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Research and Analysis

ublications and research papers drawing upon the Services Trade Restrictions database are requested to cite it appropriately. Depending on the specific use, the citation should be to either one or both of the following papers:

Researchers are also encouraged to supply us with the title, full citation and, where feasible, the electronic versions of any publications, research papers, or educational materials that make use of the database or documentation. These may be, if the authors wish, posted in the research segment of the website. The material will be gratefully received at servicestrade@worldbank.org.


Below is the list of papers and notes that have been written drawing upon the information provided by the Services Trade Restrictions database:


  • Borchert, Ingo, Batshur Gootiiz and Aaditya Mattoo (2012), “Guide to the Services Trade Restrictions Database”, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper (WPS6108). Link

Abstract. A new Services Trade Restrictions Database collects and makes publicly available information on services trade policy assembled in a comparable manner across 103 countries, five sectors (telecommunications, finance, transportation, retail and professional services) and the key modes of service supply. It contains richly textured policy information as well as a preliminary quantification of policy measures. This paper is a guide to the database, and provides a description of the data, how it was collected, how policy information was quantified, and how the data are presented in the publicly available, interactive Web database. The database is best seen as a first response to the strong demand for better information from policy-makers, negotiators, researchers and the private sector. Even in its present version, the database can play an important role in advancing policy reform by facilitating the analysis of services policies, informing international negotiations by providing data on actual policies, and provoking dialogue and refinements by making information on policies publicly available. Through feedback from various interested parties, the database may evolve into a collectively created public good.


  • Borchert, Ingo, Batshur Gootiiz and Aaditya Mattoo (2012), "Policy Barriers To International Trade in Services: New Empirical Evidence", World Bank Policy Research Working Paper (WPS6109). Link

Abstract. Surprisingly little is known about policies that affect international trade in services. Previous analyses have focused on policy commitments made by countries in international agreements but these commitments do not in many cases reflect actual policy. This paper describes a new initiative to collect comparable information on services trade policies for 103 countries, across a range of service sectors and the relevant modes of service delivery. The resultant database reveals interesting patterns in policy. Across regions, some of the fastest growing countries in Asia and the oil-rich Gulf states have the most restrictive policies in services, whereas some of the poorest countries are remarkably open. Across sectors, professional and transportation services are among the most protected in both industrial and developing countries, while retail, telecommunications and even finance tend to be more open. An illustrative set of results suggests that trade policies matter for investment flows and access to services. In particular, restrictions on foreign acquisitions, discrimination in licensing, restrictions on the repatriation of earnings and lack of legal recourse all have a significant and sizable negative effect, reducing the expected value of sectoral foreign investment by $2.2 billion over a 7-year period, compared with "open" policy regimes. In terms of access to services, credit as a share of gross domestic product is on average 3.3 percentage points lower in countries with major restrictions on the establishment of foreign banks as compared with those that only impose operational restrictions.


  • Borchert, Ingo, Batshur Gootiiz and Aaditya Mattoo, "Services in Doha: What’s on the Table?" World Bank and CEPR book "Unfinished Business? The WTO’s Doha Agenda", page 115-143. Link

Abstract. Most services liberalisation has been undertaken unilaterally. In Chapter 5, Ingo Borchert, Batshur Gootiiz and Aaditya Mattoo analyze a broad sample of 93 countries and find that, in all regions of the world, actual policy is substantially more liberal than the policy commitments (bindings) made by WTO members in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) during the Uruguay Round. The latter are, on average, 2.3 times more restrictive than currently applied policies, ie countries could more than double their average levels of restrictiveness without violating their commitments. As they stand today, the Doha offers do not provide any liberalisation of actual policy.3 Furthermore, two of the currently most protected areas, cross-border transport and the movement of individual professionals, are either not being negotiated at all, or not with any degree of seriousness. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Hong Kong Ministerial had set out ambitious goals for services, but the analysis here shows that much remains to be done to achieve them.


  • Borchert, Ingo, Batshur Gootiiz, Arti Grover and Aaditya Mattoo (2012), "Landlocked or Policy Locked? How Services Trade Protection Deepens Economic Isolation". World Bank Policy Research Working Paper (WPS5942). Link

Abstract. A new cross-country database on services policy reveals a perverse pattern: many landlocked countries restrict trade in the very services that connect them with the rest of the world. On average, telecommunications and air-transport policies are significantly more restrictive in landlocked countries than elsewhere. The phenomenon is most starkly visible in Sub-Saharan Africa and is associated with lower levels of political accountability. We find evidence that these policies lead to more concentrated market structures and more limited access to services than these countries would otherwise have, even after taking into account the influence of geography and incomes, and the possibility that policy is endogenous. Even moderate liberalization in these sectors could lead to an increase of cellular subscriptions by 7 percentage points and a 20 percent increase in the number of flights. Policies in other countries, industrial and developing alike, also limit competition in international transport services. Hence, "trade-facilitating" investments under various "aid-for-trade" initiatives are likely to earn a low return unless they are accompanied by meaningful reform in these services sectors.