Transatlantic Trade in Services: Investigating Bilateral Asymmetries in EU-U.S. Trade Statistics (PDF)

The European Union (EU) and the United States are the biggest economic partners in international trade in services in the world, with total bilateral trade in 2015 exceeding EUR 400 billion according to the data reported by Eurostat. The United States accounted for close to 30 percent of total Extra-EU trade in services, while for the United States the share of the EU in total trade in services was just over 30 percent. Persistent bilateral asymmetries in trade in services remain, however, a substantial issue and their reduction should lead to improved data quality and increased usefulness of data for users.

This document presents an overview of findings on asymmetries for international trade in services data for the EU-28 and its Member States with the United States, as collected by Eurostat and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Quantitative analysis of the data is accompanied by a discussion of identified differences in applied methodologies that might have contributed to the asymmetries. Data used in the analysis are compiled in the framework of the balance of payments and are based on the methodology in accordance with the IMF Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, 6th edition. Due to availability of bilateral figures and better comparability of more aggregated items, the analysis is limited to total services and 10 services components. Data for manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others (processing abroad) and personal, cultural and recreational services were not available for the United States because BEA does not estimate these services categories. However, values for these items vis-à-vis the United States as estimated by Eurostat have not exceeded 2 percent of total services flows, so they should not significantly impact the overall picture. The asymmetries in services are relatively high compared with asymmetries for trade in goods, being particularly substantial for financial services and other business services. The analysis of the reasons for asymmetries should therefore primarily focus on these service items.

Kristy L. Howell , Robert Obrzut , and Olaf Nowak