U.S. Foreign Trade in Services: Definition, Patterns and Policy Challenges [Updated July 7, 2008]   [open pdf - 137KB]

From the Summary: "The term 'services' refers to a broad and widening range of economic activities such as accounting and legal services, banking, transportation, tourism, and telecommunications. Services are a significant sector of the U.S. economy, accounting for almost 70% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and for over 80% of U.S. civilian employment. Services have become an important element of U.S. foreign trade, consistently generating surpluses. The European Union is by far the most important U.S. trade partner in services, accounting for more than 50% of U.S. trade in services. […] The Congress will have a number of trade agreements to consider, and services will be an important part of the deliberations. An overview of barriers, of the disputes in services trade and of the rapidly changing characteristics of the services sector, suggest that the negotiations and the agreements they produce will become increasingly complex. The United States presses its trading partners to liberalize their services sector as much as possible, because U.S. services providers are very competitive in world markets. However, to accomplish its objectives, the United States is pressed by its partners to make concessions that might adversely affect 'import-sensitive' industries in the United States. U.S. negotiators and, ultimately, Congress will have to judge whether the agreements strike an appropriate balance for U.S. interests. This report will be updated as events warrant."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31579
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