Mamadaliev Odiljon Toirovich
Head, Department for Information Dissemination,
International Cooperation and Information Exchange,
State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics
Importance of international cooperation in the field of official statistics
The rapid development of international economic relations in the 21st century stimulates countries to optimally use statistical data and strive to improve national statistical systems. The cooperation of national statistical agencies has specific objectives: exchange with statistical information and techniques, study of experience in conducting statistical observations, organization of the infrastructure of official statistics, and interaction with users and respondents. This work, in turn, contributes to the improvement of national practices. However, the national statistical offices, which are carried out within the framework of cooperation organized by international organizations, are most significant. The scope of this cooperation is very wide, it includes contacts within international working groups, participation in meetings as well as activities to improve statistics.
The main areas of international cooperation in the field of statistics include collection of data from national statistical offices by programs of international organizations; dissemination of comparable, country specific statistical information; development of international statistical standards, guidelines, recommendations; and promotion of their use by national statistical offices.
In the field of statistics, countries and organizations can be distinguished that provide technical assistance and channel resources to countries where official statistics systems need to be built or improved.
Cooperation is organized taking into account the needs of regional groups of countries which has a noticeable effect since it is evident that countries have similar priorities in the field of statistics. Regional cooperation programs support cooperation between regional groups and between countries within these groups.
The functions of the regional commissions and conferences of statisticians are as follows:
- Monitoring the implementation of international standards in the countries of the region and stimulating their implementation;
- Organization of technical cooperation;
- Participation in the development of international statistical standards;
- Collection and dissemination of statistical information on the region; and
- General coordination of statistical activities in the region.
An important goal of cooperation in the field of statistics is to create and develop statistical data collection system in countries as a basis for policy development and decision-making related to socio-economic development.
The supreme body in the "statistical world" is the United Nations Statistical Commission (UN SC), which makes decisions regarding the strategy for the development of national statistical systems and the development of recommendations on theory and practice in the field of statistics.
In the European region, the Conference of European Statisticians is functioning under the aegis of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
Activities in the field of international cooperation also are carried out by the statistical departments of the specialized agencies of the United Nations (WB, IMF, etc.) in the following areas:
- Interaction with regional organizations for efficient use of resources;
- Assistance in the development of statistical standards in specific areas of their competences (as lead or auxiliary organizations);
- Stimulating the implementation of these standards.
The methodological uniformity of the indicators under the national accounts of statistical systems is one of the most important conditions for international integration. The introduction of the SNA into the practice of statistical offices is considered by the UN SC as the main direction for the development of official statistics in the countries of the world which contributes to the international comparability of final statistical observations and calculations. The definition of implementation degree for the SNA in national statistical practice is assessed based on submission completeness of the required data to upranational organizations, the availability of practical guidelines and techniques for carrying out relevant statistical observations and calculations in the country; and on the analysis of data reported by the statistical offices of countries to the Statistical Division of the United Nations Secretariat according to annual basis questionnaires sent to them on national accounts.
In addition international and supranational organizations that are not part of the UN system, for example, the Statistical Committee of the CIS, OECD, Eurostat and others, are participants in the process of improving statistics at the international level.
Their role is:
- In promoting the development of international statistical standards (as lead or auxiliary organizations);
- To ensure the greatest possible coherence with world standards;
- In monitoring the implementation of international standards in member countries; and
- In promoting technical cooperation in agreed thematic areas and certain regions.
It should be noted that all international organizations, both inbound in the UN system as well as those that are completely independent, contribute to the development and implementation of statistical standards from their own strategic needs and carry out this activity in accordance with the priorities set by the United Nations Statistical Commission.
For a preliminary discussion of theoretical and practical problems in the field of statistics, the UN Secretariat forms «Сity» groups of experts, each of which is named at the venue of the organizing seminar. These groups are associations (open to interested persons) of representatives of national statistical offices and statisticians working in international organizations, which in their seminars and conferences develop their own solutions. Their role is:
- In actively contributing to the development of international standards in specific areas of statistics in accordance with the international program of work;
- In the exchange of information on best practices; and
- In consulting, developing classifications, preparing manuals at the request of the UN SC.
