Economy

Measuring the invisible – improving our understanding of UK trade in services

Exports of services have for many decades made a large and positive contribution to the UK’s international trade balance. But unlike goods, which are relatively easy to count and value, the intangibility of services means their measurement has been less detailed. Now, thanks to a big expansion in our statistical coverage, ONS is shedding unprecedented new light on the subject.

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The hardest part of productivity measurement

Productivity has been a topic of great interest in recent years, especially because of the well-known ‘productivity puzzle’ – the historically weak productivity growth in the UK since the economic downturn in 2008.

But if that is a puzzle, here is another one – how do you measure the productivity of public services, like education or healthcare, when they are provided for free? Since 2005, ONS has developed suitable measures for over half of public services, but there is still much to do. In this blog Josh Martin explains how the ONS measures the productivity of public services.

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Trading places: How ONS measures cross-border services

ONS has embarked on an ambitious development programme to make sure we have the best possible data on the flow of imports and exports. While measuring trade in goods is relatively straightforward, tracking services is rather trickier. Here Sami Hamroush writes about the challenge of measuring so-called ‘modes of supply’ – the means by which services are exchanged across borders – and how this can reveal a sharper picture of the UK’s trade position.

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