Trade in services by category

Developing economies’ service exports: US$1.6 trillion
Developing and transition economies export mainly transport and travel services
Developed economies export mainly business services
Exports of transport services grow by almost 9%
Changes in services exports by category, 2012–2017 (Average annual growth rate, percentage)
Map changes in services exports by category, 2011–2016
a
Incl. the Russian Federation and the French overseas departments.
Find the data on UNCTADstat

Main regional trends from 2012 to 2017

Between 2012 and 2017, exports of different service categories have displayed a variety of trends across world regions. Travel exports increased strongly in Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern America, Asia, and Oceania; they remained static in Europe and declined in Africa. Exports of transport services decreased in all regions, while exports of other services rose in most parts of the world, except Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania.

Figure 1Structure of services exports, 2017
Structure of services exports, 2016 network chart

Note: For the grouping of service categories, see Classifications page.

Structure by group of economies and category

In 2017, developing economies exported services worth US$1.6 trillion, while exports from developed economies were valued at US$3.6 trillion, and those from transition economies US$122 billion.

Travel remains the top category in developing economies’ services exports, amounting to US$521 billion in 2017 and capturing 40 per cent of the global market (US$1.3 trillion). Transport ranks second, with a value of US$317 billion in 2017. Transport (US$42 billion) and travel (US$29 billion) are also the main categories of services exported by transition economies. Developed economies lead world services trade in all categories. Their services exports consist mainly of business services (US$1.2 trillion), followed by travel (US$760 billion) and transport (US$573 billion).

Figure 2Annual growth rate of services exports*, 2017 (Percentage)
*
Selected categories.

Note: For the grouping of service categories, see Classifications page.

Global trends in 2017

The surge of world service exports in 2017 (see Total trade in services page) was driven by all main service categories, though to different degrees. Transport showed the strongest increase: almost 9 per cent globally. This affirms the sector’s revival, related directly, as usual, to notable pick-up in international merchandise trade (see Total merchandise trade page).

Strong growth was recorded also for travel, intellectual property and other business services, as well as telecommunications, computer and information services. Exports in these service categories increased at rates of around 7 and 8 per cent. Insurance, pension and financial services as well as personal, cultural and recreational services recorded smaller, yet sizeable growth, with rates near 4 per cent.

Summary tables

Table 1

Trade in services by service category and by group of economies

Developing economies

Service category

Exports

Imports

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

2012

2017

2017

2012

2017

2017

Total services

1 328

1 579

7.8

1 639

1 951

6.3

Goods-related services

48

52

4.3

(b) 41

34

5.0

Transport

305

317

7.3

559

521

9.5

Travel

438

521

7.8

379

600

3.5

Other services

538

(b) 689

(b) 8.3

661

(b) 796

(b) 6.5

Developing economies: Africa

Service category

Exports

Imports

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

2012

2017

2017

2012

2017

2017

Total services

104

109

13.7

172

160

10.4

Goods-related services

2

2

4.0

1

1

7.4

Transport

28

28

8.0

68

59

6.6

Travel

44

44

25.0

26

24

17.8

Other services

29

34

6.5

78

76

11.3

Developing economies: America

Service category

Exports

Imports

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

2012

2017

2017

2012

2017

2017

Total services

164

185

6.0

224

218

6.4

Goods-related services

4

4

-2.8

1

2

19.4

Transport

30

29

6.2

68

60

10.4

Travel

64

88

6.8

53

60

13.2

Other services

66

64

5.4

101

96

0.3

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

Service category

Exports

Imports

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

2012

2017

2017

2012

2017

2017

Total services

1 060

1 285

7.5

1 244

1 573

5.9

Goods-related services

42

46

5.0

(b) 40

32

4.3

Transport

246

259

7.3

423

402

9.8

Travel

329

389

6.3

300

516

1.8

Other services

442

(b) 590

(b) 8.7

481

(b) 624

(b) 7.0

Transition economies

Service category

Exports

Imports

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

2012

2017

2017

2012

2017

2017

Total services

125

122

13.8

168

146

14.6

Goods-related services

9

7

11.8

2

3

14.6

Transport

42

42

12.4

33

27

17.9

Travel

29

29

16.0

59

50

23.2

Other services

45

45

14.0

74

66

7.7

Developed economies

Service category

Exports

Imports

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

2012

2017

2017

2012

2017

2017

Total services

3 092

3 650

7.7

2 652

3 084

6.1

Goods-related services

97

124

8.0

59

85

10.7

Transport

572

573

9.3

557

555

7.4

Travel

645

760

7.2

579

637

7.1

Other services

1 778

2 193

7.4

1 457

1 807

5.1

(b)
Break in the series.
Find the data on UNCTADstat
Table 2

Developing economies’ exports of selected services by region, 2017

(Millions of United States dollars)

Group of economies

Insurance
and
pension services

Financial
services

Charges for the use of intellectual
property n.i.e.

Telecommunications,
computer,
and information services

Other
business
services

Developing Africa

1 230

2 590

300

6 000

14 380

Eastern Africa

310

710

130

1 090

1 870

Middle Africa

20

30

20

130

-

Northern Africa

490

520

30

2 690

4 020

Southern Africa

220

910

120

710

2 220

Western Africa

190

420

10

1 370

5 380

Developing America

6 200

3 910

1 230

8 630

36 610

Caribbean

-

-

110

460

5 870

Central America

3 470

1 690

70

2 670

4 290

South America

2 280

1 310

1 050

5 500

26 450

Developing Asia and Oceania

26 600

66 530

27 430

129 290

258 030

Eastern Asia

7 350

29 660

14 300

37 950

106 540

Southern Asia

2 720

5 150

680

58 180

61 610

South-Eastern Asia

6 970

25 410

8 760

21 550

79 620

Western Asia

9 570

6 320

3 690

11 610

10 260

Oceania

10

-

0

-

-