GENEVA, August 6, 2013 – The World Bank and the WTO have agreed to jointly develop and maintain a database on trade in services, an area that is becoming increasingly important and yet for which little information is publicly available. The joint database covers various sectors in more than 100 countries, such as financial, transportation, tourism, retail, telecommunications, and business services, including law and accounting.
The data are presented in four modules covering: members' commitments under the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); commitments on trade in services in regional trade agreements; members' applied measures affecting trade in services; and services statistics. The first version of the database has just been launched, as part of the WTO’s Integrated Trade Intelligence Portal (I-TIP) Services portal.
Policy makers, researchers, trade negotiators, and the general public can access the database for free. Policy transparency is a public good and a shared objective of both institutions. The World Bank makes trade data publicly available under the Open Data Initiative, as does the WTO with the I-TIP.
Transparency is particularly important in the dynamic area of trade in services because the regulatory framework is complex and little information is publicly available. Cross-border trade in services makes up one-fifth of all world trade, even without considering international transactions through foreign affiliates and the temporary movement of people.
This WTO-World Bank arrangement exploits synergies between both institutions. Among other things, the joint database combines WTO data, including those on legal commitments, trade policy reviews (TPRs) or trade monitoring reports with World Bank data on applied policies from the Services Trade Restrictions Database, which went public last year. Both institutions will work hard to make sure the joint database stays up to date and expands to cover more sectors and countries.