Services have become the most dynamic component of global trade, with an increasingly important role in the global economy and in everyday life. Yet the extent of services’ contribution to global trade is not always fully understood.
The World Trade Report 2019 attempts to remedy this, making use of a new dataset developed by the WTO that captures the various ways in which services are supplied across borders. The Report examines how trade in services has evolved in recent years and looks at the role that services trade plays in enhancing welfare and promoting inclusive growth. Major trends affecting trade in services, including demographic changes, digital technologies, rising incomes and climate change, are reviewed. The Report also estimates how services trade may evolve over the next 20 years and the prospects for enhancing international cooperation on services trade policy.
Trade costs for services are higher than those for goods but these costs are falling, largely due to the impact of digital technologies, the Report finds. It highlights how declining trade costs are expected to expand the share of services in global trade and how this could contribute to more inclusive growth and development. If governments are to reap the benefits of the growing role of services trade, international cooperation will need to intensify.