OECD Trade Policy Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected trade policy studies prepared for use within the OECD.

NB. No. 1 to No. 139 were released under the previous series title OECD Trade Policy Working Papers.


Shedding light on the drivers of services tradability over two decades

Services have become significantly more tradable in the first two decades of the 21st century. This paper documents that trade costs for financial services, communication services and business services fell by between 30% and 60% between 2000 and 2019. Information and communication technology and growth of air traffic have acted as key drivers of this development. While there is some variation across sectors, the analysis suggests that these two determinants jointly account for a quarter to half of the aggregate decline in trade costs for services during this 20-year period. Furthermore, services provisions in regional trade agreements (RTAs) can explain between 3% and 14% of the reduction in trade costs for communications services and financial and insurance services. These findings demonstrate the importance of whole-of-government strategies to promote services trade competitiveness, inter alia market access, regulatory reform, as well as investment in physical and digital infrastructure and adoption of new technologies.


Keywords: Digitalisation, Trade policy, Digital trade, Trade costs, Trade liberalisation, Services trade
JEL: F68: International Economics / Economic Impacts of Globalization / Economic Impacts of Globalization: Policy; F15: International Economics / Trade / Economic Integration; F14: International Economics / Trade / Empirical Studies of Trade; F13: International Economics / Trade / Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations; O33: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights / Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
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