A leading cause of coverage gaps in the international accounts (balance of payments and international investment position (IIP)) is the omission of activities outside the scope of national data collection and compilation systems. Such activities may be conducted in the informal sector, may exist underground, and/or may be illegal—with the boundaries among these activities usually overlapping. This poses challenges for compilers of the international accounts, and leads to issues of consistency and comparability of measurements across economies, and across macroeconomic datasets for an economy.

To begin addressing coverage data gaps in informal, underground, and illegal activities in the international accounts, the IMF Committee on Balance of Payments Statistics supported the establishment of a Task Force on the Informal Economy (TFIE) at its meeting of October 2017. The TFIE work was centered on identifying “encouraged practices” in data compilation of these activities, building on the conceptual frameworks defined by different international organizations.

The results of the TFIE’s two-year work are presented on this webpage, which disseminates information on the compilation practices of selected economies. The information covers collection and compilation techniques used by these economies to estimate informal, underground, and/or illegal cross-border transactions and positions in their international accounts. The objective of disseminating this information is to provide a knowledge exchange resource tool for national compilers to benefit from the experiences of their peers, thereby augmenting the capacity development program in macroeconomic statistics offered by the IMF.

1/ TFIE Phase 1 Report and TFIE Phase 2 Report