The International Trade in Services Survey (ITSS) is a quarterly sample survey of companies and other entities resident in Spain, whose main objective is to estimate the value of exports and imports of non-tourist services of the Spanish economy with a view to their integration, by the Bank of Spain, under the item "Other services" of the balance of payments, and by the INE itself, in the national accounts of the Spanish economy.
In addition and on an annual basis, its objectives are to characterise companies that engage in international trade in services with respect to those limited to the domestic market, as well as to serve as an instrument for assessing trade policy and multilateral negotiations on trade in services derived from the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Likewise, the ITSS survey has served as the basis for the elaboration of the Foreign Trade in Services Indices (FTSI) that the INE has disseminated quarterly between the years 2008-2014. The objective of the FTSI was to provide indicators of the short-term evolution of the value of exports and imports of non-tourist services from a panel of companies from the ITSS sample selected in the base year 2007. The FTSI have been replaced by information in gross levels of the ITSS from 2015 onwards, once the ITSS data have become the main input of the balance of payments for services.
Quarterly ITSS data are broken down by type of operation (exports and imports), by type of main service (manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others, maintenance and repair, transport, construction, insurance and pensions [premiums], financial services, telecommunications, information technology, intellectual property, business services [divided into three categories], personal, cultural and recreational services, and government goods and services) and by counterpart country or geographical area.
Annual ITSS data are presented for the same variables as quarterly data but at higher levels of disaggregation by type of service and geography, and also by other variables that serve to characterise companies (main activity, size, belonging to a foreign group) and operations (mode of supply or receipt of the service).
For services it covers all those included in the Extended Balance of Payments Services Classification (EBOPS) except the Travel (Tourism) item. 62 types of non-tourist services are covered, although information is only disseminated for the 14 main service items of EBOPS on a quarterly basis, with greater disaggregation on an annual basis.
For countries and geographical areas, it covers all those included in the updates of the Eurostat Balance of Payments Vademecum which are all the countries in the world existing at any given time, although only information on 19 countries and geographical areas is disseminated at a quarterly level, with greater disaggregation at an annual level.
The statistical unit corresponds to units resident in Spain (companies and other entities) susceptible of carrying out international trade in services transactions (exports or imports of services) with non-resident units.
Given that the purpose of the ITSS is to study the phenomenon of international trade in services or "trade of services with non-residents", as well as to investigate other international operations included in the questionnaire, and it is not certain a priori which units are going to carry out this type of activities, the population universe will be referred to the group of entities (companies or other institutions) that have the condition of residents in Spain, including Spanish embassies and consulates in the rest of the world.
In order to limit this large population to the phenomena under study, the INE and the Bank of Spain (BE) agreed on a series of new statistical frameworks from 2013 onwards, albeit mostly derived from the so-called Register of Declarants of Foreign Payments and Collections of the BE (or Cash Register). These declarations are provided to the BE by Payment Service Providers (PSPs) officially registered, based on the declarations on collections and payments of their resident clients. The reason is that for these declarants there is absolute certainty, at least until 2014 (year of expiry of said registration in terms of the nature of the operation generating the international payment), that they have made foreign collections and payments exceeding 50,000 EUR for service operations. This is intended to reduce to the maximum the number of respondents in the sample who can say in the questionnaire that they do not perform these operations (with previous populations this number was important). The populations considered are:
1. A population called stable, formed by declarants who in the last three years have been regularly declaring foreign payments and collections for services operations, and in a significant volume (covering 90% of total collections and payments of the items), plus the group of Spanish embassies and consulates. This population comes from the so-called System of Declarations of Foreign Payments and Collections of the BE (Cash Register). In this population of the BE two strata are distinguished:
a. Stratum 1: The stable declarants who cover 80% of the total collections and payments in the items under study. They are comprehensively investigated.
b. Stratum 2: Rest of stable declarants. They are investigated by sampling.
2. Stratum 3: A population called non-stable, which will be composed of both the non-stable units with respect to the phenomenon of study (services), as well as the rest of BE declarants for foreign collections and payments of any item of the Balance of Payments other than those of the scope of study. These are investigated by sampling.
3. Stratum 4: Payment Service Providers (PSPs), which are officially registered banks, savings banks, credit institutions and other financial intermediaries, which inform the BE through the cash system of their customers' foreign collections and payments transactions, but which are not obliged to report transactions on their own account. Their own-account transactions are thoroughly investigated.
