Definitions and process for collecting official U.S. services trade statistics
Last Published: 7/21/2016

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis collects and compiles U.S. services import and export statistics. These are released in a monthly press release entitled U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services report (FT900). The services statistics are estimates of services transactions between foreign countries and the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other U.S. territories and possessions. Unlike trade in goods, which is closely tracked through the submission of EEIs to the AES system, services trade calculations are based on quarterly, annual, and benchmark surveys and information obtained from monthly government and industry reports. No monthly country or area detail is available due to the lack of adequate source data. Country and area detail and additional detail by type of service are published by the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis on a quarterly basis as part of the International Transactions Accounts and on an annual basis.

In June 2014, the BEA introduced a new presentation of the International Transactions Accounts and a new presentation of the International Investment Position. These new presentations reflect a comprehensive restructuring of the international accounts that enhances the quality and usefulness of the accounts for customers and bring the accounts into closer alignment with international guidelines. Additional information on the restructuring is available from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Services trade data are shown in nine broad categories:

  1. Maintenance and repair services n.i.e. (not included elsewhere) - Consists of maintenance and repair services performed by residents of one country on goods that are owned by residents of another country. Excludes such services in which the cost is included in the price of the goods and is not billed separately or is declared as a part of the price of the goods on the import or export declaration filed with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Maintenance and repair of ships, aircraft, and other transport equipment are included under transport services, and maintenance and repair of computers are included under computer services.
  2. Transport - Consists of transactions associated with moving people and freight from one location to another and includes related supporting and auxiliary services. Transport covers all modes of transportation, including air, sea, rail, road, space, and pipeline. Postal and courier services and port services, which cover cargo handling, storage and warehousing, and other related transport services, are also included.
  3. Travel (for all purposes including education) – Includes goods and services acquired by nonresidents while abroad. A traveler is defined as a person who stays, or intends to stay, for less than one year in a country of which he or she is not a resident or as a nonresident whose purpose is to obtain education or medical treatment, no matter how long the stay. Purchases can be either for own use or for gifts to others. Travel is a transactor-based component that covers a variety of goods and services, primarily lodging, meals, transportation in the country of travel, amusement, entertainment, and gifts. This category excludes air passenger services for travel between countries, which are included in transport, and goods for resale, which are included in goods. Travel includes business and personal travel. Business travel covers goods and services acquired for use by persons whose primary purpose for travel is for business (including goods and services for which business travelers are reimbursed by employers). Business travel also includes expenditures by border, seasonal, and other short-term workers in their economy of employment. Personal travel covers travel for all non-business purposes, including for medical or educational purposes.
  4. Insurance services - Includes the direct insurance services of providing life insurance and annuities, non-life (property and casualty) insurance, reinsurance, freight insurance, and auxiliary insurance services. Insurance is measured as gross premiums earned plus premium supplements less claims payable, with an adjustment for claims volatility. Premium supplements represent investment income from insurance reserves, which are attributed to policyholders who are treated as paying the income back to the insurer. Auxiliary insurance services include agents’ commissions, brokerage services, insurance consulting services, actuarial services, and other insurance services.
  5. Financial services - Includes financial intermediary and auxiliary services, except insurance services. These services include those normally provided by banks and other financial institutions. Services primarily include those for which an explicit commission or a fee is charged; implicit fees for bond transactions, measured as the difference between bid and ask prices, are also included. Services include securities brokerage and underwriting, financial management, financial advisory, and custody services; credit and other credit-related services; and securities lending, electronic funds transfer, and other services.
  6. Charges for the use of intellectual property – Includes charges for the use of proprietary rights, such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights, and charges for licenses to use, reproduce, distribute, and sell or purchase intellectual property.
  7. Telecommunications, computer, and information services - Telecommunications services include the broadcast or transmission of sound, images, data, or other information by electronic means. These services do not include the value of the information transmitted. Computer services consist of hardware- and software-related services and data processing services. Sales of customized software and related use licenses, as well as licenses to use noncustomized software with a periodic license fee, are also included, as is software downloaded or otherwise electronically delivered. Cross-border transactions in noncustomized packaged software with a license for perpetual use are included in goods. Information services include news agency services, database services, and web search portals.
  8. Other business services - Consists of research and development services, professional and management consulting services, and technical, trade-related, and other business services. Research and development services include services associated with basic and applied research and experimental development of new products and processes. Professional and management consulting services include legal services, accounting, management consulting, managerial services, public relations services, advertising, and market research. Amounts received by a parent company from its affiliates for general overhead expenses related to these services are included. Technical, trade-related, and other business services include architectural and engineering, construction, audio-visual, waste treatment, operational leasing, trade-related, and other business services.
  9. Government goods and services n.i.e. - Includes goods and services supplied by and to enclaves, such as embassies, military bases, and international organizations; goods and services acquired from the host economy by diplomats, consular staff, and military personnel located abroad and their dependents; and services supplied by and to governments that are not included in other services categories. Services supplied by and to governments are classified to specific services categories when source data permit.

Bureau of Economic Analysis, "Information on U.S. Goods and Services".



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