World Trade

Trade Barriers in the Global Service Economy

Services play a crucial role in the global economy, contributing over two-thirds of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and accounting for a significant portion of foreign direct investment in advanced economies. The vast majority of workers worldwide are employed in this sector and most new jobs are created here.

The OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) provides insights into the various regulations affecting trade in services across 22 service sectors. The STRI covers all member countries of the OECD as well as several non-OECD countries, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam. These countries covered represent more than 80% of global services trade. 

The recently launched report covering 2022 shows that Japan, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the Czech Repulic displayed the lowest regulatory barriers to services trade in 2022. Indonesia, Thailand and Russia displayed the highest levels of restrictions in 2022. 

Overall, the report highlights that despite significant progress in services trade liberalization during 2022, several key sectors continue to face new barriers that limit market access and hinder competitiveness. In 2022, distribution services, sound recording, and architecture services emerged as the most liberal service sectors, while air transport services, legal services, and accounting and auditing services were identified as the most restrictive sectors, based on the average analysis across the countries studied.