Export services form an increasingly essential engine for international trade.
Export services generated US$6.098 trillion from global sales during 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 22.1% increase from the $4.994 trillion worth of exported services for 2015, and a 1.5% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
The overall total for exported services is almost a third (32.5%) compared to the $18.755 trillion in globally exported products in 2019.
Galvanized by ubiquitous internet communications delivered by lightning-fast fiberoptics networks, many countries are accelerating their transition from product manufacturers into service economies. Consequently, it makes sense that those countries are increasingly marketing their products and services on international markets.
Knowing which global services are most in demand assists researchers who uncover international business opportunities.
World’s Top Export Services
Below are the top services that generated the highest dollar export sales in 2019. Also shown is each service’s change in each category’s revenue from 2018 to 2019.
Twelve of the following categories are commercial services which in aggregate represent 98.8% of the overall $6.098 trillion. Government goods and services accounts for the remaining 1.2%.
- Travel: US$1.407 trillion (down -0.9% from 2018)
- Miscellaneous business services: $1.351 trillion (up 1.7%)
- Transport: $1.011 trillion (down -1.6%)
- Telecommunications/computer/information services: $655.9 billion (up 5.4%)
- Financial services: $511.9 billion (down -0.8%)
- Intellectual property use: $406.1 billion (up 0.3%)
- Insurance/pension services: $128.3 billion (down -9.1%)
- Manufacturing on others’ physical inputs: $119.7 billion (down -6%)
- Construction: $111.2 billion (down -3%)
- Maintenance/repair services: $107 billion (up 2.6%)
- Personal, cultural, recreational services: $74.7 billion (down -1.8%)
- Government goods, services: $72.9 billion (down -3.6%)
- Unallocated services: $16.3 billion (down -35.5%)
The four increasing services categories from 2018 to 2019 were telecommunications, computer and information services (up 5.4%), maintenance and repair services (up 2.6%), miscellaneous business services (up 1.7%) and intellectual property use (up 0.3%).
Leading the decliners year over year were unallocated services (down -35.5%), insurance and pension services (down -9.1%), manufacturing on others’ physical inputs (down -6%), government goods and services (down -3.6%) and construction services (down -3%).
Export Services from the Top 20 Countries
The following 20 countries generated approaching three-quarters (72.6%) of the total value for exported services during 2019. Shown within parentheses is the overall percentage for each originating country compared to the global total.
- United States: US$875.8 billion (up 1.6% from 2018)
- United Kingdom: $416.3 billion (up 1.7%)
- Germany: $340.7 billion (down -0.7%)
- France: $287.6 billion (down -2.3%)
- China: $283.2 billion (up 4.3%)
- Netherlands: $264.1 billion (up 6.4%)
- Ireland: $239 billion (up 12.4%)
- India: $214.4 billion (up 4.6%)
- Japan: $205.1 billion (up 6%)
- Singapore: $204.8 billion (up 1.1%)
- Spain: $158.1 billion (up 1.1%)
- Italy: $122 billion (down -1.1%)
- Switzerland: $121.6 billion (down -4.1%)
- Belgium: $120.9 billion (down -2.2%)
- Luxembourg: $113.2 billion (down -1.8%)
- South Korea: $102.4 billion (up 3.4%)
- Hong Kong: $101.3 billion (down -10.5%)
- Canada: $100.3 billion (up 1.5%)
- Thailand: $82 billion (up 5.9%)
- Sweden: $76.6 billion (up 2.8%)
Expanding its international sales of services from 2018 to 2019 at the fastest pace was Ireland via its 12.4% increase. In second place was the Netherlands (up 6.4%) trailed by Japan (up 6%), Thailand (up 5.9%), India (up 4.6%) then China (up 4.3%).
Seven of the top 20 services providers experienced declines in their international revenues year over year, led by Hong Kong (down -10.5%). Other decliners were Switzerland (down -4.1%), France (down -2.3%), Belgium (down -2.2%), Luxembourg (down -1.8%), Italy (down -1.1%) and Germany (down -0.7%).
See also World’s Top Exports Report Card for Products and Countries and Report Card for Trade Surpluses and Deficits by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports. Accessed on July 15, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 15, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 15, 2020