Conceptual and Political Economy Issues in Liberalizing International Transactions in Services
Services have become increasingly prominent on the international policy agenda since the early 1980s. Very little information exists on how and why international transactions in services occur, however. This paper discusses a number of the problems confronting governments interested in liberalizing access to service markets. The focus is on a `systemic' issue: the adequacy of available knowledge (the information base broadly defined) in terms of assisting policy-makers to define objectives, deal with vested interests and design practical procedures to liberalize international transactions in services. Two issues in particular are addressed: (i) the implications - and usefulness to policy-makers - of the economic literature that has emerged since the mid-1980s on trade in services; and (ii) the impact of the almost complete lack of information on the costs and benefits of policies affecting services on the political economy of the liberalization of trade in services.
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