International trade and balance of payments statistics

Handbook on Measuring Digital Trade, Version 1


In response to growing demand for coherent and comparable data on digital trade, in 2017 the Inter-Agency Task Force on International Trade Statistics created an Expert Group, drawn from international organisations, national statistics agencies and central banks, to develop a Handbook that provided: 

  • A conceptual framework to define digital trade, around which national efforts could be targeted; and

  • A mechanism to bring together and share existing national and international efforts on measuring digital trade and/or dimensions of it, that could be used to identify and develop best practice.  

The Handbook reflects the outcome to date of the Expert Group’s efforts. It shows that in many areas work is still very much in its infancy and in some respects (for example as regards the measurement and valuation of many data forms) can best be described as embryonic. 

At the same time, progress continues to be made in frontier issues surrounding the measurement of digital trade. It is hoped, not least by highlighting the importance of such issues, that the current Handbook will help to accelerate and assist in those efforts. Recognising that significant work remains to be done, and at the same time that the structure and impact of the digital economy is evolving rapidly and unpredictably, this Handbook cannot be the final word on the subject, rather it should be viewed from the outset as a living document designed to be updated on a continuous basis as new national and international experiences emerge.

The conceptual framework for digital trade

The conceptual framework for digital trade

Note: Digital Intermediation Platforms (DIPs) are also an important component of Actors. Their current explicit inclusion in the nature of transactions (which may change depending on how measurement efforts evolve) reflects the scope for measuring modes of digital delivery and/or ordering through targeted surveys of DIPs. For a more detailed description of non-monetary information and data, and more generally measurement challenges related to information and data (paid, which are included in the scope of digital trade, or non-monetary, which, currently, are not) see below. Deliberations continue on the precise terminology concerning non-monetary flows. Future versions of this Handbook may introduce different terminology.


Download and comment the Handbook

Handbook on Measuring Digital Trade, Version 1 (PDF) (OECD, WTO and IMF)

For comments, suggestions or additions to the Handbook please contact


Partner Organisations

International Monetary Fund (IMF)


World Trade Organization (WTO)


Inter-Agency Task Force on International Trade Statistics



Related work

Measuring E-commerce and the Digital Economy (UNCTAD)


OECD (2019), Measuring the Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for the Futur


Related Documents