Officially recognized by the UN SC "City" groups are:
- The Voorburg group. Sphere of activity: service statistics. Organizers: Statistics Division of the United Nations Secretariat, Statistics Canada;
- The Ottawa group. Sphere of activity: price statistics. Organizers: Statistics Division of the United Nations Secretariat, Statistics Canada;
- The London Group. Field of activity: environmental accounting. Organizers: Statistical Division of the UN Secretariat, Eurostat;
- The Paris group. Sphere of activity: statistics of labor and wages. Organizers: Statistics Division of the UN Secretariat, National Institute of Statistics and Economic Research of France;
- The Delhi group. Sphere of activity: statistics of the informal sector. Organizers: Statistics Division of the UN Secretariat, Statistics Department of India;
- Canberra Group. Sphere of activity: statistics of household incomes. Organizers: Statistics Division of the United Nations Secretariat, Statistics Australia;
- Siena Group. Sphere of activity: social statistics. Organizers: Statistical Division of the UN Secretariat, Eurostat;
- The Rio Group. Sphere of activity: statistics of poverty. Organizers: Statistical Division of the UN Secretariat;
- "Round table". Field of activity: business registers and business surveys. Organizers: Statistics Division of the UN Secretariat.
Similar functions are performed by the target groups of experts created by the UN SC decisions.
At present, target groups are working on international trade statistics, national accounts, agriculture, fixed capital, intangible assets and migration.
A significant role in improving statistical theory and practice is played by the International Statistical Institute (ISI), which organizes its work by the following sections:
- Bernoulli Society on mathematical statistics and probability;
- International Association of Official Statistics;
- International Association of Statistical Surveys;
- International Association of Statistical Computerization;
– International Association of Statistical Education.
Once every two years, the ISI holds sessions at which scientists and practitioners from different countries report.
The UN Statistical Commission, as the main mechanism for uniting the efforts of statisticians from all over the world and its regional offices, in particular the Conference of European Statisticians, constantly pays attention to the problems of optimizing the collection of statistical data from national statistical offices at their meetings and in the ongoing work of the respective secretariats. The collection of information is carried out by many international organizations with the help of questionnaires on various topics, but the SC and the Statistical Division of the UN Secretariat act as coordinators of this process.
The national statistical offices have been entrusted with the functions of the parent organization to submit statistical information in accordance with the obligations of states to the international community, by fulfilling which, they regularly submit statistical data and answers to questionnaires.
Statistical information is collected by other organizations and UN bodies in various areas, such as health and health systems, civil aviation, transport, communications, human rights, drug use, crime and prison systems, the status of women, science, technology and etc.
The leading role in the world in coordinating activities related to the development and application of generally accepted standards, methods and definitions in the field of labor relations belongs to the International Labor Organization (ILO). International standards in various areas of labor statistics are contained in resolutions adopted at international conferences of labor statisticians (ICLS). The resolutions of the ICLS set the goals and scope of statistical programs, basic concepts and definitions, classifications, specific indicators, methods for data collection and analysis, general recommendations for the publication of data.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in accordance with its status as an intergovernmental international organization, deals with the issues of food resources and agricultural development of various countries and is the main UN center for the development of agricultural statistics.
The IMF plays a leading role in the development of macroeconomic statistics. Experts of the IMF Statistics Department assess the statistical activities in countries for compliance with accepted standards in the SNA, price statistics, balance of payments and government finance statistics.
National statistical offices fill out a special IMF questionnaire (report) that contains information on the gross domestic product measured by the end-use and production method, gross national and disposable income, household consumption expenditure, government consumption expenditure, non-profit organizations serving households, the accumulation of fixed capital (including the net acquisition of values), changes in inventories of material turnover import and export, net production income from abroad, gross savings, as well as a statistical discrepancy in GDP estimates. These data are collected and published on quarterly mode.
