B.4  Good practices and comparison of data sources for other services[1]  

11.15.        For most of the other services, the present Guide suggests that enterprise/establishment surveys could provide a large share of sources for estimates. The advantage of such surveys is that they could be designed to collect specific information corresponding to the compiler’s needs.

11.16.        Surveys are costly to process, however, and are also costly for the respondents, as they have to train employees to complete questionnaires. This is particularly true for transactions in services, which are difficult to extract from accounting documents. Increasing the response burden of small entities could be counterproductive as it could affect their interest in responding to other surveys for which their participation is more important.

11.17.    To improve efficiency in data collection, enterprise/establishment surveys could be designed to target a specific activity or specific industry, in particular for exports. In certain cases, such targeting may also be relevant for imports of services (e.g., affiliated companies or activities for which outsourcing or /offshoring of activities may be important). Respondents could then be asked to provide more detail for services activities in which they are likely involved and less detail for other services where they expect to have negligible impact. In addition, it is important to note that collecting representative data for imports of services may be more difficult than for exports, as any resident entity, large or small, can import services. However, as indicated above, a number of factors could be used to define those enterprises or establishments that are more likely to be major importers of services.

11.18.    As with any other survey, the degree to which a sample is representative of the population is a key indicator for the quality of the results. Compilers should take advantage of all other available sources of data to supplement and validate survey results and to reduce processing costs and reporting burdens.

11.19.    An ITRS has the great advantage of providing larger coverage than enterprise/establishment surveys. An ITRS comes with a strong degree of obligation for the respondents to provide the information requested. The costs for compiling ITRS data may be low, as the compilers can concentrate their efforts and resources on items that are not sufficiently covered. However, in some cases, it might be difficult to incorporate details, e.g., EBOPS, in reporting forms.

11.20.    Administrative records cover a large portion of transactors, but may not be sufficient for all services categories. A promising source in that respect is tax records that include the value of services sold to or purchased from non-residents (value added tax (VAT) for services), as well as the location of the service transaction. That information can be particularly useful for identifying service traders. The advantages of those records are low cost and timeliness and completeness, the latter because tax or finance departments may have greater powers to convince respondents. The drawback is that, since the main purpose of this source is not to produce statistics, the validation of the results might not be adequate for the compiler’s needs, and the compiler has no control over changes to, or even the abolishment of, the data source by the tax authorities.


[1] Excluding manufacturing, government goods and services n.i.e., transport services, and travel.