4. Stratum 5: Population of INTRASTAT/EXTRASTAT declarants (foreign trade statistics of goods for operators resident in the EU carried out by Customs) who carry out dispatches and arrivals of goods to be processed or processed and to be repaired or repaired. The introduction of the new processing and repairing services in the Extended Balance of Payments Services Classification (EBOPS 2010), made it necessary to find a population of declarants for these services. Although the customs information does not allow to value the service, because it only considers the value of the goods before and after being processed or repaired, it does allow to identify the operators who ship/receive goods to/from abroad to process or repair or already processed or repaired, to ask them in the questionnaire for the value of the service. Very few companies cover 80% of the value of these flows of goods both in processing and in repair. Due to this great concentration, all those that cover up to this percentage are comprehensively investigated.
Once the strata 4 and 5 have been separated with respect to strata 1, 2 and 3, which are separated by construction, the aim is to have a quarterly sample of between 7,500-9,000 total units (compared to 10,000 in previous years with the old sample design).
It can be verified that the INE Central Business Register (CBR) by itself does not configure a statistical framework in the new sample design as it occurred until 2012, and its main task is to characterise the companies of the different populations by main economic activity and size interval, which will allow sub-stratifying by these two variables each stratum and thus selecting a representative sample in those non-comprehensive strata.
In terms of population exclusions, all units that are non-resident from a statistical point of view (their centre of economic interest is outside Spain) are discarded, regardless of whether they are non-resident from a tax point of view. There are units with non-resident NIF from a tax point of view but which have a permanent establishment in Spain and which, therefore, for statistical purposes, are resident and hence surveyable. Also out of the scope are natural persons even though they are resident in Spain due to their scarce influence in the international trade of services. Likewise, embassies, consulates, military bases and other foreign governmental bodies, as well as international bodies located in Spain, are excluded from the population scope because they are considered non-residents.
On the other hand, according to the legal establishment of a declaration threshold of exemption on the BE's Register of Declarants of Foreign Payments and Collections (or Cash Register) that came into force in 2008, it does not include, at least for strata 1, 2 and 3, those declarants whose payments or collections with non-residents in the reference year of the register are ALL less than or equal to 50,000 EUR.
All statistical units residing in the Spanish territory that are within the scope of the population are subject to research.
The first reference quarter published for ITSS data on exports and imports at gross levels is the first quarter of 2014. The first published reference year is 2014.
The FTSI indices in base 2007 were published from the first quarter of 2008 and were discontinued with reference to the fourth quarter of 2014.
The ITSS, when estimating gross levels, has no base period.
In the case of FTSI published between 2008 and 2014. The initial base year for FTSI was 2007. The index of the first quarter of 2008 was the first to be published with base 2007.
The base year was also the year for which the index weights were calculated. In the case of the FTSI, the weights were calculated from the 2007 annual information provided by the ITSS that investigated more than 10,600 statistical units. From these 10,600 units, it was selected a nucleus of 9,830 companies (FTSI sample) with a valid response in 2007, either with real or imputed data, from which the weights and indices were constructed.
Exports and imports: millions of euros (levels) and % (rates)
The reference period is the calendar quarter.
Data referred to the period: Trimestral A: 2019 TRI: II
The compilation and dissemination of the data are governed by the Statistical Law No. 12/1989 "Public Statistical Function" of May 9, 1989, and Law No. 4/1990 of June 29 on “National Budget of State for the year 1990" amended by Law No. 13/1996 "Fiscal, administrative and social measures" of December 30, 1996, makes compulsory all statistics included in the National Statistics Plan. The National Statistical Plan 2009-2012 was approved by the Royal Decree 1663/2008. It contains the statistics that must be developed in the four year period by the State General Administration's services or any other entity dependent on it. All statistics included in the National Statistics Plan are statistics for state purposes and are obligatory. The National Statistics Plan 2017-2020, approved by Royal Decree 410/2016, of 31 October, is the Plan currently implemented. This statistical operation has governmental purposes, and it is included in the National Statistics Plan 2017-2020. (Statistics of the State Administration).
The data obtained from the ITS survey will be used in the compilation of the Balance of Payments and National Accounts statistics of the Spanish economy, in compliance with Regulation (EU) No. 555/2012 of the European Commission of 22 June 2012, amending Regulation (EC) No. 184/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council on Community statistics on the Balance of Payments, International Trade in Services and Foreign Direct Investment
Regarding the preparation of the population frameworks of the ITS survey, information is collected from the Bank of Spain (Balance of Payments Division) and the AEAT (Customs and II.EE. Dept). Likewise, the INE sends the information from the ITS survey to the Bank of Spain in order that this body includes it in the "Other Services" section of the Balance of Payments.
