balance of payments
The National Bank of Belgium (NBB) started implementing a new data collection system in 2006. It is no longer a settlement-based international transaction reporting system (ITRS). Rather, the new system is based on a combination of different surveys conducted by the NBB covering trade in services, foreign direct investment (FDI), other investment and portfolio investment. The data provided by these surveys are supplemented by foreign trade in goods statistics and data from a variety of external sources.
Since the beginning of 2007, the External Statistics Unit produces the Belgian balance of payments (BOP) completely with the new system. The collection system in use since January 2007 to report statistical data for the full balance of payments, is of a matrix type, based on a combination of different surveys on the financial and non-financial sectors and on external sources.
(a) Goods: the data collection system is based on the foreign trade in goods data collection.
These data are completed with some ad hoc surveys on specific transactions in goods organised in the frame of the balance of payments system on the basis of a cut-off approach or a sampling approach depending on the topic covered.
(b) Services: for this b.o.p. component, the External Statistics Unit organises different surveys. The system is a mixture of cut-off and sampling techniques for the non-financial sector.
The system is made up of two main subsystems:
(i) a full survey of the major enterprises (monthly); and
(ii) a set of specific surveys for the other enterprises (monthly and/or quarterly).
For the financial sector, different surveys are defined, each covering a specific subsector (e.g. monetary financial institutions (MFI's), insurance companies, collective investment institutions, etc.), and are mostly addressed to the full population of these sub-sectors.
(c) Travel: the NBB uses the results of two surveys organised by the National Statistic Institute (NSI) regarding stays in Belgium and the expenditure of Belgian tourists abroad.
These data are combined with data from two specific surveys organised by the NBB covering credit/payment card companies and tour operators.
(d) Transfers: administrative sources are used; these need to be supplemented with data from ad hoc external sources and estimates.
(e) Investment income and financial account:
The collection system is sub-divided according to:
- the domain covered (functional classification); and
- the group of respondents concerned (mostly sub-sectors).
As a result, the surveys are broken down into three main categories:
- foreign direct investment;
- other investment (including derivatives); and
- portfolio investment and securities.
The first two categories of surveys use cutoff techniques and cover both flows (gross transactions) and positions in financial assets and liabilities broken down by instrument, currency and country. The related income is also covered by the respective surveys (dividends declared, dividends paid and received, interest accrued, interest paid and received, etc.), as well as profit and loss accounts.
The third category of survey gathers data related to securities. It covers the holdings, issues and short positions of residents, as well as the custodian activities of residents. The data only concern positions and are reported on a security-by-security basis with ISIN codes (or some other agreed identification codes).
The External Statistics Unit derives the flows from the reported positions, as well as the valuation changes due to fluctuations in prices and exchange rates.
Concerning the MFI sector, the data related to other investment and direct investment are provided by the data collection system defined for supervision and money and banking statistics, extended for the needs of BOP. The External Statistics Unit addresses only a yearly detailed survey directly to the MFI's for foreign direct investment, while the survey on securities is organised monthly by this Unit on its own behalf and on behalf of the supervisory authorities.
The frequency of the different surveys may vary according to the activities covered or the group of enterprises concerned, or both, and, as a result, may be monthly, quarterly or yearly.
(f) Trade credits: a monthly survey is addressed to a sample of enterprises reporting transactions in goods.
(g) Other sources: besides organising its own surveys, the NBB is authorised to require all necessary information from any public agency if the information available fulfils its needs and the public agency is obliged to deliver the data. The NBB is also entitled to agree upon a similar process with any representative association so that the NBB has not to implement a data collection procedure for data available elsewhere, preventing in that way the enterprises to report the same data twice. Administrative sources are also used, e.g. the social security agency provides data on labour income.
For all surveys, the most significant enterprises have to report flows or positions on a monthly basis.
Extrapolation methods are used for the sampled populations and non-response techniques are applied when necessary.
FDI surveys are used to comply with several obligations, i.e. those of the balance of payments, international investment position, foreign affiliates trade in services (FATS) and direct investments statistics.
