Frequently Asked Questions
Guidelines for Citing BEA Information | ID: 548 | Created: Mar-04-2010
The devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 has led to substantial donations of goods, services, and financial assets by U.S. and foreign organizations and individuals. The U.S. donations will be reflected in the monthly statistics for U.S. international trade in goods and services, beginning with the statistics for January, and in the quarterly statistics for the U.S. international transactions accounts (ITAs), beginning with the statistics for the first quarter. However, because BEA’s source data generally do not separately identify the donations for Haiti, it is not possible to determine how much of any period-to-period changes in recorded transactions should be attributed to the Haitian relief efforts. In addition, some donations may not have been reported to source data providers in a timely manner because of the haste to provide aid and the unfamiliarity of some first-time exporters with reporting requirements. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify the line items in the ITAs that are likely to be most affected by the relief efforts.
Donations of goods, such as food, water, medicines, and other supplies, will be recorded as U.S. exports of goods (ITA table 1, line 3). Donations of services, such as services provided by the U.S. military for rescue, security, and rebuilding operations and by U.S. companies for transportation, medical services, and telecommunications, will be recorded as exports of services (ITA table 1, line 4). Although facilitated by U.S. telecommunications companies, donations made through text messaging will not be treated as exports of telecommunications services but will be mostly reflected as transfers made by the American Red Cross and other U.S. organizations that received the funds.
Financial assets donated directly by U.S. residents to foreign residents, such as cash donations by the American Red Cross to the International Red Cross and by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to the United Nations World Food Program, will be recorded mostly as increases in U.S. liabilities to foreigners reported by U.S. banks and securities brokers (ITA table 1, line 69), reflecting the acquisition by these foreign entities of deposits at U.S. banks. (The ITAs treat all international organizations as foreign residents, including those headquartered in the United States.) If the deposits are subsequently used to purchase U.S. goods or services for use in connection with the relief efforts, U.S. liabilities to foreigners reported by banks and securities brokers would decrease and U.S. exports would increase by equal amounts.
Because the ITAs use double-entry accounting, the entries for donations of real and financial resources for earthquake relief must be offset in the accounts, and because the donations were provided without anything of economic value being received in return, the offsetting entries will appear under net unilateral current transfers (ITA table 1, line 35). Within current transfers, the entries will be recorded as part of “U.S. government grants” (ITA table 1, line 36) and “Private remittances and other transfers” (ITA table 1, line 38). “U.S. government grants” includes the value of aid provided by USAID, U.S. military organizations, and other U.S. government entities. “Private remittances and other transfers” includes the value of aid provided by private U.S. institutions, such U.S. charitable and religious organizations, and cash transfers by individuals residing in the United States to individuals residing in Haiti.
In addition to the above-described aid-related transactions, the international accounts will reflect disruption of normal U.S. trade with Haiti for a period of time because of damage to Haitian ocean and air ports and transportation infrastructure and the overall impact of the earthquake on the Haitian economy. There may also be small impacts on insurance losses paid and on income receipts, financial flows, and the investment position for U.S. direct investment in Haiti.
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