Under no circumstances are users provided with data identifying the companies collaborating in the ITS survey, and in addition, any tailor-made statistical exploitation always preserves statistical secrecy in accordance with INE confidentiality standards. The only exception occurs when there are institutional agreements of information exchange with other government bodies with statistical competence exclusively for statistical use or promotion of public trade policies linked to export.
The frequency of dissemination of the ITSS is quarterly and annual.
The frequency of dissemination of the FTSI was quarterly during its seven years of publication (2008-2014).
The results of the ITSS are disseminated through the INE website at:
The results of the FTSI were disseminated through the INE website and some results are collected in publications such as the Statistical Yearbook, INE Figures, etc.
INEbase is the system the INE uses to store statistical information on the Internet. It contains all the information the INE produces in electronic formats. The primary organisation of the information follows the theme-based classification of the Inventory of Statistical Operations of the State General Administration . The basic unit of INEbase is the statistical operation, defined as the set of activities that lead to obtaining statistical results on a determined sector or subject based on the individually collected data. Also included in the scope of this definition are synthesis preparation.
Number of data web queries by users (2018): AC1=1,102
No direct access is provided to the microdata of the ITS survey, nor to those of the FTSI on the web, in line with the INE micro-data dissemination policy on company surveys.
In this link appears a general methodology of the ITSS:
In this link you will find the ITSS questionnaire and its explanatory annex of services items:
In this link appears a general methodology of the FTSI:
This standardised methodological report contains all the elements (points 10.6 to 17) of what is considered a "user-oriented quality report" for this operation.
Quality assurance framework for the INE statistics is based on the ESSCoP, the European Statistics Code of Practice made by EUROSTAT. The ESSCoP is made up of 16 principles, gathered in three areas: Institutional Environment, Processes and Products. Each principle is associated with some indicators which make possible to measure it. In order to evaluate quality, EUROSTAT provides different tools: the indicators mentioned above, Self-assessment based on the DESAP model, peer review, user satisfaction surveys and other proceedings for evaluation.
This statistic follows the Statistics Code of Practices and has an established data review policy each quarter. All phases of the statistical process of the ITS survey and the FTSI are subject to controls to ensure the quality of these statistical operations. The cleaning phases are exhaustive, implementing algorithms for the detection of completeness and statistical consistency errors in all the collection and recording tools. The phases of imputation and elevation of the sample information are governed by scientific principles of the theory of sampling in finite populations.
Among the strengths of the ITS survey and the FTSI, there is a continuous evaluation of the quality of the data disseminated and transmitted, establishing contrasts of information with the respondents and with the information collected by the Bank of Spain through the records provided by the Payment Services Providers (PSP), where it is possible to make homogeneous comparisons. The main weakness is that the population of resident companies engaged in international trade in services each quarter is a priori unknown.
The main users of the ITS survey are institutional:
-Bank of Spain (for the purpose of estimating the item Other Services of the Balance of Payments of the Spanish economy).
-INE, National Accounts Department (preparation of the Rest of the World Account of the Spanish National Accounts)
-Ministries (Ministry of Economy and Business, etc.), and other bodies (ICEX, RED.es, Chambers of Commerce, etc.) especially in the field of multilateral trade negotiations with the EU and other international bodies, as well as in the case of bilateral negotiations. The information is also used for the promotion of public policies to support the internationalisation of Spanish companies.
The specific needs of the users are taken into account whenever methodological revisions are carried out, in order to adapt the content of the operation to the requirements of the users.
The INE has carried out general user satisfaction surveys in 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 and it plans to continue doing so every three years. The purpose of these surveys is to find out what users think about the quality of the information of the INE statistics and the extent to which their needs of information are covered. In addition, additional surveys are carried out in order to acknowledge better other fields such as dissemination of the information, quality of some publications...
On the INE website, in its section Methods and Projects / Quality and Code of Practice / INE quality management / User surveys are available surveys conducted to date.(Click next link)
The ITS survey has been designed jointly with the Bank of Spain and satisfies its information needs as the main user.
The ITS survey comprehensively collects all non-tourist services and with the periodicity necessary to satisfy the needs of the Bank of Spain in compliance with the European Regulations on International Trade in Services and Balance of Payments statistics. R1. Ratio of available European statistics = 100% . All requested results are provided.
The sample design attempts to minimise sampling errors; the different processes of the survey are aimed at eliminating or reducing, as far as possible, non-sampling errors, both in the collection phase (response rate and cleaning control) and in the subsequent editing and imputation phases.
