External trade in services
Updated: 1 September 2023
Next update: 1 December 2023
About the statistics
The statistics External trade in services show Norwegian non-financial corporations revenues on exports of services, and expenses for imports of services. The figures are collected as a quarterly sample survey.
Imports of services comprise all services delivered to the reporting enterprise by companies, affiliates, legal persons or other units regarded as foreigners, and for which payments are made to the counterparts. The services can be delivered either in Norway or abroad.
Exports of services comprise all services delivered from the reporting enterprise to companies, affiliates, legal persons or other units regarded as foreigners, and for which payments are made by the counterparts. The services can be delivered either in Norway or abroad.
Enterprise (or the Reporting group) Trade in services with foreign affiliates within the same reporting group shall be included in the quarterly report in the same manner as other trade in services with foreign companies, specified with type of service (CPA-code). Such trade in services must also be specified in individual items, and reported correspondingly as “herav eksport av konserninterne tjenester (of which internal export of services within the same group)" for export and “herav import av konserninterne tjenester (of which internal import of services within the same group)" for import of services.
- In this context, "group" means units with a certain relationship, such as parent company, subsidiaries, (sister companies and others) and branches, etc.
- A holding company or parent company is a company that owns enough voting stock in another firm to control management and operations by influencing or electing its board of directors.
- A subsidiary is a company that is owned and directly controlled by the parent company.
- A sub-subsidiary is a company that is owned and directly controlled by the subsidiary, but is not directly controlled by the parent company.
- “Control" means possession of more than 50 per cent of the ownership of another company.
Import: The country the foreign trade partner (supplier) is registered in.
Export: The country the foreign trade partner (customer) is registered in.
In terms of economical statistics, use of common standards is essential in enabling the comparison and analysis of statistical data at national / international level and over time.
From 2010 on, the Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities 2007 (SN 2007) has been used. SN 2007 correlates with the EU's standard NACE Rev. 2, and forms the basis for coding units according to principal activity in the Central Register of Establishments and Enterprises.
Until the published statistics for the year 2009, the Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities 2002 (SN 2002) was being used, which is a Norwegian adaption of NACE Rev. 1. (EUROSTAT).
The EU product standard “Classification of Products by Activity" (CPA).
Alfa-2-code of ISO 3166 is being used. The codes are defined at SSb's "Classification of country codes"
From 2006 until 2010 the statistics were published annually, and from the 1st quarter 2011 the statistics is being published on a quarterly basis.
The statistics forms an important part of the balance of payments statistics and the national accounts, and the data is used as a part of the reporting to international institutions such as IMF, OECD and Eurostat; the statistical office of the EU.
Collected and revised data are stored securely by Statistics Norway in compliance with applicable legislation on data processing.
Statistics Norway can grant access to the source data (de-identified or anonymised microdata) on which the statistics are based, for researchers and public authorities for the purposes of preparing statistical results and analyses. Access can be granted upon application and subject to conditions. Refer to the details about this at Access to data from Statistics Norway.
The statistics on external trade in services was established in 2005, when the Central Bank of Norway discontinued the foreign payment statistics.
The purpose of the statistics is to give information about service flows between Norway and other countries. Income and expenditure in connection with exports and imports of services to and from other countries are important economic indicators, both in describing structural changes and in monitoring the economic trends.
The statistics are an important basis for prognoses and analyses by public authorities, research institutions and private organisations. International organisations like the UN statistical office, the statistical office of the EU (Eurostat) and others make use of the information that the external trade statistics gives. The external trade statistics are a part of the national and international statistical systems, and are also used in the compilation of the national accounts and the balance of payments statistics.
International trade in services for non-financial enterprises is an important source for export and import of services in the national accounts and the balance of payments statistics.
Exports and imports of services in the national accounts (and the balance of payments) include more than trade in services by non-financial enterprises. Both the balance of payments and the national accounts include trade in services that all domestic sectors have with other countries. In addition to non-financial enterprises; these are : financial enterprises, non-profit organizations, households and public administration. In addition to this difference in extent, there also are some differences in definitions. The most important are that the national accounts (and the balance of payments statistics):
- Includes the freightage in connection with the value of imported goods (CIF-value), and not via the import of services
- Includes the value of Norwegian shipping enterprises' freightage in connection with export of goods from Norway, independent of who are paying for the commission, while external trade in services for non-financial enterprises only includes such freight if the foreign part is paying
- Estimates import and export of insurance services as a share of premium payment.
