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Services are key to economic growth and competitiveness. For too long services have been neglected component of international trade and the missing element in the search for increased productivity and economic dynamism. Services are the wheels that turn the global value-added chains and create an increasingly interconnected international economy. Service sector reform will also be critical to achieve the rebalancing economic structures in the region and help promote new engines in the region as identififed by the PECC report, "Inclusive, Balanced, and Sustained Growth" (2009).

The APEC region includes some of the largest services exporters in the world. However, in much of the region, the potential for services to contribute to economic growth and development has still to be realized due to a lack of transparency around regulation of services trade and investment and a general lack of knowledge of the dynamism that more efficient services can bring to national economies. The potential gains that could arise from removing barriers and facilitating all forms of services trade are beginning to be examined by researchers but are not always known and appreciated by policy-makers.

Year 2011 is a timely occasion for focusing on services in the Asia Pacific region:

  • The international economy is in the midst of a weak recovery, with economic uncertainty still prevalent in many economies, as the aftermath of the global financial crisis continues to be felt in high levels of unemployment, weak job creation, and low productivity growth.

  • Challenges to services trade policy arising from inclusion of services trade in numerous regional trade agreements are changing the complexion of governance for services, with a growing gap between regional services disciplines and levels of liberalization in the regional trade agreements and in the WTO GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services).

  • For APEC, the year 2011 will be hosted by the United States, which has placed greater services efficiency and transparency as one of its priorities for examination.

WTO Services Domestic Regulation Fact sheet

Presentations and speeches from Hong Kong conference (1-3 June 2011) 

default Publication: Services Trade: Approaches for the 21st Century (2011) (1.59 MB)


  1. Behind the border - enhancing the competitiveness of services

  2. At the border - realizing the benefits from services liberalization

  3. Improving the governance of services

Project Members

  • Christopher Findlay (University of Adelaide)

  • Jane Drake-Brockman (Australian Services Roundtable and Hong Kong Coalition of Services Industries)

  • Sherry Stephenson (Organization of American States)

  • Gloria Pasadilla (Asian Development Bank Institute)

  • Yin Fang (University of International Business and Economics, Beijing)

  • Fukunari Kimura (Keio University)

  • Raymond Atje (Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta)

  • Moon Joong Tcha (Korean Development Institute)

  • Rob Scollay (University of Auckland)