A Service to the Economy: Removing Barriers to “Invisible Trade”

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Although they are part of a large and growing segment of worldtrade-and a prominent feature in healthy, vibranteconomies-services are often overlooked in trade negotiations infavor of higher-profile trade in agriculture and manufacturedgoods. Yet countries with more open services markets benefit fromhigher growth rates and living standards. Because services are aninput to most other sectors of the economy, the benefits from openand competitive markets are pervasive. Indeed, the gains fromlowering remaining trade barriers in services would eclipse thegains from trade liberalization in agriculture and manufacturing.The recently derailed Doha round of global trade talks seem to haveput globally coordinated efforts towards liberalizing servicestrade on the back burner for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, the United States does not have to wait for anegotiated trade agreement to benefit from a more open trade inservices. The United States should continue to press other nations,including developing countries, to open their markets to Americanservice providers, while removing unwieldy restrictions at home. Byautonomously reducing the remaining barriers on maritime services,rail and air transportation services, distribution services, andrestrictions on the temporary entry of workers from abroad, many ofthe benefits to American consumers and industry will be realizedregardless of what other nations choose to do.