- Estimates import and export of indirectly measured banking services.
- Redefines some goods where the value is dominated by the service content.
- Includes conventional estimated export and import according to Norway’s ownership in the Nordic airline company, SAS.
Another difference is that when it comes to freight income in shipping and distribution by country, external trade in services for non-financial enterprises follow the payments, while in balance of payments, statistics on arrivals of vessels are being used.
All the conditions mentioned above give non-comparable figures between the statistics of international trade in services for non-financial enterprises, and the numbers for exports and imports of services given in the national accounts and the balance of payments.
The statistics are developed, produced and disseminated pursuant to Act no. 32 of 21 June 2019 relating to official statistics and Statistics Norway (the Statistics Act).
European Parliament and Council Regulation No. 184/2005 - amended by Regulation No. 602/2006 and 707/2009 -incorporated in the EEA-agreement ruling the scope of the statistics, with obligations under EU regulations for data compiling and transmission of data to the EU's statistical office, Eurostat.
The statistics include external trade in services and are compiled through a quarterly reporting from non-financial Norwegian enterprises. Until 2008, the survey was annual.
The reporting unit is the legal entities that produce goods and services for sale. The population in this survey is based on the information from the Central Register of Establishments and Enterprises (VoF). The population is updated using various administrative registers, such as the Register of Cross border Transactions and Currency Exchange, information through contact with the largest reporting enterprises and information in the media.
The statistics are based on information from non-financial enterprises. The respondents shall report data every quarter.
The population concerning external trade in services for non-financial enterprises includes all enterprises. The population excludes small enterprises which have no or just a small amount of external trade in services. To join this very limited population, the rest of the enterprises must fulfill at least one of the following five criteria:
- Total ingoing and outgoing cash flow transactions exceeding NOK 500 000, or outgoing transactions concerning import of services exceeding NOK 50 000 based on cash flow statistics
- FATS (Foreign-controlled enterprises in Norway/ Norwegian controlled enterprises abroad)
- The enterprise has been in the sample for at least four years, and has reported figures on external trade in services
- Enterprises within the quarrying and mining industry, which has joined VAT number with an enterprise which fulfill the first criteria
- The enterprise is within the external ocean transport industry, and has a turnover of at least NOK 5 000 000 .
When all enterprises not fulfilling at least one of these five criteria are excluded, one is left with around 33 000 enterprises.
The population includes following sectors in the Classification of institutional sector :
• 1110 - Public unincorporated enterprises, owned by central government
• 1120 - Public unincorporated enterprises, owned by central government
• 1510 - Public unincorporated enterprises, owned by local government
• 1520 - Public unincorporated enterprises, owned by local government
• 2100 - Private non-financial incorporated enterprises
• 2300 - Private non-financial unincorporated enterprises
• 2500 - Private non-profit institutions serving enterprises
• 8200 -.Unincorporated enterprises within households
• 4900 - Other financial enterprises outside of insurance - only individual groups
The stratification is based on the desire to divide the population into homogeneous groups. The stratification should ideally reflect homogeneity inside of the group, and a difference in the service trade between the groups. The different strata are defined by industry, how important industries are for trade in services, figures from the foreign exchange register and division according to "FATS /non-FATS" enterprises.
From the population, a sample of enterprises is drawn stratified simply by chance. To allocate the sample between the strata, optimal allocation has been used.
The sample is distributed among enterprises with high significance of having external trade in services, and enterprises who are drawn randomly. The companies with high significance belong to a group that we are quite sure they have trade in services abroad.
The share of the randomly drawn enterprises was reduced by 20 per cent in 2016 to meet the demand for reduced reporting burden for medium and small enterprises. This means that the total sample now is about 2,700, of which 700 with high significance.
