I’m interested in making sense of the massive gap between exports and imports of royalties and licences.
How do we interpret the high level of imports? Most of which are bought, according to the annual services inquiry, by the computer services industry (74% in 2006) with the rest split largely between R&D companies and wholesale trade companies (c. 10% each)
1. Are the royalties and licences being bought as inputs into production/ innovation? In which case it reflects a continuing dependence on international intellectual property and an ongoing weakness in innovation (particularly given the low level of exports of royalties etc)
2. Are they being bought as a way of repatriating profits? In which case, it may either point to high levels of transfer pricing in the sectors that are importing these royalties and licences, or may reflect improved performance of their international operations by indigenous companies that are then re-patriating profits. if we had data on purchases by sector and nationality of firm we could get some insight into this question, but I haven’t seen that anywhere.
The data do not seem to be publicly available in order to figure out which of the above is at work, and to what degree.
Any tips on additional data or evidence – or interpretations – welcome.