Based on the data collected from countries on the questionnaires, the Statistics Division of the UN Secretariat publishes information on national accounts in statistical handbooks: National Accounts Statistics: Main Aggregates and Detailed Tables, Statistical Yearbook, Trends in Europe and North America. The IMF publishes similar data in the International Financial Statistics directory.
An important participant in international information exchange is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which contributes to the comparability of official statistical methodology applied in different countries and development of a coordinated position of countries in various areas of statistics, especially the implementation of the SNA and international comparison programs.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) maintains a statistical database, which is formed on the basis of information from questionnaires submitted by countries on the production and use of oil, natural gas, coal, electricity, heat, etc. The IEA has the status of an independent body established to coordinate energy programs in countries and regions of the world, organization of information support of the international energy market, ensuring the sustainability of international trade through the development of cooperation between leaders and consuming countries.
An example of a supranational statistical organization is Eurostat, which was created to provide EU users with reliable, complete and comparable statistical information on countries. To this end, Eurostat applies uniform rules for the collection of statistical data from EU member countries concerning the practical application of economic and statistical classifications, indicator concepts and methods of statistical observations.
International information exchange assumes that all its participants speak in one «Statistical» language or, at least, make available to all information about the national system of official statistics, which include descriptions of the methodology and publications used.
Data dissemination standards are designed to create favorable conditions for the organization of official statistical activities, to stimulate them, to satisfy national and foreign users, to ensure international comparability of indicator systems, methods for calculating them and collecting statistical data. The introduction of standards helps to better coordinate the efforts of agencies that create information within the country.
A special role here is played IMF, which implements three systems aimed at countries with different levels of development of official statistics:
- enhanced general data dissemination system (e-GDDS);
- special data dissemination standard (SDDS); and
- special data dissemination standard plus (SDDS+).
The implementation history of standards began in the 1990s, during financial crises, when data shortcomings led to delays in applying preventive or corrective measures to mitigate economic consequences. In response, the IMF embarked on to implement data standards initiatives in order to increase the transparency of member countries data and to contribute to the development of reliable statistical systems. Thus, in March 1996, the IMF introduced the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), and in December 1997 - the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS).
The SDDS was approved as the first of two levels envisaged by the initiative regarding data standards. The IMF Board of Directors has established SDDS as a guide for member countries in providing economic and financial data to the public. The goal was to increase the availability of timely and complete statistics, thereby helping countries to achieve a sound macroeconomic policy and improve the performance of financial markets.
In turn, GDDS, is a structured process through which IMF member countries undertake a long-term commitment to improve the quality of data compiled and disseminated by their statistical systems in order to meet the needs of macroeconomic analysis.
The goal of GDDS is to help member countries develop their statistical systems; it is used as a development tool to prepare for the transition to SDDS.
At the same time, countries can only participate in one of the systems: either GDDS or SDDS. The accession of member countries to SDDS or their participation in GDDS
is absolutely voluntary.
By joining to these standards, the governments of countries confirm a firm commitment to the principles of transparency regarding data standards.
In general, both of these initiatives have shown their success, as they have expanded the range, improved the quality and timeliness of country data available to the public and contributed to a better understanding of the risks in the financial sector and international financial relations as well as the vulnerabilities of the economies of these countries in the event of shocks.
This allowed to obtain better information both for use in operations on international financial markets and as a basis for evaluating economic policy in general and, thereby, facilitated the decision-making process in the public and private sectors.
Along with this, the initiatives of a number of countries (mainly developed countries) created the third standard, or the most advanced version of SDDS +, also on July 1, 2015 the IMF Board of Directors approved the introduction of a more enhanced version of GDDS ((enhanced) e-GDDS), which effectively replaced the GDDS of 1997.