The collection process, coverage control, cleaning of errors and imputation of non-response allows us to obtain a high degree of reliability of the statistics.
Sampling errors (coefficient of variation or relative standard error) are calculated for the main variables, imports and exports of services, by country and by type of service.
Sampling error Imports (2018): A1=1.41%
|CV intervals (in %)||Data qualification|
|5.0%-9.99%||B: Very good|
|25.0%-34.99%||E: Use with caution|
|35.0% and above...||F: Unreliable data|
Non-sampling errors are minimised at each stage of the statistical process. In general, ITS questionnaires in all formats (paper, electronic or web) are designed with an explanatory annex to limit as much as possible errors on the part of respondents. In the case of recorders and cleaners, controls are established that do not allow recording a questionnaire that does not pass these controls or warnings appear on the screen and even provide information on the types of services traded by these units in the past according to historical information of the Bank of Spain, in order to limit recording errors and lack of consistency. They are also given ranges of temporal variation of exports and imports based on historical information.
The processes of imputation of non-response use historical information of the unit that does not answer, as long as it is available, and in its absence, the average of the companies related to it that have answered. In addition, there is a range of solutions for the treatment of field incidents arising from closures, mergers, divisions, unreachable, etc. of the companies surveyed so that the final process of elevation and estimation is not affected.
Overcoverage rate (2018), A2= 2.20%
Proportion of common units (2018), A3= N.A
Non-response rate per unit (2018), A4= 4.48%
Non-response rate per item (2018), A5= N.A
Imputation rate (2018), A7= 1.93%
Data delivery to Banco de España, as a main user of the ITSS data, were jointly agreed in order to Banco de España can make due checks before Balance of Payments national data dissemination and its subsequent delivery to international involved bodies (European Central Bank, Eurostat, IMF, etc.), according to Regulations, Directives, European guidelines, etc.
Quarterly timeliness: TP1= 80-85 days; TP2= 170-175 days (unless a non-systematic major revision takes place)
Yearly timeliness: TP1=TP2= 9-10 months
TP3. Timeliness: The dissemination of the quarterly/annual ITSS is carried out in accordance with the short-termr/structural statistics availability calendar that the INE prepares and publishes for each year.
It is a national survey and therefore not designed to provide regional information.
The use of international and European definitions and classifications contained in the commonly accepted international manuals on international trade in services and balance of payments, allows geographical comparability not only at European but also at international level.
CC2. Length of comparable time series: The quarterly ITSS has no break in its time series since the beginning of its publication referring to the first quarter of 2015. Neither does the annual ITSS and its number of elements is 4.
The FTSI published by the INE until 2014 have no breaks in their time series since the beginning of their preparation in the first quarter of 2008 and therefore the indices are comparable over time. Thus, the number of comparable elements of the 2008-2014 series are all the FTSI published each quarter in these years since the 1st quarter of 2008. Number of elements of the time series: 28
The INE has not disseminated on its website data on levels of exports and imports of services from the ITS survey, prior to the reference period of the first quarter of 2015. Between 2008-2014 it has been publishing the FTSI indices. As of the publication of the 1st quarter of 2015, the INE has begun to publish gross levels (retroactively including 2014), as the Bank of Spain has been integrating the ITS data in the Other Services item of the Spanish Balance of Payments since 2014. Previously, the Bank of Spain estimated this item from its register of Declarations of Foreign Payments and Collections.
The INE ITS survey was created at the request of the Bank of Spain in order to help in estimating the Other Services item in the balance of payments.
The information provided by the ITSS is complementary to that published quarterly by the Bank of Spain in its Balance of Payments statistics referring to the exchange of this type of services. As of 2015, the data in levels of the ITS survey and the balance of payments are absolutely coherent, and the differences may be due to various adjustments made by the Bank of Spain on the ITSS data to prepare the balance of payments for services. The adjustments, which are duly documented, are used to convert the basic data of companies collected by the ITSS to the macroeconomic summary data required for the balance of payments.
There is no problem of internal coherence in the data of the ITS survey or the FTSI.
The estimated budget appropriation necessary to finance this survey foreseen in the 2019 Annual Programme is 605,82 thousand euros.
In order to reduce the collection costs, a new, more efficient sample design was elaborated in 2013 that allows reducing the sample size of the ITS survey without affecting the results. Likewise, the new INE data collection web platform (IRIA) allows for a reduction in the time spent by respondents completing the questionnaire, as it will establish filters in the information that will avoid having to search for information outside of the itineraries marked by the respondent.