Data are collected using a set of integrated surveys. The main survey deals with direct investment entities. Based on the identification of individual entities and on the existing percentage of ownership between these entities, the direct investment entities are automatically selected following a predefined algorithm. The selected entities are all non-resident subsidiaries, associates and branches owned directly or indirectly by the reporting enterprise, as well as the direct and indirect non-resident shareholders.
The non-resident companies related to the respondent not having an equity participation or having an equity participation of less than 10% are also selected.
Additional data, e.g. sector of activity, quoted or unquoted, are also gathered in the main survey. This information is used to calculate equity capital at book value for quoted enterprises.
The other direct investment surveys are along the same lines as the main survey:
- FDI flow survey: for equity capital, other capital and direct investment income;
- FDI position survey: for equity capital and other capital;
- FDI profit and loss survey: for reinvested earnings; and
- FATS survey.
The selected resident entities are obliged to report the data. The geographical breakdown is based on the residency of the individual direct investment entities or direct investors identified abroad.
The frequency of surveys on investment relationships and on FDI flows is monthly or yearly. The survey on positions is quarterly or yearly. The profit and loss and FATS surveys are yearly.
The data collection system does not record equity capital on a security-by-security basis. Concerning this component, both cash and noncash transactions are recorded.
The other instruments covered by the surveys are:
- loans (very short-term, short-term, long-term);
- deposits (very short-term, short-term, long-term);
- inter-company bank accounts;
- interest (accrued, paid, received);
- dividends (allocated, paid, received);
- short and long-term debt instruments; and
- trade credits.
The instruments required are also sector dependent.
Each survey item is precisely formulated and defined as a claim or liability (credit/debit).
The institutional sector breakdown and a detailed industry breakdown for both resident and non-resident enterprises are possible using the information collected.
All data have to be reported in the original currency so that the exchange rate variation and the stock variation can be calculated separately. When reported, real estate data are broken down by currency and country and not by direct investment entity.
The following groups of enterprises are covered exhaustively by the direct investment surveys: credit institutions, insurance companies and investment firms. Concerning the non-financial sector, the reporting companies are selected on a cut-off basis.
1. SHS - Securities Holding Statistics: new statistical category and a modified data collection system
On 17 October 2012, the Governing Council of the ECB approved a Regulation (Regulation (EU) 1011/2012) establishing the reference framework for ensuring the collection on basic data needed for producing detailed statistics on holdings of securities (Securities Holding Statistics or SHS).
The compilation of such statistics aims to fill in the information gaps noticed during the financial crisis of 2007-2008, not only by the monetary policy authorities but also by those in charge of prudential supervision of the banking and finance sector and financial markets. The shortcomings mainly concerned information on risk exposures among financial sector stakeholders, and in particular large multinational groups, as well as their cross-border liabilities, mainly in the form of securities.
The information will be collected across all economic sectors and on a security-by-security basis. The data will be gathered either directly for some financial sub-sectors, or indirectly for the remaining sectors. The information gathered will concern exclusively the positions held in securities.
The direct method consists of gathering information from entities in the sub-sectors concerned on their own assets they hold in the form of securities, while the indirect way involves requesting custodians to provide the same information for deposits made with them. In addition, the Regulation also lays down arrangements for collecting data on securities holdings by the big banking groups. The practical arrangements of these different collection procedures are specified in the aforementioned Regulation.
During the definition of the new system and the drafting of the legislation, it was stressed that it was essential to limit any increase in the reporting burden on declarants by making full use of existing data collection systems.
So, it was more a question of determining the most suitable legal framework for an amendment ensuring that this data collection is arranged. Since security-by-security information collection is already used in Belgium as part of the data gathering necessary for establishing the balance of payments and the international investment position, a task entrusted to the Bank, it is the relevant legal framework that will be amended if necessary.
The first data-collecting exercise among reporting parties, in the new format, will refer to the situation at the end of December 2013 and will be organised during the first quarter of 2014.
The Bank held an information session about this adjusted data collection scheme on 18 December 2012 and has issued details of the changes that will be made to the current collection of statistical information.
In order to ensure the broadest spreading of the information, the Bank deemed it useful to post on its website the presentations made available during this information session as well as the text of the ECB Regulation.
2. Available documentation