"'Services' refers to a growing range of economic activities, such as audiovisual; construction; computer and related services; energy; express delivery; e-commerce; financial; professional (such as accounting and legal services); retail and wholesaling; transportation; tourism; and telecommunications. Services have become an important priority in U.S. trade flows and trade policy and of global trade in general, accounting for $710.6 billion of U.S. exports and 80% of U.S. jobs. The types and volume of services that can be traded, however, are limited by their intangibility (as compared to goods), the requirement for direct buyer-provider contact, and other unique characteristics. […] The United States is the world's largest exporter of services (14.3% of the global total in 2013) and the largest importer (9.8% of the global total in 2013). Rapid advances in information technology and the related growth of global value and supply chains have reduced barriers to trade in services, making an expanding range of services tradable across national borders. A number of economists have argued that 'behind the border' barriers imposed by foreign governments prevent U.S. trade in services from expanding to their full potential. […] Congress and U.S. trade negotiators face other issues, including how to balance the need for effective regulations with the objective of opening markets for trade in services; ensuring adequate and accurate data to measure trade in services to better inform trade policy; and determining whether further international cooperation efforts are needed to improve the regulatory environment for services trade beyond initial market access. This report provides background information and analysis on these and other emerging issues and U.S. international trade in services, in general. "
CRS Report for Congress, R43291
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html