January 15, 2020

New BEA research offers fresh insights into U.S. firms that export and import services internationally.

The research article published recently in the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Survey of Current Business focuses on firms that are engaged in the trade of “selected services,” a subset of international services trade statistics. BEA’s confidential international surveys gather extensive information on these selected services.

The selected services include: financial services; insurance services; telecommunications, computer, and information services; a category called other business services; and charges for the use of intellectual property. (For more information, see the FAQ “What information does the Bureau of Economic Analysis publish on the characteristics of international services traders?” on BEA’s website.)

The new article covers 2017 and earlier years back to 2008. The last report of this kind was published in 2012 and featured statistics for 2008.

For services traders that are multinational enterprises, or MNEs, BEA is able to gather information from its surveys of U.S. parents and U.S. affiliates.

Highlights from the new article show that in 2017:

  • The largest shares of selected services exports and imports were attributable to firms in the finance and insurance, manufacturing, and information industries.
  • Multinational enterprises accounted for 92 percent of U.S. selected services exports and 91 percent of U.S. selected services imports. Their exports and imports were each at 87 percent in 2008.
  • The surplus on trade in selected services was $176.1 billion, reflecting surpluses for both U.S. parents and non-MNEs and a small, partially-offsetting deficit for majority-owned U.S. affiliates.
  • Trade in selected services by U.S. multinational enterprises and non-MNEs was concentrated in different service types. For multinational enterprises, the largest categories of trade were other business services and charges for the use of intellectual property. For non-MNEs, the largest category of exports was financial services, and the largest category of imports was insurance services.
  • Very large U.S. multinational enterprises (those with at least 10,000 employees) dominated trade in selected services, but small MNEs were more intensive services traders relative to their size.
  • For U.S. multinational enterprises, most services trade was with affiliated parties.

                                                                 U.S. Trade in Selected Services by Multinational Activity, 2008–2017

Selected Services Blog - Approved

For more information, read the full report. Detailed statistics are available in BEA’s interactive tables.