Issues encountered in
ISIC Rev.4
United Nations Statistics Division
 UNSD has been monitoring feedback on
ISIC Rev.4 since its release in 2008
 (a) identify any problems with the current
version, i.e. text, of the classification
 (b) identify issues that have arisen in the
implementation of the classification in different
countries
 highlighting cases where the (generic) ISIC text
is difficult to apply to national specific cases
 indicating a need for revision of ISIC
 Feedback was gathered through workshops,
Hotline, website feedback
Editorial issues in ISIC rev.4
 A few errors (typos) have been
discovered in the English document
 easy to correct - no reprint necessary
 Other languages have more
numerous problems
 Example: French version
More serious issues
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1.
2.
3.
4.
Outsourcing
On-line activities
"Retail sale of services"
Internet sales issues
1. Outsourcing
 Common theme in workshops
 Explanation of current rule with examples is
usually sufficient
 No strong objection encountered
 No alternative proposals encountered in
workshops
 First counter-proposal is from ECE Task
Force (May 2013)
 triggered by factoryless goods producers
 shown in document 26
2. On-line activities
 Mostly received as Hotline questions, seeking
interpretation of activities with on-line presence
 Standard recommendation agreed by TSG:
 Treat the same as non-Internet based equivalent
 Problem:
 In some cases such equivalent is difficult to identify
 Examples:
 Social media activities, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr
 On-line dating sites, either general or for specific
segments of the population
 Photo-, music and other content-sharing websites
 Professional networks, like Linked In
3. "Retail sale of services"
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Conceptually, "retail sale of services" does not exist
We treated similar arrangements before as "agents" for the
respective service industry and classified them with the
service industry or in a special class (insurance agents,
travel agents)
This works if a single service is being "sold"
What to do if a large variety of services is involved?
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Top-down would not be meaningful
Placing in retail sale would be conceptually wrong
Are they just handling payments?
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Is there a solution that's consistent with old treatment?
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Examples:
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Groupon, Sodexho
4. Internet sales issues
 Standard treatment for goods: ISIC 4791
(Retail sale via mail order houses or via
Internet)
 Many sites have similar appearance, but
their involvement in the sale may differ
 Examples:
 Amazon vs. Google Shopping vs. Groupon vs.
Advertising placement
 In addition, problems arise when goods and
services get mixed
Next steps

The paper lists a number of criteria that could lead to a
different treatment in ISIC for the issues above

No explicit proposal for a change to ISIC has been recorded
(apart from new FGP issue)
Can the above situations be addressed in the current
structure, avoiding the need for an ISIC revision?
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Can we (re-)create the TSG to look into these ISIC issues
and draft a proposal?
What would be the timeline and process for resolution?
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When should a decision about ISIC Rev.4's future be taken?
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Many countries are in the middle of the implementation
process; starting a change now may stop/damage this
process.
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