Service industries account for over two-thirds of U.S. GDP and four out of five private-sector U.S. jobs. In 2019, U.S. cross-border exports of services measured $876 billion and generated a surplus of $287 billion. Foreign affiliates of U.S. companies generated an additional $1.7 trillion in sales in 2018 (most recent data available), bringing foreign sales of services by U.S. companies to more than $2.5 trillion.
Whether in telecommunications, financial services, computer services, distribution and logistics, business services, audiovisual services, or any other services sector, services trade enhances competition and innovation, lowers costs, and improves choice and quality for consumers and businesses.
Although services are not subject to tariffs, they are subject to trade barriers such as nationality and local presence requirements, or opaque or arbitrary regulatory processes. These barriers severely limit the services export potential of U.S. suppliers.
USTR’s work to promote open and transparent services trade takes many forms, including through:
• U.S. free trade agreements (Cross-Border Trade in Services and Financial Services chapters)
• Covered Agreements relating to insurance and reinsurance (co-lead with U.S. Treasury Department)
• The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) at the WTO
• Other international organizations, including the OECD and APEC.
USTR’s work specifically focused on ICT Services and Digital Trade is described here.