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Balance of payments methodology of United Kingdom

170 pages
Monetary policy
Economy and finance
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1983 eurostat
L-2920 Luxembourg — Tél. 43011 — Télex: Comeur Lu 3423
B-1049 Bruxelles, Bâtiment Berlaymont, Rue de la Loi 200 (Bureau de liaison) — Tél. 235 1111
This publication is obtainable from the sales offices mentioned on the inside back cover.
Pour obtenir cette publication, prière de s'adresser aux bureaux de vente dont les adresses sont indi­
quées à la page 3 de la couverture. BALANCE OF PAYMENTS METHODOLOGY
Manuscript completed in May 1983
Manuscrit terminé en mai 1983 Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication
Une fiche bibliographique figure à la fin de l'ouvrage
Luxembourg: Office des publications officielles des Communautés européennes, 1983
ISBN 92-825-3419-7
Cat.: CA-35-82-481-2A-C
Reproduction of the contents is subject to acknowledgement of the source
La reproduction des données est subordonnée à l'indication de la source
Printed in Belgium Foreword
This report sets out the principles, definitions and
methods of estimations used in drawing up the Uni­
ted Kingdom balance of payments. It was prepared
by Mr John Alves in cooperation with the Statistical
Office of the European Communities and has been
approved by the United Kingdom authorities respon­
sible for the balance of payments. Table of contents
Introduction 7 Chapter III — Capital account:
definition and contents of the head­
0.1 Brief historical background 7 ings in the UK presentation 35
0.2 Description of the legal basis....
Chapter IV — Analytic presentations 0.3 General description of the UK
used in the United Kingdom 43
system of information 8
0.4 Description of publications and
Chapter V — Geographical break­
data service 9
down 45
Chapter I — Conceptual framework
Chapter VI — Comparison with the of UK balance of payments com­
external transactions in the United pared with that recommended by the
Kingdom's system of national ac­IMF 11
1.1 Definition of resident of the
Annexes 51
1.2 Valuation
Annex 1: The balance of payments
1.3 Time of recording 1of the United Kingdom, 1980 (nation­
1.3.1 Merchandiseal presentation)2
1.3.2 Other than merchan­
Annex 2: Correspondence between dise 12
United Kingdom headings and IMF
1.4 Unit of account and procedures headings: figures for 1980 61
for conversion
Annex 3: Adjustment of UK trade
1.5 Structure of the accounts 1
statistics (1980) to a balance of pay­
ments basis 69
Chapter II — Current account: defini­
tion and contents of the headings in Annex 4: Glossary of coverage of
the UK presentation 17 headings in the UK presentation 70 Introduction
0.1 Brief historical background banking flows on questionnaires or re­
turns, some dating from around 1930,
Before 1939 the UK balance of payments completed by all banks in the United King­
was measured by incomplete statistics, of
dom—mostly independently of exchange
which the most important and reliable were
control. At first a simple return of short-
those for overseas trade, and official capi­
term assets and liabilities held abroad, the
tal transactions and changes in reserves.
banking returns have progressively given
Less was known about current invisible
greater and greater detail and a wider
transactions or about private capital flows. coverage over their 50 years of existence.
Thus only an incomplete balance of pay­
0.2 Description of the legal basis ments was put together. The data may be
found in a publication of the League of Na­
Almost all of the data required for the tions, Balance of Payments, issued annu­
compilation of the UK balance of payments
ally between 1931 and 1939 (and finally in
are obtained without compulsory powers
1946), and two studies in the Bank of Eng­
that could be applied to the various entities
land Quarterly Bulletin (September 1972
that make the necessary reports to the
and March 1974) examine the figures av­
compiling authorities.
ailable. They are scarcely comparable with
the balance of payments figures published Overseas trade statistics are the only ma­
after 1945. jor statistical series collected with the aid
of legal compulsion, and they are a by­
After 1939 the balance of payments be­ product of the importers' and exporters'
came a major concern of economic policy legal obligation to declare to the customs
in the United Kingdom. With the imposition the value of the goods that they are bring­
of exchange control much more came to ing into or sending out of the country.
be known about the UK balance of pay­
Commercial banks provide the Bank of ments, although at first the data were for
England with a wide range of data on ex­the confidential use of the Government
ternal assets and liabilities, comprising the and the Bank of England, the latter having
external components of their balance the responsibility both for administering ex­
sheets and also some custody holdings for change control and for compiling the ba­
customers. They provide, too, some infor­lance of payments, not only for the United
mation about transactions flows, but this Kingdom but also for the whole of the
type of information comes much less readi­sterling area (with the non-sterling area).
