Computer-related services, as well as many other types of services, may be provided to foreign markets via either of the two major channels of delivery—cross-border trade and services supplied through affiliates. In addition, some computer-related services may be embedded in goods that are exported to foreign markets, or they may be delivered in ways that result in entries in the U.S. international transactions accounts under income rather than under trade in goods and services. As a result, the total value of these services may be scattered across several categories of cross border trade and services supplied through affiliates, which can both be accessed via the BEA website at http://www.bea.gov/international/international_services.htm.
Cross-border receipts for “computer and data processing services” and “database and other information services” are shown under “business, professional, and technical services” in tables 1 and 7 on the Web site listed above. Computer-related services delivered to foreign markets through cross-border software-licensing agreements, such as onsite licenses, are included in “general-use computer software” under “royalties and license fees” in table 4.1
Sales of computer-related services to foreign residents through foreign affiliates typically exceeds cross-border exports of these services, reflecting the advantages of a local commercial presence when delivering these services to foreign customers. The available data on services supplied through affiliates are classified by the primary industry of the affiliate rather than by type of service; computer-related services may also be supplied through affiliates in several other industries, particularly machinery manufacturing and wholesale trade. Data on services supplied to foreign persons through U.S.-owned affiliates are available in table 9 on the Web site listed above.
Finally, the wages of U.S. residents who provide computer services to nonresidents are included in “compensation receipts” in the international transactions accounts, available at http://www.bea.gov/iTable/index_ita.cfm (table 1, line 17), but their value cannot be separately identified. Compensation covers the earnings of U.S. individuals who are employees of nonresident firms and the earnings of certain independent individuals who provide services to nonresidents; it is classified in the international transactions accounts as “income” rather than as services. If a U.S. resident goes abroad to provide these services, the length of stay must be less than 1 year; otherwise, the individual is considered a foreign resident.
1 Receipts and payments for general-use software that is packaged and physically shipped to or from the United States are included in trade in goods. The value of software that is preinstalled on computer equipment and peripherals is captured in the value of this hardware, so it is also included in trade in goods.