Commercial service exports (current US$)

Definition: Commercial service exports are total service exports minus exports of government services not included elsewhere. International transactions in services are defined by the IMF's Balance of Payments Manual (1993) as the economic output of intangible commodities that may be produced, transferred, and consumed at the same time. Definitions may vary among reporting economies.

Description: The map below shows how Commercial service exports (current US$) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is United States, with a value of 690,127,000,000.00. The country with the lowest value in the world is Central African Republic, with a value of 0.00.

Source: International Monetary Fund, Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook and data files.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Trade in services differs from trade in goods because services are produced and consumed at the same time. Thus services to a traveler may be consumed in the producing country (for example, use of a hotel room) but are classified as imports of the traveler's country. In other cases services may be supplied from a remote location; for example, insurance services may be supplied from one location and consumed in another.

Limitations and Exceptions: Balance of payments statistics, the main source of information on international trade in services, have many weaknesses. Disaggregation of important components may be limited and varies considerably across countries. There are inconsistencies in the methods used to report items. And the recording of major flows as net items is common (for example, insurance transactions are often recorded as premiums less claims). These factors contribute to a downward bias in the value of the service trade reported in the balance of payments. Efforts are being made to improve the coverage, quality, and consistency of these data. Eurostat and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, for example, are working together to improve the collection of statistics on trade in services in member countries. Still, difficulties in capturing all the dimensions of international trade in services mean that the record is likely to remain incomplete. Cross-border intrafirm service transactions, which are usually not captured in the balance of payments, have increased in recent years. An example is transnational corporations' use of mainframe computers around the clock for data processing, exploiting time zone differences between their home country and the host countries of their affiliates. Another important dimension of service trade not captured by conventional balance of payments statistics is establishment trade - sales in the host country by foreign affiliates. By contrast, cross-border intrafirm transactions in merchandise may be reported as exports or imports in the balance of payments.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: The balance of payments (BoP) is a double-entry accounting system that shows all flows of goods and services into and out of an economy; all transfers that are the counterpart of real resources or financial claims provided to or by the rest of the world without a quid pro quo, such as donations and grants; and all changes in residents' claims on and liabilities to nonresidents that arise from economic transactions. All transactions are recorded twice - once as a credit and once as a debit. In principle the net balance should be zero, but in practice the accounts often do not balance, requiring inclusion of a balancing item, net errors and omissions. The concepts and definitions underlying the data are based on the sixth edition of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Balance of Payments Manual (BPM6). Balance of payments data for 2005 onward will be presented in accord with the BPM6. The historical BPM5 data series will end with data for 2008, which can be accessed through the World Development Indicators archives. The complete balance of payments methodology can be accessed through the International Monetary Fund website (

Aggregation method: Gap-filled total

Periodicity: Annual