ly from their accounting systems. All of this
The post-war statistics of the balance of information has come to be provided as a
payments were made generally available, result of negotiation between the Bank of
being published both in national offical England and the commercial banks in a
publications and the Balance of Payments spirit of voluntary cooperation (although a
Statistics Yearbook of the IMF. At first they relatively small part was collected under
were heavily dependent on exchange-con­ statutory powers during the period of ex­
trol statistics. Over the past 30 years, how­ change controls). In seeking this coopera­
ever, exchange-control sources have been tion, the Bank no doubt draws some ad­
replaced by direct surveys of transactors. vantage from the existence, in the back­
Today, with exchange control abolished, ground, of certain powers of direction gi­
the balance of payments is compiled en­ ven in the Bank of England Act, 1946.
tirely by direct estimation of the various These powers have never been used, so
components. Unchanged throughout has their use now would be a matter of consid­
been the basing of merchandise estimates erable gravity. However, the Bank believes
on the overseas trade statistics (for which that it is able to obtain by negotiation all
exchange control sources were never the information that the banks can reason­
used) and the basing of estimates of ably be expected to provide. INTRODUCTION
The Statistics of Trade Act 1947 enables The United Kingdom balance of payments
government departments to collect com- estimates are based mainly on the direct
pulsorily certain information as listed in the collection of information from industry and
Schedule to the Act. Information on the net commerce, banks and other financial in­
asset value of the stock of UK outward di­ stitutions. These direct surveys of transac­
rect investment, excluding oil, banking and tors are designed not merely to record the
insurance, is collected compulsorily under value data required for the balance of pay­
the Act as is from 1982 the net asset val­ ments accounts but also to yield associ­
ue of inward direct investment in UK ated information required for policy pur­
branches, excluding oil, banking and insur­ poses e.g. numbers, length of stay,­
ance. The Act does not enable the net as­ pose of visit of tourists; routes covered,
set value of inward investment in UK com­ types of cargo and vessel, chartering, etc.,
panies or the annual flows of direct invest­ in shipping and so on. Often this informa­
ment and earnings to be collected compul­ tion can only be obtained from those di­
sorily. This is obtained by voluntary in­ rectly engaged in the transaction con­
quiries and a major revision would be cerned.
needed to the Schedule to enable this da­
ta to be collected compulsorily. Many diverse sources and methods are
employed in compiling the UK balance of
payments accounts. A lot of the data come The only other data collected compulsorily
from surveys which may be quarterly, an­under the Act are overseas transactions in
nual, quadrennial or take place even less film and television material. Data on insur­
frequently. In some cases the quarterly ance, shipping, civil aviation, oil, broker­
sample surveys only provide initial esti­age, and certain consultancy work are col­
mates in advance of the more comprehen­lected by trade organizations and quasi-
sive annual inquiries. Thus many series government bodies, and here the Act can­
are updated for several years after esti­not be used. Information on travel is ob­
mates first appear. tained by a sample survey of air and sea
passengers, and thisy is voluntary
In contrast to the United Kingdom ap­as the Act could not be enforced. Some
proach, many other countries obtain the data are obtained from administrative re­
main part of their balance of payments da­cords such as inward portfolio dividends
ta from a homogeneous or self-consistent and expenditure in the United Kingdom on
set of banking figures, since most transac­exploration for oil and natural gas. The re­
tions pass through a bank, which will then maining statistical series are obtained
deal with its correspondent bank, or cus­through voluntary inquiries. The response
tomer, abroad. A comprehensive record of to most of these inquiries is in general
this kind is not available in the United reasonably good and the use of compul­
Kingdom. sion would be unlikely to greatly improve
the few series for which it could be used.
Countries with an exchange record avail­The Government is also under pressure
able usually have considerable geographi­from the business community to reduce
cal detail readily at their disposal but are the number of statistical inquiries and the
unable to differentiate between transac­climate is thus not opportune for the intro­
tions with intermediaries and principals— duction of additional compulsory inquiries.
an important limitation in the context of
geographical analysis. The United King­
dom methodology, on the other hand, with
0.3 General description of the UK sys­ its reliance on direct collection of data from
tem of information transactors, does not lend itself to exten­
sive geographical analysis. Regular com­
The United Kingdom balance of payments prehensive surveys on a scale sufficient to
estimates follow so far as is practicable provide reasonably accurate country fig­
the recommendations of the fourth edition ures can only be used for certain activities.
of the IMF Manual. Any significant depar­ The population surveyed needs to form a
tures from the IMF Manual are described, coherent group—for example companies
passim, in Chapters II and III. with overseas affiliates, travellers,

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