The United States is the world's largest services market and was the world’s leading exporter and importer of services in 2016, reports the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in its new publication Recent Trends in U.S. Services Trade, 2018 Annual Report.
The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, compiles the report annually. Each year's report presents a qualitative and quantitative overview of U.S. trade in services and highlights some of the services sectors and geographic markets that contribute substantially to recent services trade performance.
This year’s report focuses on electronic services and includes chapters on three specific industries: audiovisual services, computer services, and telecommunication services. Each chapter analyzes global market conditions in the industry, examines recent trade performance, and summarizes the industry’s outlook.
The report describes trade in services via cross-border transactions through 2016 and via sales by and purchases from affiliates of services firms through 2015 (latest available data). Highlights include:
- In 2016, the value of U.S. cross-border commercial services exports was $733.6 billion, while imports totaled $483.1 billion. The leading markets for cross-border U.S. services exports were the UK, China, Canada, Ireland, and Japan. Similarly, the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada, and India supplied the largest single-country shares of U.S. services imports. Preliminary data also indicate that in 2017, U.S. cross-border services exports increased to $761.7 billion, while imports rose to $516.0 billion.
- In 2015, sales by foreign affiliates of U.S. services firms totaled $1.4 trillion, while purchases from U.S. affiliates of foreign services firms totaled $952.5 billion. The largest markets for sales of services by U.S.-owned foreign affiliates were the UK, Canada, and Ireland. The largest shares of purchases were from firms based in Japan, the UK, and Germany.
- Electronic services accounted for 12.7 percent ($93.4 billion) of total U.S. cross-border services exports and 11.2 percent ($54.3 billion) of imports in 2016. Foreign affiliates of U.S. electronic services firms represented 18.5 percent ($270.1 billion) of sales by U.S.-owned foreign affiliates in all industries in 2015, while U.S. affiliates of foreign electronic services firms represented 13.9 percent ($132.7 billion) of purchases from foreign-owned U.S. affiliates in all industries.
- In 2016, value added by the U.S. electronic services sector was $989 billion, and the sector accounted for 6.9 percent of U.S. private sector GDP. Electronic services accounted for a small share of total U.S. private sector employment in 2016, with 3.7 million full-time equivalent employees (3.2 percent of total private sector employment). The sector had average output per worker of $265,717, and electronic services workers earned an average wage of $106,052.
- Audiovisual services are growing rapidly worldwide, and the Chinese market is of growing interest to U.S. filmmakers, though state censorship and foreign film quotas limit market access. In emerging markets, computer services are becoming widely available via mobile devices; additionally, goods manufacturers are increasingly building computer-enabled services into their production processes. U.S. telecommunications carriers are investing in network infrastructure, connecting a growing array of devices to the internet, and entering content and advertising markets.
- The USITC hosted its 11th annual services roundtable on October 25, 2017. The discussion, summarized in the report, focused on the relationship between goods and services trade, and recent developments in the tradability of services.
Recent Trends in U.S. Services Trade, 2018 Annual Report (Investigation No. 332-345, USITC publication 4789) is available on the USITC's Internet site at http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4789.pdf.