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Trade in ServicesThe performance of major services sectors is vital for growth and poverty reduction in developing countries. Backbone services like finance, telecommunications and transportation affect the productive potential of other sectors of the economy, and education and health services directly affect the wellbeing of the people. International trade and investment in services are also dynamic drivers of the globalization process, providing new opportunities for developing countries. Despite its importance, though, our understanding of trade in services is still limited. This is to a large extent due to the imperfect availability of data on international transactions in services, and the difficulties - both conceptual and practical - to quantify barriers to trade in investment in services.

Researchers at the World Bank and elsewhere have devoted significant efforts to overcoming these limitations. The links below offer an overview of our research agenda on services as well as further links to data, publications and other resources.

  • An introduction to services trade - forthcoming
  • Research agenda - forthcoming 



January 2, 2011Trade in Services under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: An Alternative to Migration? High unemployment among the young and low skilled is fuelling anti-immigration sentiments across the OECD.


December 24, 2010Services Trade Liberalisation and Regulatory Reform: Re-invigorating International Cooperation Trade in services is blighted by restrictive policy and is consequently one of the central issues in the Doha trade negotiations.

Global Services Policy Restrictiveness Database

Global Services Policy Restrictiveness Database: The database collects information on policies and regulations affecting international trade in services for 102 countries, providing for the first time ever in-depth information on barriers to services trade in a comparable manner for a global cross-section of countries.
thumbnail image for the Books page Services Trade & Development: The Experience of Zambia: This book provides a comprehensive assessment of Zambia’s current services policies as well as the structure and performance of its major services markets. It finds that serious imperfections in Zambia’s past services trade policies deprived the country of significant benefits, and examines how Zambia could implement services trade reform to achieve its development goals. Download the book

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A. Publications on Changing Patterns of International Integration

  • 2011 International Integration: World Bank. "World Development Indicators 2011," Chapter 6 – Global Links: Barriers to trade in services, pp. 319-320.

  • 2010 Nora Dihel, Ana Margarida Fernandes, Aaditya Mattoo, and Nicholas Strychacz, "Reform and Regional Integration of Professional Services in East Africa", Economic Premise, September 2010, Number 32.

  • World Bank, "Reform and Regional Integration of Professional Services in East Africa: Time for Action", Report

  • 2010 Nora Dihel, Ana M. Fernandes and Aaditya Mattoo, "Towards a Regional Integration of Professional Services in Southern Africa", Africa Trade Policy Note #10. 

  • 2010 Ingo Borchert and Aaditya Mattoo, The Crisis-Resilience of Services Trade, The Service Industries Journal 30(14): 1-20.

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B. Publications on Changing Services Policies

  • 2009 Ingo Borchert and Aaditya Mattoo, Services Trade – The Collapse That Wasn’t, in: The Great Trade Collapse: Causes, Consequences and Prospects. Richard Baldwin (ed.). London:

  • 2009 Ingo Borchert and Aaditya Mattoo, Is the Crisis Provoking Protection in Services?", Chap. 19 in: Effective Crisis Response and Openness: Implications for the Trading System, Simon Evenett, Bernard Hoekman and Olivier Cattaneo (eds.), CEPR, London.

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C. Publications on International Cooperation

  • 2011 Harnessing Regional Integration for Trade and Growth in Southern Africa," Chapter 3: Developing Services in Southern Africa – How Regional Integration Can Help, Report.

  • 2010 Bernard Hoekman, Will Martin and Aaditya Mattoo, Conclude Doha: It Matters, World Trade Review, vol. 9, 505-530.

  • 2009 William J. Martin and Aaditya Mattoo, The Doha Development Agenda: What’s on the Table, Journal of International Trade and Development, vol. 19, 81-107.
  • More >>

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  • Services Sector Openness Indicators
Additional Resources

The following units within the World Bank also work on specific services subsectors and host specialized knowledge and expertise:

The links below provide an overview of, and access to, external sources of data on trade in services. They are organized along the three different categories of data listed below:

  • Measures Affecting Trade in Services
    • General sources of information
    • Maritime Transport
    • Telecommunications

  • Trade and Investment Flows
    • General sources of information
    • Additional information on statistics

  • Market Structure and Performance Indicators
    • Information on specific services sectors: Telecommunications, Postal Services, Audiovisual Services, Construction Services, Distribution Services, Education Services, Financial Services, Health Services, Tourism, Transportation - including maritime transport, air transport, rail and road transport. 



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WPS6332Trade dimensions of logistics services : a proposal for trade agreementsKunaka, Charles; Mustra, Monica Alina; Saez, Sebastian2013/01
WPS6106CGE modeling of market access in servicesChristen, Elisabeth; Francois, Joseph; Hoekman, Bernard2012/06
WPS6108Guide to the services trade restrictions databaseBorchert, Ingo; Gootiiz, Batshur; Mattoo, Aaditya2012/06
WPS6109Policy barriers to international trade in services : evidence from a new databaseBorchert, Ingo; Gootiiz, Batshur; Mattoo, Aaditya2012/06
WPS6023Impact of services liberalization on industry productivity, exports and development : six empirical studies in the transition countriesTarr, David2012/04

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