Giuseppe Berlingieri, Luca Marcolin, Emanuel Ornelas, 28 July 2021

Trade in services is important but difficult to measure. This column introduces a new dataset that helps understand the contribution of services to global value chains and their role in the process of exporting goods. Firms with longer experience in exporting goods to a destination tend to source export-related service inputs from there rather than domestically, and do so within the boundaries of the business group rather than at arm’s length.

Andrea Ariu, Florian Mayneris, Mathieu Parenti, 06 February 2020

Many large and successful firms sell both goods and services; yet economists and policymakers continue to consider the two as distinct sectors subject to their own market adjustments and specific policies. Based on Belgian data, this column argues that the most successful manufacturing firms thrive through selling services that are associated with their goods. Services increase the appeal of a firm’s products, thus allowing it to sell more and at higher prices in international markets. Considering goods and services separately in trade agreement negotiations is likely to miss part of the business and welfare gains and losses. 

Andrea Ariu, 23 December 2012

International trade is traditionally thought of as goods crossing borders. Trade in services, however, is becoming increasingly important for high-income countries. This column, using Belgian firm-level data from 1995-2005, argues that trade in goods and services differ deeply in key aspects such as firm participation rates, size and frequency of shipments, entry and exit rates in foreign markets and in growth strategies.

Giordano Mion, Andrea Ariu, 25 February 2012

Services trade has increased dramatically in the last 20 years. This column examines data from Belgium and suggests that the change in IT use does not translate into higher services exports. It argues instead that offshoring is a key factor contributing to the rise of services trade.

Sébastien Miroudot, Jehan Sauvage, Ben Shepherd, 17 January 2011

Trade in the services sector is a central theme of the Doha trade negotiations. This column argues that restrictive policies can make trade costs in the services sector up to three times higher than in the goods sector. Such high costs, it claims, are holding back the growth of trade in services.

Bernard Hoekman, Çağlar Özden, 02 January 2011

High unemployment among the young and low skilled is fuelling anti-immigration sentiments across the OECD. This column argues that, in Western Europe, demographic trends are such that demand for many workers will exceed supply. It proposes a framework that enables the temporary movement of services providers, a policy that could address Europe’s labour needs while placating public resistance.

Holger Breinlich, Chiara Criscuolo, 02 July 2010

Services trade accounts for a large and growing share of international trade - but we know very little about the firms carrying out this trade. Using firm-level data from the UK between 2000 and 2005, this column paints a detailed picture of importers and exporters of services, and discusses some of the resulting implications for economic policy.

Aaditya Mattoo, Ingo Borchert, 27 November 2009

Goods trade has collapsed; services trade hasn’t. The likely reasons are that demand for many traded services is less cyclical and their production is less dependent on finance. As services trade seems inherently less affected by crises, services should play a more prominent role in developing countries’ diversification strategies.


The fourth Summer Programme on the WTO, International Trade and Development will take place from June 28 to July 9, 2010 in Geneva. It will provide participants with a unique opportunity to enter into the analysis and atmosphere of multilateral trade. The programme, delivered with the Graduate Institute Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, combines economic, legal and political analysis of international trade and development.

Lectures and discussions will shed light on the following questions: the reasons why countries open their economies to trade and the reasons why they protect domestic industries, the means and pathways they use to either open or protect, what these considerations mean for the multilateral trading system and their implications for economic development.

Target Audience:
- Professionals keen to improve their knowledge on current major issues in international trade
- Students at MA level

Deadline for Applications
April 1, 2010

Holger Görg, Aoife Hanley, 07 September 2009

This column examines the impact of offshore outsourcing on firms’ profits and innovation. Using data on 2,000 Irish firms, it shows that the purchase of foreign inputs raises both profits and innovation. Offshore outsourcing seems to improve competitiveness and bode well for an economy’s long-term economic health.

Richard Baldwin, 15 June 2009

According to Alan Blinder, constant improvements in global communications will bring much more offshoring of “impersonal services’’, with an estimated 30 million to 40 million US jobs potentially offshorable. This column warns against taking these numbers at face value and recalls that the US is actually a net insourcer. With the advance of communication technologies, the US should see lots more service jobs “offshored” and lots more “onshored”.


CEPR Policy Research