The key changes in e-GDDS, in comparison with GDDS, are:
(a) Optimization of data categories with common indicators used in the monitoring by Fund;
(b) Improving access to data by including the National Summary Data Page (NSDP); and
(c) Establishing ways to achieve higher dissemination standards through the introduction of distribution thresholds.
The standards provide for the presentation of certain sets of statistics on the Internet on the websites of national statistical offices, national banks, and other agencies that form statistical resources.
What is important is that they require national statistical offices and other statistical producers to provide users with information that would allow them to evaluate the quality of the data. This is achieved through the public publication of sources and methods of data collection; regulating access to them; applied methods; and defining their compliance with international statistical manuals.
Currently, 111 countries are members of the e-GDDS, 61 countries of the SDDS and 14 countries of the SDDS + standards, developed by IMF initiatives.
The most important activity of the UN SC is to organize the participation of national statistical offices in international comparison programs. Within these programs, physical volumes of GDP are compared across countries. It is GDP that is the main measure for representing the scale of the country's economic activity and the level of its economic well-being.
International comparisons require that the definition of GDP be the same in all countries, that is, this indicator should be expressed in the same monetary unit and taking into account the elimination of differences in price levels in the domestic markets of countries.
The program of international comparisons should be considered as the development of national accounts and the construction of an intercountry set of economic accounts. Importantly, national statistical offices should coordinate their efforts with other countries to ensure consistency in the collection of price data, which is based on countries using standard specifications. Part of the specifications are basic (mandatory for all member countries of the program) goods. They serve as the basis for price observations in regional or group comparisons. In the regional group of countries, the set of goods includes those that were proposed by most countries of this group, and most of the basic goods.
International cooperation in the activities of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics
In accordance with international rules and standards, the implementation of international cooperation programs, as well as the provision of international organizations with the necessary statistical information are prescribed in the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On State Statistics", approved on December 12, 2002.
An important role in the development of international relations and the international information exchange of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics with international organizations and statistical agencies of other countries belongs to the Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, №3165, adopted on July 31, 2017, "On measures to improve the activities of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics ".
The resolution approved the five-year program, which defines the priority areas for the activities of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics and its territorial divisions for 2017-2021, in particular, section IV is devoted to expanding cooperation with international organizations.
The State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics is actively working to establish close contacts and mutual cooperation with international organizations, statistical and financial institutions, and statistical agencies of other countries.
Since one of the important areas of international cooperation is the exchange of statistical information that ensures the real and the full representation of information about the Republic of Uzbekistan in publications and data banks of international organizations, the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics pays special attention to providing the required statistical information to international organizations by filling out special questionnaires at their request.
In particular, in 2018, the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics will provide information by filling in 23 questionnaires of international organizations. It is necessary to mention the followings:
- Statistical Department of the UN Secretariat:
- Questionnaire for the Yearbook on Industrial Production Statistics;
- Questionnaires on indices of industrial production;
- Questionnaire on statistics of international trade in services; and
- Questionnaires for the Demographic Yearbook (population estimates, international migration and travel, natural population movements).
- Questionnaire on selected macroeconomic indicators (price indices, indices
of industrial production, wages, retail trade, employment, unemployment and foreign trade); and
- United Nations questionnaire on national accounts.
- Questionnaire for "Asia-Pacific Region in Figures" publication (population statistics, social statistics, employment, energy, national accounts, foreign trade, financial statistics, price indices, industrial production, land use, transport and tourism);
- Questionnaire for the ESCAP Yearbook (population statistics, employment, unemployment, wages, energy, foreign trade, financial statistics, price indices, industrial production, agricultural production, land use, fertilizers, fishing, industrial production, transport and road accidents).
- Questionnaire on research and experimental development;
- Questionnaire on statistical data relating to films and cinemas;
- Questionnaire on literacy statistics;
- Questionnaire on innovation statistics;
- Questionnaire on education;
- Questionnaire on education (national education system);
- Questionnaire on education (ISCED 0-4); and
- Questionnaire on education (ISCED 5-8).
