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Changes to Goods and Services and Comprehensive Restructuring of the International Economic Accounts

On June 4, 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the U.S. Census Bureau released “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services: April 2014” and “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services: Annual Revision for 2013.” With these releases, statistics on both U.S. trade in goods and U.S. trade in services were revised for January 1999 to March 2014. The revised statistics were also included in the report “U.S International Transactions: First Quarter 2014 and Annual Revisions” and in the international transactions interactive database on BEA’s Web site, which were both released by BEA on June 18, 2014.

Goods and Services

With the release of the annual revision of the U.S. International Transactions Accounts (ITAs), BEA has introduced new table presentations, including a new presentation of services, as part of a comprehensive restructuring of BEA’s international economic accounts. This change in presentation, combined with changes in definitions and classifications, enhances the quality and usefulness of the accounts for data users and brings the statistics into closer alignment with international guidelines. Additional information was presented in the March 2014 Survey of Current Business article, “The Comprehensive Restructuring of the International Economic Accounts: Changes in Definitions, Classifications, and Presentations.” Changes that impact the “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services” release are discussed below. These changes do not impact the balance on goods and services.

Beginning with statistics for 1999, net exports of goods under merchanting, which were previously included in exports of services under other private services, have been reclassified to exports of goods on a balance of payments (BOP) basis. These net exports reflect the net value of goods that are purchased and subsequently sold abroad without entering the United States. Because these goods do not cross the U.S. customs frontier, their value is not recorded in the data for goods on a Census basis. This reclassification was made through a new BOP adjustment. BOP adjustments, which are adjustments that BEA applies to goods on a Census basis to convert them to a BOP basis, are combined and presented as net adjustments in this release.

Beginning with statistics for 1999, the services categories shown in Exhibits 3 and 4 have changed, and the number of categories has increased from seven to nine. The new categories are: maintenance and repair services n.i.e. (not included elsewhere); transport; travel (for all purposes including education); insurance services; financial services; charges for the use of intellectual property n.i.e.; telecommunications, computer, and information services; other business services; and government goods and services n.i.e.

The category other transportation is renamed transport and now includes passenger fares, which is no longer shown as a separate category in the trade release. However, a monthly series for passenger fares is available on BEA’s Web site at www.bea.gov/newsreleases/international/trade/trad_time_series.xls. The definition of travel is broadened to include health-related and education-related travel and the expenditures on goods and services by border, seasonal, and other short-term workers, all of which were previously included in other private services. To distinguish it from the old measure, the new measure is named travel (for all purposes including education). As with passenger fares, a monthly series for the old definition of travel is available on BEA’s Web site in the file referenced above. Royalties and license fees is renamed charges for the use of intellectual property n.i.e. Transfers under U.S. military agency sales contracts (for exports), direct defense expenditures (for imports), and U.S. government miscellaneous services (for exports and imports) are now part of government goods and services n.i.e. Maintenance and repair services n.i.e., financial services, and insurance services, all of which were previously included in other private services, are now shown as separate categories. Other business services consists of the remaining components of other private services.

Goods

Exports and imports of goods on a Census basis for 2011–2013 were revised to apply corrections and adjustments to previously published not seasonally adjusted statistics. Statistics for 2013 were also revised to redistribute monthly data that arrived too late for inclusion in the month of transaction and were initially included in the month in which the data were received. Seasonal and trading-day adjustments were then recalculated, and the seasonally adjusted current-dollar series were revised beginning with statistics for 2011.

In addition to revised statistics on goods on a Census basis and to the new BOP adjustment for net exports of goods under merchanting described above, exports and imports of goods on a BOP basis were revised to incorporate newly available and revised source data on other BOP adjustments beginning with 2009.

Services

In addition to the new categories described above, exports and imports of services were revised beginning with statistics for 1999 to incorporate 1) an improved estimation methodology for travel, 2) revised source data on the number of U.S. residents traveling abroad that resulted in revisions to travel (for all purposes including education) exports and imports and to transport imports, which include passenger fares, 3) revised seasonal adjustments, and 4) revised interpolations of quarterly source data to monthly statistics. Statistics beginning with 2011 were also revised to incorporate newly available and revised source data, primarily from BEA’s surveys of international services transactions.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact BEA’s Balance of Payments Division at InternationalAccounts@bea.gov.