Improving External Sector Statistics in Asia and the Pacific

Compiling and reporting of accurate statistics helps countries get a more accurate understanding of their economy — including their economic vulnerabilities and risks — and helps formulate more informed policies. It also sends a message of transparency, thereby attracting investors who use such statistics to gauge macroeconomic stability.


Until recently, many countries in Asia and Pacific region did not report adequate external sector statistics (ESS) to the IMF, in some cases severely hampering the assessment of their economies’ external situation, as well as related risks and vulnerabilities.


In 2012, the IMF, with support from the Government of Japan, launched a project to help eight Asian countries and 12 Pacific region countries to close these data gaps by increasing the availability, accuracy and timeliness of their ESS.


By the end of the project in 2015, 19 out of 20 countries produced reliable, comparable and timely ESS and provided them to the IMF, reporting them according to the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6). For some countries, it was the first time that the balance of payments, international investment position and the external debt statistics were compiled and reported to the IMF and/or the World Bank.

The data is now published in the IMF’s International Finance Statistics (IFS) and Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook and in the World Bank’s Quarterly External Debt Statistics database. The improved availability of ESS indicators will allow for better understanding of their economies’ vulnerabilities to external factors, such as climate change or the reliance on external financial support.