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Trade and Investment Data Review Project
18.22 The Trade and Investment Data Review Working Group, of which the ABS is an active member, was one of a number of projects established by Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) senior officials in 1990. The project’s basic aims are to gather statistics on goods and services trade and international investment between APEC economies, in order to minimise the discrepancies between national statistics and maximise the utility of these data. For example, one member’s exports to a trading partner should in theory equal the latter’s corresponding measure of imports. However, for a variety of reasons, this rarely occurs in practice. Discrepancies in trade and investment data between APEC members, when unresolved, may lead to incorrect analyses of economic conditions and inappropriate policy and commercial responses. As an initial step, the project has attempted to standardise merchandise trade so that partner country data are near-comparable (some differences remain due to insufficient data in APEC economies to make the necessary adjustments). Services and international investment data have proved more problematic as many members do not have comprehensive statistics in this area. A focus has therefore developed on sharing experiences to improve data collection in these areas.
18.23 Bilateral comparisons can also be used to improve the quality of a country’s balance of payments data. Australia has already carried out bilateral comparisons of merchandise trade data with the United States, Japan and New Zealand and is working on a comparison with Indonesia. So far these studies have shown Australian data to be of a high standard and to not require methodological change. However, some data comparisons have led to countries using another country’s bilateral data rather than redevelop an existing methodology, if the data compilation methods of the latter are superior to a country’s own. As well as improving the quality of data, the use of bilateral data saves resources and, with increasing interest in bilateral data comparisons through APEC projects such as the Trade and Investment Data Review, bilateral data may be more widely used in the future. Currently, some APEC countries use Australian data on education-related travel credits to measure their debits component.
Co-ordinated Portfolio Investment Survey
18.24 The IMF Committee on Balance of Payments Statistics has been co-ordinating arrangements, primarily among the major industrial countries, for the conduct of the Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey, comprising coordinated national surveys of cross-border portfolio investment assets (and where feasible, liabilities) in respect of 31 December 1997. The objectives of the survey were:
18.25 Over thirty countries, including Australia, are participating in this project, and results are expected to be published by the IMF in late 1999.