Summary of World Trade in Services

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At a time when protectionism threatens global trade, exports of services are growing. The worldwide trade in services is increasing faster than the trade in merchandise, thanks largely to information technologies. Economists Prakash Loungani, Saurabh Mishra, Chris Papageorgiou and Ke Wang offer an authoritative look at the implications this has for the world’s economies. Their succinct analysis reveals some important insights, and getAbstract suggests it to executives and policy makers interested in how the growing services trade might lead to a new round of globalization.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What types of service exports are growing,
  • Which regions are catching up to Europe and North America in exporting various services, and
  • How exports of services improve a country’s economic development.

About the Authors

Prakash Loungani, Chris Papageorgiou and Ke Wang are with the IMF. Saurabh Mishra is a senior financial consultant at the International Finance Corporation.



The export of services rose from about 9% of total worldwide exports in 1970 to more than 20% by 2014, while the progress of global trade in goods may be slowing after two decades of continued expansion. A study of 192 countries and 27 service industries shows that telecommunication, computer and information services constitute a major sector, with their worldwide exports growing the fastest of any services field between 1995 and 2014. Annual growth in these technological exports averaged 18%, reaching about $302 billion in 2014. Another critical industry is that of financial services, whose exports have rebounded since the 2008 crisis to $349 billion in 2014.

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