Multi-year Expert Meeting on Trade, Services and Development, fifth session

18 - 20 July 2017
Palais des Nations
, Switzerland

The role of the services economy and trade in structural transformation and inclusive development

The objective of the multi-year expert meeting is to provide enhanced understanding on the potential of the services economy and trade, particularly infrastructure services, for economic transformation, growth, poverty eradication and job creation, and on the multidimensional importance of these linkages as levers for achieving inclusive and sustainable development. It will aim at providing tools for participants to identify best-fit, coherent and comprehensive services policy, regulatory and institutional approaches and to engage in trade negotiations and international cooperation at the multilateral and regional levels, which enable the development potential of services.

To pursue these objectives, the multi-year expert meeting provides a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and cooperation, and in particular for facilitating an exchange of views and lessons learned between policymakers, trade negotiators and regulators.

To focus on the policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks for the development of the services sector, including infrastructure services, the session will build on the discussions undertaken and the recommendations made during previous sessions of the Multi-year Expert Meetings on Trade, Services and Development (between 2009 and 2016).

This session will examine practices and experiences on the role of the services economy and trade, particularly of infrastructure services, in leading structural transformation and the coherence of policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks. It will focus on how these mechanisms promote productive and export capacity and are conducive to resulting in structural transformation consistent with competitiveness, diversification and value chain participation and upgrading, inclusive and sustainable development aspirations.

Services have a multi-dimensional importance for development. Services trade has been more dynamic and resilient than trade in goods; it promotes higher education and wages and favours greater participation of women and youth. Services have a linkage creation and coordination role of production processes, with infrastructure services (e.g. financial, telecommunication and information and communications technology, energy and transport services) providing the backbone of the economy and the means for different activities to interact. Services are input providers and can expand productivity and export capacity, including that of microenterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises.

By interacting with all economic sectors, and by promoting their efficiency and competitiveness, services can change economic structure. This structural transformation can promote diversification and upgrading aspirations. Lessons can be learned from country experiences for the identification of practices in harvesting this potential through sound and evidence-based policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks, including to address domestic supply-side constraints and to establish coherence between several policy areas, as well as between these domestic policy areas and trade liberalization. The importance of services for development is recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Input from Experts

Experts nominated by member States are encouraged to submit brief papers (approximately 5-12 pages) as contributions to the work of the meeting. The papers will be made available at the meeting in the form and language in which they are received.

Papers should be submitted to the UNCTAD secretariat in advance of the meeting, addressed to Ms. Mina Mashayekhi and with a copy to Mr. Taisuke Ito, Mr. Bruno Antunes and Mr. Aurangzeb Butt, Palais des Nations, CH-1211, Switzerland; fax: 41 22 917 0044; e mail:,, and

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14 Jul 2017
18 Jul 2017
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on 18–20 July 2017
(TD/B/C.I/MEM.4/15) -  05 Sep 2017
(TD/B/C.I/MEM.4/INF.5) -  24 Aug 2017
(TD/B/C.I/MEM.4/13) -  22 May 2017  -  Agenda item 2 
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18 Jul 2017

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Communications concerning representation:
UNCTAD secretariat
Intergovernmental Support Service
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Fax: 41 22 917 0214