in the population of firms, which in some cases may significantly affect the external sector statistics, especially FDI. An SBR that is always up to date also contributes to the smooth running of back-office activities, such as  the help desk, formal communications to enterprises and sanction procedures.

5.35.        Enterprises have engaged in cross-border transactions are flagged in the SBR on the basis of information from quarterly bank reports on firms that have carried out cross-border settlements. Such an integration of sources significantly improves the efficiency of the sample selection. The Bank of Italy’s SBR is built by aggregating various source data (mostly received from external data providers) and converting them into normalized tables. The latter are integrated to form a relational database through a “bridge table” that contains all the identification keys used by the various data providers. The relational database consists of three tables: a structural data table, which contains information, such as a firm’s name and address; a quantitative data table, with balance sheet data and a flag for the presence of cross-border payments; and an FDI table, concerning enterprise ownership features.

5.36.        The final population list used for direct reporting purposes is extracted from the SBR according to well-defined criteria. The complete population list is usually too large to be used efficiently in a survey strategy. Therefore, a threshold is applied, according to which only firms with total assets or turnover greater than €1 million are included in the subpopulation. In the direct reporting system of Italy, the SBR not only allows for the identification of the target population, it also contributes auxiliary information and uses a cut-off strategy to reduce the population in order to stratify it in homogeneous clusters and to derive model-based estimators directly in the estimation process.

Country experience: Spain  

5.37.        Since 2005, the National Institute of Statistics has been entrusted to conduct an international trade in services survey , with the aim of helping the Bank of Spain to estimate the “other services” item of the BOP. The survey is sent to enterprises, sampled from the business registers of various institutions, because the Institute’s Central Business Register (DIRCE) does not contain a variable for identifying exporters and importers of services. Populations that are considered are obtained from different registers, including regular declarants of foreign services transactions enterprises from the monthly VAT records of large companies and a sample of enterprises (with 10 employees or more) from DIRCE; care is taken to exclude double counting of the same units. More detail on those populations is available in the online version of the present Guide.

5.38.        The results obtained by the international trade in services survey between 2005 and 2012 showed significant differences in level (but not in trend) from those obtained by the Bank of Spain settlements system. Since 2013, the populations and statistical frameworks used in the surveys have remained very diverse. The intention is, however, to reduce to the maximum the number of survey respondents who may state in the questionnaire that they do not carry out such transactions. In the new sampling design, DIRCE does not form a statistical frame by itself. Instead, its main function is to characterize the companies of the different populations by main economic activity and size, to enable the substratification of each stratum by those two variables.

5.38.         In the case of FATS, the set of inward FATS is compiled from the  National Institute of Statistics’ structural business surveys, the majority of which use DIRCE. DIRCE records the “group of enterprises” as a statistical unit. The system is updated on a yearly basis in a similar manner as the other statistical units. The maintenance processes affect the basic features of the groups, as well as the units forming them. In those processes, access to a complete set of administrative databases (corporation tax groups) and private databases (Dun and Bradstreet database or Iberinform shareholder database) is absolutely crucial.

5.39.        The variables available in DIRCE for identifying the inward FATS population include, for each listed company,  its nationality and whether it operates independently or under a group of companies. The set of outward FATS statistics is obtained directly from an administrative register from the Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness, called the Foreign Investments Register (RIE). Its main variables include the identification of the company, its legal status, its main business activity, the number of employees, the turnover rate and other economic variables, the percentage of foreign participation and the country involved and the percentage of Spanish participation, among others.   

Country experience: Uruguay  

5.40.        The National Statistics Institute (INE) of Uruguay is in charge of the creation and maintenance of the SBR. Information sources used for the maintenance of the register are divided into administrative sources (such as the tax authority, social security agencies, internal economic surveys and information from other ministries) and other sources (including phone directories, web pages, members of commercial chambers and press releases and other information on publicly traded companies). The first version of the business register was created after the economic census of 1996. In 2007, a new agreement between the Institute, the tax authority (DGI) and the Social Security Agency (BPS) resulted in a new version of the business register, with those institutions as the main sources of data. In addition, the Ministry of Tourism provides data on hotel occupation. Information from companies operating under the free zone regime is obtained through a census of those companies.

5.41.        In the new version of the register, INE includes information on foreign ownership and on involvement in trade (in services), following the guidelines designed in the Inter-American Development Bank  project for the Latin American Business Register and MSIT 2010. In Uruguay, the SBR will serve as the main tool for detecting enterprises engaged in international trade in services. As part of its new design, information on main and secondary activities, goods and services produced and the destination of the sales (national or foreign and country of destination), the origin of capital (national or foreign) and foreign ownership will also be included. A new survey will subsequently be designed to better estimate international trade in services and FATs. More information on the definition of statistical units used in the SBR of Uruguay is available online.



[1] See Guidelines on Integrated Economic Statistics, United Nations publication, chap. 5, sect. C; see also information on the Task Force established to draft international guidelines on statistical business registers, available from www.unece.org/task_force_business_registers.html

[2] African Development Bank, Guidelines for Building Statistical Business Registers in Africa: Laying the Foundation for the Harmonization of Economic Statistics Programs (Tunis, 2014). Available from .  www.afdb.org/en/knowledge/publications/guidelines-for-building-statistical-business-registers-in-africa.

[3] Further details on the European experience in that respect can be found in Eurostat, Business Registers: Recommendations Manual.  

[4] Overall quality is not easy to measure, although several of its specific aspects can be used as indicators, e.g., coverage, accuracy of the data held, frequency of updates and consistency of processes (see also chapter 20).

[5] See Guidelines on Integrated Economic Statistics, para. 3.29.

[6]See International Recommendations for Industrial Statistics 2008 (IRIS 2008), Statistical Papers, Series M, No. 90  (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.08.XVII.8), para. 2.15.

[7] Ibid., para. 2.12

[8] In addition to the 2008 SNA, IRIS 2008 and the fourth revision of the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities, see Statistics Division “Statistical Units” (October 2007), available from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/industry/docs/stat_2008_6.pdf.

[9] Guidelines on Integrated Economic Statistics, para. 5.67.

[10] Compilers interested in learning more about the detailed aspects involved in the establishment of an effective statistical business register should consult Eurostat, Business Registers: Recommendations Manual.

[11] Eurostat, Business Registers: Recommendations Manual, para. 4.4.

[12] At the time of writing of the present Guide, the two institutions are working together to overcome the mentioned legal obstacles.

[13] In terms of number of enterprises, the coverage of the Bank of Italy business register is about 33 per cent. The apparently low percentage is explained by the fact that the numerous “individual firms” are excluded. In other words, the true population frame of the register is actually the corporate sector, for which the coverage is complete (100 per cent). In any case, the cross-border transactions of individual firms are covered through the tax authority’s data; their cross-border transactions represent about 5 per cent of the total in the “other services” aggregate.

  • No labels