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
 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
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
 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"
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?
Top-down would not be meaningful
Placing in retail sale would be conceptually wrong
Are they just handling payments?
Is there a solution that's consistent with old treatment?
Groupon, Sodexho
4. Internet sales issues
 Standard treatment for goods: ISIC 4791
(Retail sale via mail order houses or via
 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?
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?
When should a decision about ISIC Rev.4's future be taken?
Many countries are in the middle of the implementation
process; starting a change now may stop/damage this

Family of International Classifications