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Internationalization of service industries: a comparative approach


  • Juan R. Cuadrado Roura
  • Luis Rubalcaba Bermejo


This working paper explores service internationalisation trends including levels, growth rates, leadership and the relative position of service industries. The analysis draws upon the most recent available data and a comparative approach is developed that explores differences between countries, sectors and internationalisation modes. Given the heterogeneity of the service sector the internationalisation of service industries has different profiles, trends and dynamics. These are the main conclusions: The levels of tertiarisation are still modest in foreign direct investment, very low in international trade and high in mergers and acquisitions. In terms of the different modes of service internationalisation the evidence suggests a shift away from international trade to foreign direct investment and, above all, in the 1990s, from international trade and greenfield foreign direct investment to mergers and acquisitions. One of the reasons for this shift is the increasing maturing of key service markets. The European Union and United States dominate the global market in service trade (around 60%), despite the recently increasing importance of some Asian countries. Most European Union countries have positive trade balances in some specific services and possess comparative advantages in selected markets. International specialisation within service trade modes seems to be related to the uneven development of the service economy. Service internationalisation is being led by financial, transport and communication industries. These sectors are internationalising at levels that are similar in relative terms to those of the manufacturing sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan R. Cuadrado Roura & Luis Rubalcaba Bermejo, 2001. "Internationalization of service industries: a comparative approach," Working Papers 04/01, Instituto Universitario de Análisis Económico y Social.
  • Handle: RePEc:uae:wpaper:0401

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sapir, André, 1991. "The Structure of Services in Europe: A Conceptual Framework," CEPR Discussion Papers 498, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Janet Haddock, 2000. "Rule-Based Decision Making And Its Applicability To Environmental-Related Trade Disputes In The World Trade Organisation (Wto)," Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management (JEAPM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 2(01), pages 81-98.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlos Díaz de la Guardia & José Molero Zayas & Patricia Valadez, 2005. "International Competitiveness in Services in Some European Countries: Basic Facts and a Preliminary Attempt of Interpretation," Working Papers del Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales 0501, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales.
    2. Ana Bobirca & Paul-Gabriel Miclaus, 2008. "The Structure Of Romania�S International Specialization In Services Trade," Journal of Applied Economic Sciences, Spiru Haret University, Faculty of Financial Management and Accounting Craiova, vol. 3(1(3)_Spri).
    3. repec:ucm:wpaper:01-05 is not listed on IDEAS


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