Trade in services by category

Changes in services exports by category, 2014–2019 (Average annual growth rate, percentage)
a
Including the Russian Federation and the French overseas departments.
Find the data on UNCTADstat

Regional trends over five years

Between 2014 and 2019, exports of services increased in all main service categories in Northern America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. Asian exports grew particularly fast. In telecommunications, computer and information services the annual average increase was 9.7 per cent. This sector showed the most dynamic development over the five-year period across the world, except in Africa, where those services exports declined. Travel exports grew across all regions, though less in Northern America and Europe than elsewhere.

Latin America and the Caribbean lost market share in insurance, financial, intellectual property and other business services, between 2014 and 2019. Exports of transport showed slow growth compared to other service categories, especially in the main transport-supplying regions, Northern America, Europe and Asia.

Global trends in 2019

As in 2018, in 2019 telecommunications, computer and information services were the service category in which trade grew fastest. These exports rose by 8.7 per cent in 2019. Business, intellectual property, financial and insurance services exports grew modestly (+2.5 per cent). International travel increased by 1 per cent, while exports of transport and other services slightly declined.

Transport and travel dominate the exports from developing and transition economies. Developed economies export mainly insurance, financial, intellectual property and other business services.

Figure 1Annual growth rate of services exports, 2019 (Percentage)

Predominance of developed economies

In 2019, 68 per cent of all internationally traded services were supplied by developed economies. In transport and travel, this share was a bit lower: 60 and 58 per cent, respectively. In other services – many of them relying on technologically advanced products and networks – the share of the developed world stood at 69 per cent.

Figure 2Structure of services exports, 2019 (Percentage)

It remains difficult for developing economies to compete in technology-intensive services markets, except for certain Asian economies. In the fastest growing main service category – telecommunications, computer and information – developing economies outside of Asia and Oceania captured just 2.4 per cent of the global market in 2019.

Figure 3Exports of telecommunications, computer and information services, by group of economies, 2019 (Percentage)

Summary tables

Table 1

Trade in services by service category and by group of economies

Developing economies

Service category

Exports

Imports

Balance

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

Total services

1 512

1 833

2.5

1 949

2 108

-1.8

-437

-275

Transport

343

363

-0.1

560

571

-2.0

-217

-207

Travel

486

572

2.3

551

636

-2.9

-65

-64

Other

683

898

3.7

838

901

-0.9

-155

-3

Developing economies: Africa

Service category

Exports

Imports

Balance

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

Total services

106

122

2.3

187

182

2.7

-81

-60

Transport

30

31

1.6

71

61

-2.3

-41

-31

Travel

43

51

1.6

25

35

16.3

18

15

Other

33

40

3.8

91

85

1.6

-58

-45

Developing economies: America

Service category

Exports

Imports

Balance

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

Total services

179

198

1.0

241

220

-4.0

-63

-22

Transport

31

31

0.2

69

61

-4.4

-38

-30

Travel

74

95

3.5

61

58

-6.7

14

37

Other

73

72

-1.9

112

101

-2.1

-39

-29

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

Service category

Exports

Imports

Balance

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

Total services

1 227

1 513

2.7

1 521

1 706

-2.0

-294

-193

Transport

282

302

-0.4

421

448

-1.6

-138

-147

Travel

369

426

2.1

465

543

-3.5

-96

-117

Other

576

785

4.3

635

715

-1.0

-59

71

Transition economies

Service category

Exports

Imports

Balance

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

Total services

127

137

1.5

187

172

5.3

-60

-35

Transport

44

45

-0.7

32

35

5.6

12

10

Travel

29

34

0.8

71

62

5.5

-42

-28

Other

54

58

3.8

85

75

4.9

-31

-17

Developed economies

Service category

Exports

Imports

Balance

Value

Annual growth rate

Value

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

2019

2014

2019

Total services

3 606

4 174

1.7

3 005

3 546

4.4

601

628

Transport

612

620

-1.2

589

601

-2.0

22

19

Travel

734

837

0.2

624

692

1.6

110

145

Other

2 261

2 717

2.9

1 792

2 253

7.2

468

464

Table 2

Exports of selected services, by region, 2019

(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

World

137 031

520 441

409 173

678 222

1 399 853

Northern America

18 141

145 055

122 787

64 616

217 033

Latin America and the Caribbean

5 926

4 694

1 233

9 658

36 452

Europe

79 654

273 847

203 667

390 440

735 961

Sub-Saharan Africa

1 344

2 605

314

3 469

12 462

Western Asia and Northern Africa

10 628

6 039

6 484

37 287

38 820

Central and Southern Asia

2 921

5 575

945

68 640

78 344

Eastern and South-Eastern Asia

17 839

78 449

72 362

99 728

270 779

Oceania

578

4 177

1 382

4 386

10 002

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

31 232

78 567

25 420

140 924

296 814

Developing economies excluding LDCs

35 707

81 813

31 964

192 240

365 391

LDCs

297

658

99

2 468

4 670

LLDCs

406

510

140

2 451

3 928

SIDS (UNCTAD)

186

205

37

513

1 720

HIPCs (IMF)

360

579

61

2 012

9 611

BRICS

8 792

11 679

9 279

127 353

177 472

G20

106 390

426 848

365 835

576 090

1 173 310