The services sector has emerged as the largest segment in and driving force of the economy, contributing a growing share to gross domestic product (GDP), trade and employment. Opportunities for structural transformation created by the rising services economy are huge, notably derived from rapid technological developments and the digital economy.
The sector contributes to productivity and economy-wide growth, as it provides essential inputs to other products and services. Many sectors have emerged as promising tradable services for developing countries, particularly with the development of telecommunications and information and communications technology (ICT) services.
In addition, efficient services are catalysts for the expansion of regional and global value chains. Many services activities with important social functions – in health, finance, energy, transport and telecommunications – are indispensable to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Achieving many of the Goals and targets depends on universal access to basic and infrastructure services, suggesting the critical importance of infrastructure services sectors (ISS) in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Given the multifaceted contribution of services, there is a significant opportunity for countries to explore a services-driven growth and development strategy.
This is the third survey by UNCTAD to take stock of the regulatory environment in key infrastructure services, with the goal of ascertaining regulatory and institutional best practices, and challenges faced by regulators in developed, developing and least developed countries.
In 2009, UNCTAD conducted a survey as part of its follow-up work on the recommendations of the first session of the Multi-year Expert Meeting on Services, Development and Trade: the Regulatory and Institutional Dimension, held in Geneva from 17 to 19 March 2009.
A follow-up second survey was launched in 2010 to ascertain specific trade-related challenges faced by regulators and the regulatory and institutional practices which can promote development gains associated with trade in ISS.1 The third survey focusses on regulatory coherence and international cooperation.
This report aims to present and analyse the findings of the third survey.