Export - Definition

Definition

"Foreign demand for goods produced by home country"

In national accounts "exports" consist of transactions in goods and services (sales, barter, gifts or grants) from residents to non-residents. The exact definition of exports includes and excludes specific "borderline" cases. A general delimitation of exports in national accounts is given below:

  • An export of a good occurs when there is a change of ownership from a resident to a non-resident; this does not necessarily imply that the good in question physically crosses the frontier. However, in specific cases national accounts impute changes of ownership even though in legal terms no change of ownership takes place (e.g. cross border financial leasing, cross border deliveries between affiliates of the same enterprise, goods crossing the border for significant processing to order or repair). Also smuggled goods must be included in the export measurement.
  • Export of services consist of all services rendered by residents to non-residents. In national accounts any direct purchases by non-residents in the economic territory of a country are recorded as exports of services; therefore all expenditure by foreign tourists in the economic territory of a country is considered as part of the exports of services of that country. Also international flows of illegal services must be included.

National accountants often need to make adjustments to the basic trade data in order to comply with national accounts concepts; the concepts for basic trade statistics often differ in terms of definition and coverage from the requirements in the national accounts:

  • Data on international trade in goods are mostly obtained through declarations to custom services. If a country applies the general trade system, all goods entering or leaving the country are recorded. If the special trade system (e.g. extra-EU trade statistics) is applied goods which are received into customs warehouses are not recorded in external trade statistics unless they subsequently go into free circulation in the country of receipt.
  • A special case is the intra-EU trade statistics. Since goods move freely between the member states of the EU without customs controls, statistics on trade in goods between the member states must be obtained through surveys. To reduce the statistical burden on the respondents small scale traders are excluded from the reporting obligation.
  • Statistical recording of trade in services is based on declarations by banks to their central banks or by surveys of the main operators. In a globalized economy where services can be rendered via electronic means (e.g. internet) the related international flows of services are difficult to identify.
  • Basic statistics on international trade normally do not record smuggled goods or international flows of illegal services. A small fraction of the smuggled goods and illegal services may nevertheless be included in official trade statistics through dummy shipments or dummy declarations that serve to conceal the illegal nature of the activities.

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