The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and World Bank have called for advancement in trade negotiations for developing economies, including Nigeria. They made this call in ‘Trade in Services for Development’, a quarterly report jointly released on Monday during a virtual meeting monitored by The Guardian.
The advancement, they said, would help developing countries gain more from expanded trade and investment in services. They noted that trade, economic diversification and deeper integration provide key channels through which broader developmental aims could be pursued.
The growth of developing economies’ services exports has exceeded the global average in the past two decades. But the report said more need to be done to fully realize the contribution of services trade to development.
The publication was launched by the WTO Director-General, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the World Bank President, Ajay Banga.
“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,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
“The single best way to drive a nail into the coffin of poverty is by giving people a job, and in today’s world and 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 noted.
While heavily affected by the pandemic, services trade remains 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.
Services also generate more than two-thirds of GDP globally and represent 50 per cent of the world’s workforce in 2021, the report said, adding that services also account for 50 per cent of world trade.
‘Trade in Services for Development’, looks at how developing economies can fully share in the benefits that services trade brings to their economies and step up their development prospects. The need to deepen international cooperation on services trade, including at the WTO, to reduce the costs of trade and to facilitate and expand developing economies’ trade and investment in services are among the key messages from the publication.
“In the broader context of 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, the publication notes. Scaled-up resources are 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,” the report said.