Measuring the Cost of International Trade in Services
We present a new dataset of international trade costs in services sectors. Using a theory-based methodology combined with data on domestic shipments and cross-border trade, we find that trade costs in services are much higher than in goods sectors: a multiple of two to three times in many cases. Trade costs in services have remained relatively steady over the last ten years, whereas trade costs in goods have fallen overall at an impressive rate. We also present two examples of the ways in which our dataset could be used in future work. First, we examine the impact of regional trade agreements on trade costs in services. Although we find that intrabloc trade costs are lower than those facing outside countries, the differential is usually quite small for services, and in some cases has even been narrowing over time. This finding accords with the observation that because service sector reform is about re-regulation, “preferential” agreements tend to involve less discrimination than in goods markets. Second, we show for the first time that services sectors with lower trade costs tend to be more productive, and experience faster productivity growth. This result lines up well with the evidence from goods markets.