- Questionnaire on statistics of agricultural production.
- Information for the CRING database; and
- Information for the TransMonEE database.
- Eurostat, ITF, UNECE:
- Common questionnaire on transport statistics.
- International Telecommunication Union (ITU):
- Questionnaire on the use of ICT by households.
- Statistical Committee of the CIS:
- Questionnaire for the interstate exchange of statistical information within the CIS countries.
- Asian Development Bank (ADB):
- Country questionnaire for the publication of benchmarks on gender equality and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.
- International Monetary Fund (IMF):
- Maintaining the national summary data page, publishing the necessary financial, economic and other indicators within the framework of the IMF e-GDDS.
Along with this, information is provided at the request of other international organizations, financial and research institutions and other institutions that have expressed their interest in statistical information.
The cooperation with international organizations such as UN structures, Eurostat, UNECE, CIS Statistical Committee, OIC Statistical Committee, IMF, ADB and others has been established and is actively developing in the sphere of statistical information exchange, experience exchange, and skills, development of specialists in the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics through their participation in international seminars, trainings and courses as well as in course of study tours of working groups in certain areas.
Close cooperation has been established with national statistical offices of other countries, such as the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, the State Statistics Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the National Statistics office of Georgia, the National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic, «Statistics Korea» of the Republic of Korea and others.
Particular attention is paid to organizing joint events with international organizations, in particular, conducting training seminars, joint reviews, recruiting consultants, participation of staff at international conferences, seminars, trainings, training courses, and also during study tours of working groups in certain areas.
In 2017, the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics jointly with the UNECE organized a seminar, which examined the general model of statistical business processes and its practical application, as well as the issues of maintaining statistics on the goals of sustainable development.
The employees of the system of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics regularly take part in international seminars and training courses. In particular, in 2017, 53 employees participated in 40 seminars and training courses in Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Greece, Serbia, South Korea, China, Thailand, Turkey, Belarus, Lithuania, Montenegro, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, organized by international organizations such as UN Statistics Division, UNECE, UNICEF, FAO, Eurostat, SIAP, IMF, World Bank, European Free Trade Association and others.
Jointly with the UNECE a "Joint Review" of the activities of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics for compliance with international principles and standards is planned in November 2018.
This review will allow us to assess the current level, identify advantages and gaps, and identify further plans to address deficiencies and improve the activities of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics.
Jointly with FAO and the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, a group visit will be organizing to the Russian Federation in September, 2018 where a team of specialists of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics will be able to learn the experience of the Russian Federation in holding the agricultural census. Also, jointly with UNFPA and the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, in October 2018 a group of specialists from the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan will visit the trial census to be held in four regions of the Russian Federation.
Special note should be given to the decision of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the implementation of the standards for the enhanced General Data Dissemination System (e-GDDS) of the International Monetary Fund. In 2017, a number of regulatory and legal documents was adopted, and, in accordance with the recommendations of the IMF, the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan was appointed as the «National Coordinator» in this effort.
As part of the implementation of the e-GDDS in the Republic of Uzbekistan, close cooperation with the IMF has been established, in order to provide technical assistance in developing and improving indicators, to bring them in line with international standards IMF deploys technical assistance missions in this area.
On the official website of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics, the IMF e-GDDS page has been created; the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank, and "Toshkent" Republic Stock Exchange populated it with the necessary information. Also, in accordance with the standards, developed and launched "National Summary Data Page" from May, 2018.
Undoubtedly, the accession of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the initiatives of the IMF in relation to data dissemination standards and regular presentation of the indicators included in the e-GDDS would contribute to improving the international image of Uzbekistan and would demonstrate its real economic achievements to the international community.
In general, international cooperation in the field of official statistical activities plays an important role in providing comprehensive, high-quality, reliable, comparable, transparent and up-to-date information to the general public.