This paper aims to survey India's experience with exporting services. The authors seek to show that the country's experience is unique in that modern tradable services are a significantly larger share of GDP than in other countries at comparable levels of economic development. This has not always been the case, however; India's out‐performance is limited to recent years. Policy initiatives, from trade reform to liberalization of domestic industrial and service sectors, were important for jump‐starting the process.
This paper reviews the literature and evidence. It takes a close look at the Indian service sector and specifically information‐technology‐related (IT) services, seeking to situate the growth in service exports from India in its comparative context. The authors document the role that exports of services have played in the performance of the Indian economy in recent years. They seek to pinpoint the “take‐off” in Indian services output and establish the extent to which the country's success in exporting services is exceptional from an international point of view. And they discuss the extent to which India's performance as an exporter of services has been shaped by policies liberalizing the service sector itself and by liberalization of the manufacturing sector.
Panel and country‐specific regressions for a cross section of countries point to the importance of a range of additional factors: overall economic development, communications infrastructure, access to foreign technology, and spillovers between the merchandise and service exports. Importantly, however, these factors, jointly or individually, do not wipe out the significance of a dummy variable for India. India, evidently, is a significant outlier as an exporter of services, and even more so as the period proceeds.
The paper discusses the country's major policy initiatives, such as trade reforms and liberalization of domestic industrial and service sectors, and their importance for jump‐starting the process of services growth and its exports. Regression results show that, in addition to these policies, other factors such as overall economic development, communications infrastructure, access to foreign technology, and spillovers between the merchandise and service exports were important as well.
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