WTO Canvasses Improved Collaboration on Trade

The World Trade Organisation has stated that there is a need for improved collaboration among developing countries to boost services trade.

A report titled “Trade in Services for Development”, which was sponsored by WTO and World Bank, said the growth of developing economies’ services exports had exceeded the world average over the past two decades, but more needs to be done to fully realise the contribution of services trade to development.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director-General of the WTO, together with Ajay Banga, the President of the World Bank, unveiled the report during a virtual event on Monday.

In her remarks, Okonjo-Iweala said, “The future of trade is services, digital and green and it must be inclusive. This new publication translates that conviction into a call for action. It documents how services trade has become a key ingredient in our members’ growth and development strategies, including by helping countries diversify and expand their export baskets, making them more resilient to external shocks.”

“The single best way to drive a nail into the coffin of poverty, give people a job. In today’s world and in tomorrow’s economy, delivering jobs means a very sharp focus on services. We need to build the tracks for the services train to run on, to run smoothly, quickly and at scale,” Banga also noted.

The report further said that while heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, services trade remained the most dynamic component of world trade.

“Digitally delivered services have grown at the fastest pace, well ahead of the growth of trade in goods,” it mentioned.

According to the report, services also generate more than two-thirds of GDP globally and represent 50 per cent of the world’s workforce in 2021.

In value-added terms, services account for 50 per cent of world trade, it further noted.

The report also looked at how developing economies could fully share in the benefits that services trade brings to their economies and step up their development prospects.

“In the broader context of a “Trade in Services for Development” initiative, an Aid-for-Trade package could help strengthen the participation of developing and least-developed economies in services trade,” it said.

It emphasised that scaled-up resources were needed to boost the capacities of developing economies to diversify and expand exports, design, and implement services trade reforms and supply competitive services to global markets.

It added that reviving international cooperation could help to bolster the effective participation of all WTO members in services trade negotiations and increase the transparency and predictability of services trade policies.

The report further highlighted that effective access to traded services ranging from health and education to finance, transport and logistics services will be key to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.