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More comprehensive services export data soon

Date 26-March-2014
Subject More comprehensive services export data soon

NEW DELHI : Services export data for key sectors will soon be more comprehensive and reliable.

The Commerce Ministry, with the help of the Central Statistical Organisation and the Department of Revenue, has initiated a survey-based exercise to collect data directly from service providers in select sectors.

Two pilot surveys – one on the health sector and the other on education – have already kicked off and the export figures for 2013-14 are expected by the year-end, Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said.

The data will supplement the services export figures churned out by the RBI in its Balance of Payments (BoP) statistics which are inadequate as they cover just seven broad sectors (as opposed to 12 sectors and 171 sub-sectors covered for goods exports) and are based only on banking transactions.

The surveys, being supervised by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, will then be expanded to seven-eight other sectors that the Government considers important such as tourism, IT, telecom, entertainment, and business services and ultimately be institutionalised.

“When the survey-based data collection system is in place, we will get export data for focus sectors through this methodology, while overall data will come from BoP statistics,” Kher said.

Lack of comprehensive data is a major handicap while negotiating free trade agreements and also in domestic policymaking as the strengths and weaknesses of the services sector at the disaggregated level are largely unknown.

“In services, no physical movement of goods take place. There are no shipping bills, like in the case of goods, which give you the final figure. Here it is all through bank transactions. And every bank transaction doesn't get picked up. Survey-based data collection helps fill the gap and data can be collected at the disaggregated level,” Kher said.

Services exports from India have jumped from $8.9 billion in 1997 to $143.5 billion in the previous fiscal. Its share in the world market has also expanded from 1 per cent in 2000 to about 3.5 per cent now.

There is, however, a huge opportunity to increase exports as almost 80 per cent of services exports from the country is in the IT/ITES sector and most of it is exported to just a few markets including the US and the UK.

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