Exports of services as a ratio to gross domestic product, 2018(Percentage)

Growth in world services trade slowing down

After a strong increase of 7.9 per cent in 2017 and 7.7 per cent in 2018, slower growth of 2.7 per cent is nowcast for global services trade in 2019. In 2018, global services trade was valued at US$5.8 trillion, one quarter of the value of total exports and 7 per cent of world GDP. In 2019, it is nowcast to reach US$6.0 trillion.

In 2018, in many economies of Europe, Central America, the Caribbean and South-Eastern Asia, internationally sold services accounted for more than 10 per cent of GDP. Some smaller European economies, such as Luxembourg, Malta or Ireland, and several island economies, such as Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda or the Seychelles, relied to a particularly great extent on services exports. By contrast, in large parts of South America, Western and Central Africa as well as Western and Eastern Asia, services exports amounted to less than 3 per cent of GDP.

Figure 1World services exports (Trillions of United States dollars)

Note: The shaded area indicates UNCTAD nowcasts. For the methodology, see Calculation methods page.

American developing economies exhibit slower growth

Looking at the trends by development status and region, transition economies and developing economies in Asia and Oceania recorded strong growth in services exports; more than 10 per cent, exceeding their growth in imports. Africa saw a strong increase in imports (11.9 per cent) combined with slower growth of exports. In the developing economies of America, exports and imports increased at much lower rates, by less than 2 per cent. Exports and imports of developed economies rose at about equal pace as the world total.

Figure 2Services trade annual growth rates, 2018 (Percentage)

Leading services exporters

The world’s top services exporter in 2018 was the United States of America, with US$828 billion worth of services sold internationally, representing 14 per cent of global services exports. They were followed, at some distance, by three European countries that jointly captured 17 per cent of the world market. China, the leading exporter among developing economies, ranked fifth.

The top five exporting developing economies were Asian, comprising China, India, Singapore, Hong Kong SAR and the Republic of Korea. They held a world market share of almost 15 per cent, the same as all other developing economies combined.

Figure 3Top 5 services exporters, 2018 (Billions of United States dollars)

Summary tables

Table 1

Trade in services by group of economies

Group of economies

Exports

Imports

Value

Share in world

Annual growth rate

Value

Share in world

Annual growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

2013

2018

2018

2018

2013

2018

2018

2018

World

4 841

5 845

100.0

7.7

4 726

5 604

100.0

7.4

Developing economies

1 394

1 738

29.7

9.3

1 745

2 118

37.8

8.1

Developing economies: Africa

99

118

2.0

9.4

177

178

3.2

11.9

Developing economies: America

170

190

3.3

1.7

236

222

4.0

0.9

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

1 125

1 430

24.5

10.4

1 333

1 718

30.7

8.7

Transition economies

137

137

2.3

12.4

194

158

2.8

7.8

Developed economies

3 310

3 970

67.9

6.8

2 787

3 327

59.4

7.0

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

1 187

1 471

25.2

8.0

1 415

1 593

28.4

6.8

Developing economies excluding LDCs

1 358

1 692

29.0

9.0

1 666

2 041

36.4

8.1

LDCs

36

46

0.8

18.5

79

77

1.4

8.6

LLDCs

39

48

0.8

14.8

65

68

1.2

13.2

SIDS (UNCTAD)

19

25

0.4

9.8

14

16

0.3

2.9

HIPCs (IMF)

29

38

0.7

11.0

55

64

1.1

13.9

BRICS

481

587

10.0

12.6

688

881

15.7

10.7

G20

3 787

4 543

77.7

7.7

3 564

4 311

76.9

7.7

Table 2

Leading services exporters and importers by group of economies, 2018

Developing economies: Africa

Exporter

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

Egypt

(e) 24

(e) 0.40

(e) 20.6

Morocco

19

0.32

7.0

South Africa

16

0.27

1.3

Ghana

(e) 8

(e) 0.13

(e) 14.7

Kenya

(e) 5

(e) 0.09

(e) 14.4

Developing Africa

118

2.02

9.4

Importer

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

Nigeria

(e) 31

(e) 0.55

(e) 69.1

Egypt

(e) 19

(e) 0.33

(e) 4.9

South Africa

16

0.29

2.0

Algeria

(e) 11

(e) 0.19

(e) -3.6

Morocco

11

0.19

7.5

Developing Africa

178

3.18

11.9

Developing economies: America

Exporter

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

Brazil

34

0.58

-1.3

Mexico

(e) 29

(e) 0.49

(e) 5.1

Argentina

14

0.24

-4.2

Panama

14

0.24

2.7

Cuba

(e) 11

(e) 0.18

(e) -5.6

Developing America

190

3.26

1.7

Importer

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

Brazil

68

1.21

-0.5

Mexico

(e) 37

(e) 0.66

(e) 0.7

Argentina

24

0.43

-4.3

Chile

(e) 14

(e) 0.25

(e) 5.3

Colombia

(e) 13

(e) 0.24

(e) 7.1

Developing America

222

3.96

0.9

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

Exporter

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

China

267

4.57

17.0

India

(e) 205

(e) 3.51

(e) 10.7

Singapore

184

3.15

6.6

China, Hong Kong SAR

(e) 114

(e) 1.95

(e) 9.3

Korea, Republic of

(e) 97

(e) 1.65

(e) 10.4

Developing Asia and Oceania

1 430

24.46

10.4

Importer

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

China

525

9.37

12.3

Singapore

187

3.34

3.0

India

(e) 177

(e) 3.15

(e) 14.2

Korea, Republic of

(e) 124

(e) 2.22

(e) 1.9

Saudi Arabia

86

1.54

10.0

Developing Asia and Oceania

1 718

30.66

8.7

Transition economies

Exporter

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

Russian Federation

(e) 65

(e) 1.11

(e) 12.3

Ukraine

16

0.27

11.3

Belarus

9

0.15

11.2

Serbia

9

0.15

16.4

Kazakhstan

7

0.12

11.8

Transition economies

137

2.35

12.4

Importer

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

Russian Federation

(e) 95

(e) 1.69

(e) 6.6

Ukraine

14

0.26

9.3

Kazakhstan

12

0.21

17.7

Azerbaijan

7

0.12

-16.3

Serbia

7

0.12

19.6

Transition economies

158

2.82

7.8

Developed economies

Exporter

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

United States of America

(e) 828

(e) 14.17

(e) 3.9

United Kingdom

(e) 376

(e) 6.44

(e) 5.5

Germany

(e) 331

(e) 5.67

(e) 7.7

France

(e) 291

(e) 4.99

(e) 5.9

Netherlands

(e) 242

(e) 4.15

(e) 11.4

Developed economies

3 970

67.92

6.8

Importer

(Ranked by value)

Value

Share in

world total

Annual

growth rate

(Billions of US$)

(Percentage)

(Percentage)

United States of America

(e) 559

(e) 9.98

(e) 3.1

Germany

(e) 351

(e) 6.27

(e) 6.2

France

(e) 257

(e) 4.58

(e) 4.7

United Kingdom

(e) 235

(e) 4.20

(e) 10.5

Netherlands

(e) 229

(e) 4.08

(e) 10.9

Developed economies

3 327

59.38

7.0