Country experience: United States: combining statistics on resident/non-resident transactions in services and FATS 

20.60.    The United States Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) releases statistics on the international sales and purchases of services on an annual basis.[1] Those statistics cover resident/non-resident transactions in services as well as services supplied through locally established direct investment enterprises, or affiliates, obtained from FATS. [2]  

20.61.    The annual statistics on resident/non-resident transactions in services are consistent with the statistics on United States trade in services that BEA disseminates via monthly (global aggregates for selected types of services), quarterly (detail for more types of services and for selected partner countries and regions) and annual (greatest details by service categories and by partner) releases.  The statistics on services supplied through affiliates included in the international services statistics are derived from FATS.  Separate releases for inward and outward FATS provide detail by country and industry for all the data items that BEA collects. 

20.62.    In the presentation on international purchases and sales of services, resident/non-resident transactions of exports and imports represent trade in the conventional sense and cover transactions between residents of the United States and residents of foreign countries. They include both transactions between unaffiliated parties and trade within multinational enterprises (intrafirm trade).  The data on services supplied through affiliates cover majority-owned affiliates and include services supplied to foreign residents through the foreign affiliates of United States multinational enterprises and services supplied to United States residents through the United States affiliates of foreign multinational enterprises.  Such transactions are not considered United States international transactions because, under the residency principle of BOP accounting, affiliates of multinational enterprises are regarded as residents of the countries where they are located rather than of the countries of their owners. The measures of services supplied are based on data that require affiliates’ sales or gross operating revenues to be distributed among sales of goods, sales of services and investment income. 

20.63.    BEA recognizes in its reports that there are differences in coverage that make comparisons of services supplied through affiliates to resident/non-resident transactions imprecise.[3]  However, the large gap between resident/non-resident transactions and services supplied through affiliates indicates the importance of such services as a channel through which enterprises sell services to foreign markets.  This could be due to the fact that selling through locally established affiliates is the only practical method of delivery for many types of services because of the need for proximity in both time and space between the consumer and the producer.  In addition to coverage differences, precise comparisons of the relative size of the two modes of delivery cannot be made for specific types of services because the data on cross-border trade are classified by type of service, whereas the data on sales of services through affiliates are classified by the primary industry of the affiliate. An example of the data release on the United States international supply of services is provided in table 20.4.

[1] See  website of the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis,

[2] Cross-border trade in private services excludes transactions by the Government of the United States (including the military). Trade in private services is featured in the statistics on international sales and purchases of services because they are most comparable to the services supplied through affiliates, which cover activities of businesses.

[3] An example of a difference in coverage is the inclusion of distributive services in the measure of services supplied through affiliates but not in the cross-border trade statistics. The distributive services associated with importing and exporting goods are included indistinguishably in the value of trade in goods.