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The Evolution of Services Trade Policy Since the Great Recession


  • Borchert,Ingo
  • Magdeleine,Joscelyn
  • Marchetti,Juan A.
  • Mattoo,Aaditya


Are changes in services markets provoking reform, restrictions, or inertia? To address this question, this paper draws on a new World Bank-World Trade Organization Services Trade Policy Database. The paper analyzes the services trade policies of 68 economies in 23 subsectors across five broad areas -- financial services, telecommunications, distribution, transportation, and professional services. Policy measures are quantified into a Services Trade Restrictions Index (STRI) following a novel, consistent and transparent framework. The paper identifies patterns of services trade policies across sectors and economies, and secular trends over the past decade. Higher income economies are still more open on average than developing economies, but the chronology of reform differs markedly across sectors. In telecommunications and finance, there is convergence toward greater openness driven by liberalization in the previously more restrictive developing economies. In the hitherto universally protected transport and professional services, there is policy divergence, as some higher income economies pioneer reform. But while explicit restrictions are being lowered in most services sectors—in contrast to recent developments in goods trade policy -- there is greater recourse to regulatory scrutiny, especially in higher income economies. These measures could reflect legitimate prudential or security concerns, but they could also reflect recourse to less transparent forms of protection.

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  • Borchert,Ingo & Magdeleine,Joscelyn & Marchetti,Juan A. & Mattoo,Aaditya, 2020. "The Evolution of Services Trade Policy Since the Great Recession," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9265, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:9265

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    1. Borchert, Ingo & Gootiiz, Batshur & Magdeleine, Joscelyn & Marchetti, Juan A. & Mattoo, Aaditya & Rubio, Ester & Shannon, Evgeniia, 2019. "Applied services trade policy: A guide to the Services Trade Policy Database and the Services Trade Restrictions Index," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2019-14, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
    2. Raghuram G. Rajan, 2010. "Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9111, April.
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    More about this item


    International Trade and Trade Rules; Transport Services; Trade Policy; Rules of Origin; Trade and Multilateral Issues; Telecommunications Infrastructure;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L80 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - General
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy

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