International trade and balance of payments statistics

OECD-WTO Balanced Trade in Services Statistics


High quality data on international trade in services that provide insights into the types of services that are traded, and with which partners, are vital for economic analysis and policy making. However, for many OECD and non-OECD economies, currently available trade in services statistics lack the necessary level of detail. In addition, for those countries where data are available, internal inconsistencies and in particular bilateral trade asymmetries – whereby the exports of country A to country B do not align with the imports of country B from country A – hamper the analytical and policy use of services trade statistics.

To mitigate these problems, OECD and WTO have developed a transparent methodology to create a global dataset of coherent bilateral trade in services statistics by main services categories. The first edition of the OECD-WTO Balanced Trade in Services (BaTIS) dataset is currently available for download. The dataset provides annual data from 1995-2012, covering 191 economies, broken down for the 11 main EBOPS 2002 service categories. Work is ongoing for more recent years, using the 2010 EBOPS classification.


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To develop this dataset, the OECD-WTO have leveraged all available official data, and combined these with estimates using derivations, backcasting techniques, interpolation, and predictions derived from regression models. Exports and imports were subsequently reconciled by calculating a symmetry-index weighted average between the two. This methodology is described in the accompanying paper:



The estimations and balancing procedure implies that the final figure that is included in the OECD-WTO BaTIS database that describes a bilateral trade flow is different from the statistics reported by both countries involved. The size of these differences is a direct function of the asymmetry between both countries. Figure 1 below illustrates, for some of the largest bilateral trade relationships, how the balanced bilateral trade in services relate to the statistics by both partners involved. The figures illustrate that – by definition – the balanced trade values are always a ‘middle ground’ between the two reported figures, and reflect the trends of both.

Figure 1. Balanced bilateral trade in services trade 

1a. United States and United Kingdom

1b.  United States and Japan

1c. Germany and United States

1d Germany and United Kingdom


Since the balanced bilateral trade figure is influenced not only by data by the reporting country but also by each of its mirror partner countries, the balancing of large asymmetries may result in changes in the relative importance of trading partners of countries, as compared to within reported figures. Figure 2 illustrates this, again focusing on some of the largest services exporting countries (for total trade in services). While the partner distribution of trade changes somewhat, very large shifts within the Top 10 trading partners do not typically occur.


Figure 2. Top 10 partner countries for selected large services exporting countries, 2010,
reported versus balanced trade data (partner share in total exports)

Top 10 partner countries for selected large services exporting countries, 2010, reported versus balanced trade data (partner share in total exports)


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