They spoke at a session on "Services and job creation" on the opening day of the Forum - known as the GSF - in Beijing. The Forum is being staged by UNCTAD in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China, and with the Beijing Municipality
Trade in services - energy, transport, education, health, tourism and other many other services including professional services such as engineering, design work, computer programming and insurance provision - has outpaced growth in trade in merchandise in recent years, a series of experts told the meeting. If developing countries can find a way to expand their contribution to this growing sector, they have a significant chance to add to job creation. Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade and Industry of Uganda, emphasized that growth in services industries is of vital importance in Africa, where new channels for economic diversification are urgently needed.
Panelists shared national experiences demonstrating real job opportunities that are provided by services. Globally, employment in the services sector grew to represent 44 per cent of total employment in 2011, up from 39 per cent in 2000. In recent years, the panelists said, many more jobs have been created in services than in any other sector. They remarked that in 2013, unemployment around the world is estimated at more than 200 million. Furthermore, in some countries, youth unemployment is over 50 per cent. It was recalled that if unemployment is to be reduced in the wake of the global financial crisis, the sector will have to generate a major share of the new jobs that are needed.
"But to significantly boost services supply capacity we need to invest in human capital and skills to meet changing market needs," said Arvin Boolell, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration, and International Trade of Mauritius, who co-chaired the Session. "Particular attention should be given to creating opportunities for women and youth as new services jobs are generated," he added.
Panelist stressed that governments have a strategic role to play in stimulating the expansion of the services-sector and services trade. To do so they need to meet a range of challenges such as enhancing skills, building necessary infrastructure, particularly information and communication technologies (ICT), and reducing barriers to services investment and trade. Partnerships can help countries make quicker progress in many of these areas.
Technological progress in ICTs hints at the potential for job creation in the sector, speakers told the meeting. It has advanced the offshoring of various forms of services work that have become more feasible and efficient. Many services products are hence becoming more and more "tradable" and thus services markets have become more accessible to services firms in developing countries and thus a new channel for economic diversification and job creation.