Services Trade: Past Liberalization and Future Challenges
Posted: 27 Jun 2008
Services trade has truly become an engine of world growth. Over the past two decades, international trade in services has grown faster than world merchandize trade, which in turn has grown faster than world output. A combination of policy liberalization and technological progress has facilitated trade in many previously untradable services. However, very little progress has been made towards new policy liberalization in the ongoing Doha Development Round. This article discusses trade in services in five sections. Following a short introduction, Section I presents data on the past growth of services trade flows and makes rough projections of future expansion. The second and third sections summarize the achievements of the WTO in the service field, both as a negotiating forum and a dispute settlement system. The third section also emphasizes how FTAs are now playing the leading role in services liberalization. The fourth section critiques the absence of progress in the Doha Round and the fifth section examines the hot issue of services outsourcing. The concluding section offers policy recommendations for containing a possible protectionist backlash and promoting new liberalization.
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