Work Undertaken by STA and the Committee in 2014

International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
Published Date:
June 2015
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A. Implementation of the BPM6

8. During 2014, STA, in consultation with the Committee, continued work on implementing the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6). As of end-December 2014, 90 countries had reported BPM6-basis estimates for publication in the IMF’s International Financial Statistics and the online Balance of Payments Statistics Database. Using standardized conversion formulas, STA converts data for countries that continue reporting data to the IMF on a Balance of Payments Manual, fifth edition (BPM5) basis. In response to strong user demands for a longer time series of BPM6-basis estimates, the Committee endorsed STA’s proposals to start re-disseminating economies’ official pre-2005 BPM6-basis estimates during the first half of 2015, and to release pre-2005 BPM6-basis estimates converted by STA from a BPM5-basis at the end of 2015 or early in 2016, in consultation with national compilers. STA will update its data base with BPM6-based official country estimates as these become available.

9. STA apprised the Committee of its other BPM6 outreach activities, including the completion of the BPM6 Compilation Guide (BPM6 CG), the launching of two new training courses, and the conversion of balance of payments data in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO) to a BPM6 basis. As a companion document to BPM6, the finalized BPM6 CG provides practical advice on source data and methodologies that may be used in compiling BPM6-basis estimates by countries – from the least developed to the most advanced. Its drafting profited from the experience of IMF staff, international account compilers, and the Committee, and was already being widely used in the conduct of IMF’s technical assistance and training programs even before its final publication. The Committee appreciated STA’s plan of updating the BPM5 Textbook, the second companion document to BPM6, which focuses on enhancing compilers’ understanding of BPM6 methodology and concepts. The Committee also supported STA’s two new training courses: one based on the BPM6 CG, aiming to assist countries to strengthen the link between concepts and compilation; and the second course, to help compilers fill data gaps in external sector position statistics. Lastly, the Committee was informed about STA’s and the IMF Research Department’s (RES) efforts that led to releasing balance of payments data on a BPM6 basis in the April 2014 WEO. The Committee was also informed that IIP data on a BPM6 basis will be presented in WEO for the first time in its April 2015 edition.

10. Committee members shared their plans for compiling BPM6 datasets (including standard datasets and supplementary datasets) and harmonizing their datasets. Turkey has embarked on a pilot exercise to compile currency composition data on Turkey’s external assets and liabilities. A table on the currency composition of position data is a BPM6 enhancement to the IIP, promoted also under G-20 Data Gaps Initiative (DGI) Recommendation #12. The Nederlandsche Bank informed the Committee of its project with Statistics Netherlands for compiling fully consistent quarterly balance of payments and national accounts statistics. The Netherlands has plans to shift from compiling a full monthly balance of payments statement toward compiling a set of monthly high level indicators. The European Central Bank (ECB) and Eurostat highlighted their plans to release BPM6 euro area/EU aggregates by November 2014, marking a milestone after years of preparation, including translating the compilation of BPM6 datasets into legal acts.4

B. Global Interconnectedness and Reserves-Related Initiatives

11. The Committee emphasized the progress that has been made by STA and individual economies towards strengthening external sector statistics, and welcomed the Fund’s presentations on the increased use of these data for surveillance purposes. The IMF’s Strategy, Policy, and Review Department made a presentation during the annual meeting on demonstrating the use of national balance sheet data to analyze risks and spillovers within and among economies to better trace and forecast the propagation of shocks; and RES presented its multilateral assessment of the largest economies’ external positions with the aim to identify and address the possible transmission of spillovers across countries. Both analyses heavily rely on external positions statistics, such as data from the Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS) and IIP.

12. The Committee confirmed its continued support for interconnectedness-related initiatives, including a second phase of the DGI, and welcomed work on promoting the development of additional data on positions, and reducing bilateral asymmetries. Regarding the IIP, the focus has been on increasing the number of reporting economies, expanding quarterly reporting, and the adoption of BPM6. The CPIS Data Enhancement Project has continued its efforts to broaden participation; and to improve data quality through encouraging enhancements in frequency, timeliness, and scope of the data. During 2014, participating economies had submitted semi-annual CPIS5 data for the first time. To further enhance the Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS)6 data quality, STA has launched a Bilateral Asymmetries Project to raise awareness of and help understand and address large bilateral asymmetries. The United States presented its investigations of bilateral asymmetries, and summarized work underway or planned to reduce its asymmetries. Twenty-seven EU Member States have joined the European Foreign Direct Investment Network to exchange micro data on foreign direct investments aiming at improving consistency of the EU and euro area balance of payments statistics.