The INE of Spain has a policy which regulates the basic aspects of statistical data revision, seeking to ensure process transparency and product quality. This policy is laid out in the document approved by the INE board of directors on 13 March of 2015, which is available on the INE website, in the section "Methods and projects/Quality and Code of Practice/INE’s Quality management/INE’s Revision policy" (link).
This general policy sets the criteria that the different type of revisions should follow: routine revision- it is the case of statistics whose production process includes regular revisions-; more extensive revision- when methodological or basic reference source changes take place-; and exceptional revision- for instance, when an error appears in a published statistic-.
The provisional data of the ITS survey for a specific quarter (t) disseminated on the INE website are systematically revised with the delayed or updated information corresponding to the quarter (t) that is collected in the following quarter (t+1). However, the data remain provisional for two years until they become final. During this time they may be subject to various revisions, both routinary and non-systematic, by contrast with other sources or due to errors in the declarations.
In the case of the provisional annual ITS survey data for a given year (A), these remain provisional until the four quarters of that year A become final. Therefore, the annual data are revised via the revisions of the quarters of said year A, and become final in A+2 years.
The indicators A6. MAR, RMAR and MR (calculated from data of the four quarters) take the following values:
The ITS survey is a sample survey. The technique is that of stratified random sampling on two of the five population strata mentioned in section 3.6, Statistical population. The other three are studied comprehensively. The two stratification variables are the main economic activity and the size of the statistical unit measured in number of employees. According to the new sample design carried out in 2013, the ITSS sample is between 7,500-8,500 units per quarter, very far from the 10,500 units of the old design.
More information on the population scope and the sampling plan and sample design of the ITSS can be found in the General Methodology section of the following link:
The FTSI sample was made up of a panel of 9,800 statistical units established in 2007 (base year of the indices) that were surveyed each quarter, coming from the ITSS 2007 sample that in that year was about 10,500 units. The administrative registers from the Bank of Spain and the AEAT from which the population frames were selected were used only for the purpose of identifying the potentially reporting population of international services operations.
More information on the population scope and the FTSI sampling plan and sample design can be found in the General Methodology section of the following link:
The ITS survey collects data on a quarterly basis
In order to facilitate the response of the respondent, there are different formats of ITS survey questionnaires (paper, electronic in the form of Excel macro and web). The respondent can choose the format that best suits their needs and transmit the information by ordinary mail, fax, e-mail or through the INE web platform for collecting economic data (IRIA). The access to IRIA is done through: https://iria.ine.es
We try to minimise the non-response through telephone or e-mail contact with the respondents and once the submission deadline has expired through the sanctioning procedure. If the questionnaire is not received in a given quarter, its information is imputed on the basis of the latest data of the unit that does not respond by updating it with the information of the units in its stratum that did respond in the reference quarter. If there is no historical information, it is imputed by the average of the units belonging to its stratum that did respond.
The INE's own collection and recording application for the ITS survey makes it possible to implement validation rules for the information contained in the questionnaires. These rules are divided into serious and weak errors. The first are usually basic errors of completeness and consistency, which do not allow recording the questionnaire and require the recorders to contact the statistical unit. The weak ones are controls that have to do more with the statistical coherence of the information (that there are no atypical data, etc.) and although they allow to continue with the recording of the questionnaire they send a warning message. In the case of the electronic questionnaire, it is the questionnaire itself that implements these validation rules, so that it is the respondent himself who corrects the error in the event of a mistake.
Also, in a second phase of cleaning and validation there are rules for controlling variation ranges in exports and imports declared by respondents who report in the event that these quarterly and annual variations are outside the established ranges. This control is prioritised for the most important statistical units in terms of exported or imported value, since by their weight they have a greater influence on the totals.
Once the processes of cleaning-validation and imputation of the missing information have been completed, which have already been described in other sections, the sample results are elevated to obtain the aggregate results. For this purpose, each statistical unit that has a theoretical elevation factor assigned a priori from the sample design must adjust said factor each quarter to a real factor as a consequence of field incidents (temporary and definitive closures, mergers, acquisitions, divisions, refusals, unreachable, non-response, frame errors, etc.). This factor is calculated as a quotient between the population statistical units in each stratum divided by the sample statistical units of each stratum from which a valid response has been obtained in the reference quarter. A reweighting process is carried out each quarter of the factors or weights assigned to each sample unit according to the field incidents as described above and to the valid response obtained.
These elevation factors attempt to reflect the number of population units that the sample units represent. The final estimators of exports or imports of services are obtained by making the weighted sum of the sample values of each statistical unit of the sample by its real factor.
Seasonal adjustment processes are not carried out.