Cross-Border Services Trade Data Available for 2010

November 22, 2011

David Moore is an economist in the Office of Trade and Industry Information within the International Trade Administration.

We talk a great deal about exports of goods, however, private services-producing industries have become an increasingly important share of the U.S. economy, rising from 48 percent of GDP in 1947 to nearly 69 percent in 2010. The largest growth sector over this period have been the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector which rose from nearly 11 percent of GDP in 1947 to more than 21 percent in 2010. Professional and business services have also risen from just 3 percent of GDP in 1947 to more than 12 percent of GDP in 2010.

Services Trends as a Percent of GDP: 1947-2010.

From 1947 to 2010, the services sector’s share of GDP has risen from 48 percent to nearly 69 percent.

From 1947 to 2010, the services sector’s share of GDP has risen from 48 percent to nearly 69 percent.

Indeed, the casual observer wouldn’t be inaccurate in concluding that the U.S. is a post-industrial, services based economy. However, it’s only relatively recently that services have become an important source of export growth as well as these services that are integral to the U.S. economy are increasingly sought out by foreign buyers overseas. In the October 2011 Survey of Current Business, the Bureau of Economic Analysis has released the latest data for services in their article “U.S. International Services: Cross-Border Trade in 2010 and Services Supplied through Affiliates in 2009.” This report shows that in 2010, the U.S. sold a record $530.3 billion in services to the world, up 8.7 percent from the $487.9 billion exported in 2009.

Cross-Border U.S. Services Trade reached an all-time high in 2010

Cross-Border U.S. Services Trade reached an all-time high in 2010

In fact, as shown in the chart to the left, the U.S. is running a significant surplus in services trade. While the U.S. exported $530.3 billion in services in 2010, U.S. services imports totaled only $368.0 billion, causing the U.S. trade surplus in services to total $162.2 billion. When comparing these services numbers and trends with the U.S. deficit on trade in goods (which climbed to $645.9 billion in 2010), the United States has consistently generated a surplus in services trade, a noteworthy detail for those businesses that want to grow their service opportunities outside the United States.

The latest presentation on U.S. Trade in Services prepared by the Office of Trade and Industry Information is on our website.


  1. Interesting post. To what extent is the service sector being pushed in comparison to manufacturing in government promotion? The post-industrial classification does trouble me, however. The need for a manufacturing base is still a key to our own security – even survival, IMHO

    • Thank you for your comment. The manufacturing sector is absolutely still an important part of the American economy. Our agency is focused on promoting U.S. interests and access for U.S. products in both goods and services. Our Office of Trade and Industry Information produces a bi-weekly publication that monitors trends in U.S. manufacturing with the Manufacturing Biweekly Update. However, data on U.S. services exports is not so readily available, so the importance and high value of U.S. services exports are often overlooked. Exports of these cross-border services are good for U.S. companies, and they’re essential in helping U.S. manufacturers be more competitive abroad. These services include financing services that help foreign entities buy U.S. products, marketing services to generate interest in U.S. products abroad, and even maintenance services that help keep high value, U.S.-made capital goods working overseas.

  2. it seems that america is no longer a production-based economy. what are the long term impacts if we have no tangible goods to export?

  3. Does the information category comprise of cross border data flows associated with cloud?

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