Trade in services came on the policy scene in the 1980s. It played an important role in reforming telecom sectors across the world, especially because of the Regulatory Reference Paper that was an integral part of the Basic Telecom Services agreement. Trade agreements are simply one more element used to lock in regulatory commitment, thus facilitating investment and thereby good performance.
The famous story about how one can trade hair-cutting services across borders illustrates the connection with ICTs. How can one trade hair cuts, a service that is consumed at the moment of production? Multiple ways:
Mode 1. Using a robot in Country B that is controlled by the hair cutting professional in Country A. Use of telecom.
Mode 2. Person wishing to get hair cut, goes to salon in Country A, after making appointment, using telecom
Mode 3. Hair cutting salon in Country A, establishes a branch in Country B. Telecom used in controlling the branch.
Mode 4. Hair cutters from Country A travel to Country B to cut hair. Coordination uses telecom.
Franchise operations, selling of support services for hair cutting etc. fill out the list.
Anyway, a debate is raging on trade in services in Sri Lanka, albeit in a peculiar form. No politician speaks to the subject. Government officials agree to speak but never turn up. The Director of the think tank that has done funded research on the subject is waiting for the government to announce its position before he speaks. So if not for a few people like me who have a personal interest in the subject, the ground would be ceded completely to the demagogues.
I spoke on the subject yesterday at an event organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sri Lanka. The slides are at Samarajiva_ICASL_July10 .
Because the government officials reneged on their commitments, I chose to provide a workaround, a slideset presented by the government think tank just before the CEPA was to be signed originally.