13. The Committee endorsed work by the IMF, Financial Stability Board (FSB), and Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to close data gaps on foreign currency exposures through promoting the reporting of information on the Currency Composition of Assets and Liabilities as recommended in BPM6, using the IIP as a comprehensive framework for monitoring economies’ external positions. The Committee noted the difficulty of compiling data on the currency composition. It was agreed that STA would undertake further consultations with users to ensure that the objective of capturing exposures is met by the data collection of assets and liabilities including derivatives and report back to the Committee. The Committee commended the Australian Bureau of Statistics on its quadrennial Survey of Foreign Currency Exposure which collects data to help address some gaps that commonly exist in national data on foreign currency exposures.

14. The Committee members’ views have also been sought on a number of ongoing initiatives regarding the measurement of global interconnectedness. The recording of Factoryless Goods Production (FGP) is one of the issues requiring further statistical guidance and clarification that the Task Force on Global Production (TFGP)7 brought to the attention of various international bodies, such as the Advisory Expert Group (AEG) and the Committee, before finalizing its Guide on Measuring Global Production. Due to the complexity of the activities of FGPs, the Committee, in line with the AEG, decided that further research regarding FGPs is necessary. The Committee was also asked to look into the request STA has received from the Inter-Agency Group on Economic and Financial Statistics (IAG) regarding the possibility of compiling a quarterly G-20 aggregate on international trade in goods and services for dissemination on the Principal Global Indicators Website. The Committee supported STA’s proposal to develop the trade aggregate based on the IMF’s balance of payments database after more G-20 countries adopt BPM6 and reporting lags are reduced, and encouraged a presentation on the trade aggregate estimation methodology to the IAG.

15. The Committee appreciated that high-level support within the IMF was secured to continue the work on exploring the feasibility of developing a statistical definition of foreign exchange market intervention for analytical and IMF surveillance purposes, and emphasized the sensitivity of data on intervention activities. Following a request by some IMF Executive Board members in 2013, a Survey of Foreign Exchange Market Intervention was designed by STA (with input from other IMF Departments) and conducted in August/September 2013. The results of the Survey reflected the views of members of the Reserve Assets Technical Expert Group (RESTEG) on the definition of, and other key questions pertaining to, foreign exchange market intervention. The results of the survey confirmed that many central banks do not publish foreign exchange intervention data and there is no standard definition of what constitutes intervention. As next steps, STA will reach out to analysts and other stakeholders, including to various IMF departments, BIS, other relevant groups and agencies, and RESTEG to continue the development of a statistical definition of foreign exchange market intervention, and report back to the Committee.

16. The Committee supported the dissemination to the public of a quarterly table showing non-SDR basket currencies as a percentage of total foreign exchange reserves,8 and agreed to slightly expand the sharing of confidential reserves-related data with the explicit consent of the authorities that submit these data.

C. Work of Other International Organizations

17. The other international organizations participating in the Committee meeting reported on their work. The BIS reported on the motivations for the enhancements to the international banking statistics database and described additional data sets being collected.

18. The OECD reported on recent activities of the Inter-Agency Task Force on International Trade Statistics, including the final steps to produce the Compiler’s Guide for the Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Services that would complement the services chapters of the BPM6 CG.9

19. The OECD also reported on the recent activities of the Working Group on International Investment Statistics including the implementation of the fourth edition of the OECD Benchmark Definition of Foreign Direct Investment (BMD4) and the extensive communication effort to support users in understanding the changes introduced with the implementation of BPM6 and BMD4.

20. The Progress Report on Work of the Interagency Task Force on Finance Statistics noted the publication of the 2013 External Debt Statistics Guide.10

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