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Imports and exports of world services down 19.7%

The imports and exports of world services registered a contraction of 19.7% year-on-year in 2020, to 4 trillion 983,000 million dollars, according to statistics from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

On the one hand, this represents an unprecedented decline in decades globally.

On the other hand, as part of that result, the Covid-19 pandemic hit especially the countries receiving international travel.

After growing at an annual rate of 10% in 2018, imports and exports of services increased 2.1% in 2019.

In general, world exports of services are dominated mainly by travel and transport.

Until before Covid-19, trade in services increased considerably over the last decade in all categories of services.

But business performance across all service categories was uneven during 2019, with considerable growth in telecommunications and IT and professional services, moderate growth in several sectors, and declines in transportation, construction, and insurance.

While developing countries increased their share of trade in services over the past decade, developed countries remain the main exporters in all sectors except construction.

Developing countries, too, are becoming increasingly important providers of insurance and professional services.

Imports and exports

Although developed countries continue to account for the majority of services exports, export market share has shifted forward in developing countries in all sectors.

The exceptions have been government and goods-related services for which market shares have not changed significantly.

Until early 2021, imports and exports of services remained at pre-pandemic levels.

From communications to transportation, finance, education, tourism and environmental services, the service sector has become the backbone of the global economy and, even before the pandemic, developed as the most dynamic component of international trade.