The data is sent to Statistics Norway electronically, either by filling the Web questionnaire or by uploading the data file via Altinn (Norwegian internett portal for businesses, private individuals and public agencies for transmitting data). The reporting deadline for each quarterly reporting is the 25th day of the month following the end of the reporting period.
The data are checked when reported to Statistics Norway, and for some types of errors, the respondent is contacted to get the errors corrected. The data are also verified by comparing them with data from previous reports, accounting data, annual reports and other sources.
The trade in services is estimated by using a stratified expansion estimate. This estimator is calculated as follows:
1. Within each stratum, the average export / import figures are calculated (i.e. based on the sample)
2. Because the sample is drawn in a simple random stratification, these averages could be good estimates of the actual averages in the various strata. Any extreme observations are kept out in the calculation of the average.
3. Within each stratum we multiply the calculated averages with the number of enterprises in the stratum (in the limited population). This will be an estimate of total exports / imports in the stratum.
Fo the time being, the data is not seasonally adjusted.
Employees of Statistics Norway have a duty of confidentiality.
Statistics Norway does not publish figures if there is a risk of the respondent’s contribution being identified. This means that, as a general rule, figures are not published if fewer than three units form the basis of a cell in a table or if the contribution of one or two respondents constitutes a very large part of the cell total.
Statistics Norway can make exceptions to the general rule if deemed necessary to meet the requirements of the EEA agreement, if the respondent is a public authority, if the respondent has consented to this, or when the information disclosed is openly accessible to the public.
More information can be found on Statistics Norway’s website under Methods in official statistics, in the ‘Confidentiality’ section.
After United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU was formally completed on the 1st of February 2020, there was a change in the statistics "foreign trade in services". Since the survey does not measure trade every month, but for the quarter as a whole, the United Kingdom in the statistics is moved from the region "EU countries outside the Nordic countries" to the region "Rest of Europe" as of Q1 2020.
Starting with the 1st quarter of 2019, a new type of service was introduced: "IT-related license fees" which will affect the existing type of service "Royalties and license fees". This means that the export/import of "IT services" and export/import of "Other services" cannot be directly compared to previous publications.
In conjunction with the first quarter of 2017, a change has been made in the compilation of service types. The service grouping railway and land transport services was merged with air transport services to a new group of air and land transport services. This applies to Tables 2 and 4, which show foreign trade services for non-financial corporations, by service type. In Statbank table 10192, the changes date back to Q1 2015. This means that the figures are not directly comparable with the previous publications.
The statistics have also undergone a change of methodology, and figures for the foreign shipping industry were taken from the publication for 2010 and up to and including the publication for 1Q 2013. Figures for 2Q 2013 are therefore not comparable with early publications. This method conversion implies a change in the use of sources. See the national accounts' web pages on International accounts.
See also : Coherence with other statistics above.
The figures the companies report to SSB should only concern external trade in services. There might be some difficulties in differentiating between goods and services, and between a Norwegian unit and a foreign unit. This might lead to weakness for the statistics, since errors and ommission may occur in the reporting.
Many of the reporting enterprises are involved in huge projects, this can affect the data collected, especially when large projects are created and are completed.
A weakness of the statistic can be due to non-response. To overcome this problem with both partial- and total missing data, missing values are imputed.
Another possible error is the sampling error; which is the difference between the sample's reported values and the values that would be if the whole population was investigated. To reduce this problem we try to make sure that the biggest companies are included in the sample.
External trade in services publishes preliminary figures quarterly. However, further revisions of the figures continue for five more quarters, until the final figures are released. Corrections in data mean that the quarterly figures can be changed until publication of the final figures. The difference between the preliminary figures and the final figures is usually small at the aggregated level. At the detailed level, and for individual quarters, revisions can have greater significance, in relative terms. Table 5 in each release of the statistics show the revisions form previous publications.
Revision plan External trade in services
The year before last
Q1 (June year T)
Q2 (Sept year T)
Q3 (Dec year T)
Q4 (Mar year T+1)
R1 - FR5 = Revision number (R1 = first revision, FR5 = Final figures, Revison no. 5)
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