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    Services are becoming a dominant driver of economic growth, both in developed and developing countries. However, awareness of the services sector's potential is still at a relatively low level. Developing countries are shifting towards services much sooner, than has been the case in the traditional development trajectory. Services can provide an alternative engine of growth, enabling latecomers to development to leapfrog the traditional manufacturing route. Meanwhile, despite strong global growth, services exports continue to make up less than 25% of world exports. The discrepancy between the size of the sector and its importance in exports points to a major untapped potential in services trade. Too few developing countries are taking advantage of new opportunities to specialize in the export of services tasks. Businesses and governments are often not aware of the opportunities or the factors that impact local competitiveness. Other reasons include the limited availability and quality of data.

    The International Trade Centre (ITC) responds to this need by building developing country export competitiveness in services. ITC's  priority focus is to bring world-class services expertise to build services enterprise competitiveness and concrete export going in ITC beneficiary countries. Supporting services exports is far from new to ITC. The focus of earlier ITC work involved a technical assistance programme to promote trade in services through assessing capacity, establishing local champions, training local stakeholders and supporting export promotion, support for GATS negotiations, for tourism promotion, including linkages to cultural and entertainment services and in developing services sector strategies. The new programme builds on prior ITC work and adds new depth. Consistent with the ITC Strategic Plan, the Trade in Services programme’s objectives are:

    • Produce and improve access to, and use of, reliable and user-friendly services-related trade intelligence, building awareness around the importance of services as a potential export driver for developing countries, including LDCs;
    • Build and strengthen trade support institutional capacity to foster an enabling business environment, to benchmark regulatory practices and to promote services exports;
    • Enhance the export readiness of services SMEs in responding to market opportunities, including in global and regional value chains; and
    • Achieve, as a cross-cutting objective, a higher level of sustainable and inclusive participation in the regional and international services economy.

    At the enterprise level, ITC provides training modules to help potential exporters understand the factors that add to and detract from competitiveness in their specific sectors, determine local shortcomings and make concerted efforts to improve performance. ITC also offers technical assistance in selected industries because of their rapidly growing importance and strong demand for ITC’s assistance from client countries.

    Initially the strategy will focus on three loose clusters of services industries, namely

    • Tourism (including Health Tourism and backward linkages to local products and services such as Creative and Cultural Services as well as Agrifood Products).
    • Transport/Logistics/Distribution and
    • IT-enabled Business Services (including Information Technology Outsourcing/Business Process Outsourcing/Knowledge Process Outsourcing).

    This initial choice reflects trends in the global export trade data and is also consistent with various demand and needs assessments carried out by ITC.

    Click on images to view full size  

    Trade in services in the global economy.jpg   ITC initial services sector focus.jpg ITC trade in services offering.jpg  

    Recent event: ITC's participation in the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) 2013

    Organized in May 2013, the International Trade Centre’s interactive seminar series on trade in services in CIFTIS highlighted key current issues and development trends of the sector and brought to the attention of business and policy stakeholders. Through the event, ITC collected feedback on how to assist in building services export excellence in developing and emerging economies, leading to growth in the sector.

    Programme and Speakers’ bios
    Photo gallery
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