November 19, 2018

Looking for the most-up-to-date detailed information on services supplied to and received from foreigners? A recent article in the October Survey of Current Business highlights the latest annual international services statistics now available at BEA.

The statistics cover services provided in two ways:

  • Trade in services—that is, services traded between U.S. residents and nonresidents. This includes U.S. exports to other countries, such as a U.S. law firm providing legal services over the internet to a client in the United Kingdom. It also includes services imported into the United States, such as a French accountant traveling to the United States to provide bookkeeping services.
  • Services supplied by affiliates of multinational enterprises. This includes services supplied to foreign markets by foreign affiliates of U.S. multinational enterprises, as when a Japanese affiliate of a U.S. satellite television provider sells subscriptions to Japanese customers. It also includes services to the U.S. market by U.S. affiliates of foreign multinational enterprises, as when a U.S. affiliate of a Canadian hotel chain rents rooms in Seattle to U.S. customers.

The article also presents statistics on trade in information and communications technology services, as well as trade in services that potentially could be delivered using those technologies (such as the U.S. law firm serving its British client via the internet). Within trade in services, more than half of exports and nearly half of imports are types that are potentially delivered through information and communications technology.

The October article highlights statistics for trade in services for 2017 and statistics for services supplied through affiliates for 2016, the latest year for which they are available.

Here are some of the findings:

  • In 2017, U.S. services exports increased 5 percent to $797.7 billion, and services imports increased 6 percent to $542.5 billion. The U.S. surplus on trade in services increased $6.2 billion, driven by increases in the surpluses on trade in financial services and trade in other business services.
  • In 2016, total services supplied by the United States to foreign persons through both exports and foreign affiliates of U.S. companies was $2.2 trillion. Total services received by the United States through both imports and U.S. affiliates of foreign companies was $1.5 trillion. As in recent years, more services were supplied from and to the United States through affiliates of multinational enterprises than through trade in services.
  • In 2016, services provided to foreigners through foreign affiliates of U.S. multinational enterprises decreased slightly to $1.5 trillion, and services provided to the United States through U.S. affiliates of foreign multinational enterprises increased 4 percent to $995.1 billion.

All the data cited in the article and much more can be found in BEA’s interactive data tables.

The international services statistics provide BEA’s most detailed information by service type or industry and by country. This year, the article also spotlights how natural disasters and other catastrophes—such as those that hit the United States in 2017—are reflected in BEA’s statistics on U.S. imports of insurance services.