East Meets West: Contrasting Asian and Latin America’s Trade in Digital Services dynamics

11 June 2024
Research Seminar

Tuesday, 11 June 2024
10.00 - 11.00


The service sector accounts for over half of GDP and employment in East Asia and Latin America. It is also a crucial driver of total factor productivity growth in the economies of both regions. In addition, the past two decades showed a fast increase in digital services trade in both parts of the world, often surpassing goods trade when including services embedded in traded goods. In his presentation, Mr. Mulder will compare East Asia and Latin America’s digital services trade dynamics. Also, he will explore the impact of trade restrictions on digital services trade between 2014 and 2021, together with other barriers to the countries’ participation in this type of trade. The findings highlight the much smaller intra-regional digital service trade in Latin America compared to East Asia, diverse regulatory landscapes, and the potential benefit of reducing regulatory heterogeneity for the trade dynamics in both regions. Moreover, he will outline the benefits of regional integration in digital services, such as job creation, added value to exports, improved competitiveness, technological adaptation, and higher participation in global value chains. The study concludes that promoting intra-regional digital service trade in East Asia and Latin America is feasible through policy measures focused on reducing regulatory barriers, enhancing connectivity, and increasing skilled human resources without requiring significant financing. Moreover, more integrated regional markets would enhance both region’s performance in global digital services trade.


Johan (Nanno) Mulder is a Visiting Research Fellow at UNU-CRIS. He is also the Chief of the International Trade Unit within the Division of International Trade and Integration of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.