The services industry constitutes the largest sector within domestic economies of OECD countries, and it is still growing - yet the share of services in global international trade appears to be about twenty percent and relatively stagnant as a share of the total.
Current statistics do not yet represent a full picture of the sector, making it difficult to assess developments. As a result there is strong demand for better statistical evidence regarding international trade in services.
Efforts to liberalise international trade in services, including in the Doha negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO), continue to be particularly difficult. Barriers to international trade in the services sector are for the most part domestic regulations which are not easily measured in quantitative terms.
Services liberalisation is of vital importance to both OECD members and to major economies outside the OECD area. That is why the OECD is devoting significant effort to help improve this situation by developing a new approach to quantifying the restrictiveness of regulations affecting trade in services.
Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI)
There is an increasingly complex web of interrelations between trade in goods, trade in services and foreign direct investment. Therefore, analysis of the policy issues involved is in strong demand. The OECD is recognised as a primary source of quantitative information on international trade in services and is undertaking an innovative approach to assess the degree to which regulations restrict the international exchange of services.
This approach will be tested empirically for a number of pilot sectors. If successful, the pilot work would provide a unique platform from which countries could move forward to improve both the domestic and the international performance of regulations affecting the services sectors. The OECD could provide a unique intellectual input into international trade negotiations in the services sector.
The OECD ultimately aims to improve the international community’s understanding of the interplay between trade in goods, international exchange of services and foreign investment, in order to be able to design appropriate policies that contribute to promoting trade in services while ensuring regulations meet public policy objectives.
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