ecoglobe What are Services?
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"Services" - and the transition to a services-based society - are frequently advanced as a way to make our economies more environmentally-friendly or sustainable. It is also being put forward to counter the demand to stop economic growth and to reduce the size our resource-depleting econonomy, i.e. to reduce our GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Services are far from being immaterial and many services are very resource-intensive, as can be seen from the below two boxes. One is description and the other is an official document from the WTO (World Trade Organisation).

Services are "immaterial" only in the sense that the buyer does not become the owner of the product, such as education, advice, transportation, television, utilities, etc. But buying a service always means consuming resources - directly through the equipment that is used and indirectly since the price of the service finances the lifestyles of the service provider. The seller can fly a private jet or ride bicycle.

Therefore the people (and economists) who are claiming that we can continue to grow because we are moving to a service economy, which would thereby dematerialise and reduce our human pressure on the environment, are deluding and misleading the public. Some economists dispute the definition of services, claiming that they don't count transportation etc. to this group. This is a cheap cop-out to avoid admitting that the transition to services does not reduce our environmental impact.
Box 1. Services definition [p. 7 & 8]

The term services covers a heterogeneous range of intangible products and activities that are difficult to encapsulate within a simple definition. Services are also often difficult to separate from goods with which they may be associated in varying degrees.

The present Manual generally respects the 1993 SNA use of the term services, which is defined as follows: “Services are not separate entities over which ownership rights can be established. They cannot be traded separately from their production. Services are heterogeneous outputs produced to order and typically consist of changes in the condition of the consuming units realised by the activities of the producers at the demand of the customers. By the time their production is completed they must have been provided to the consumers.”

However, the 1993 SNA then qualifies this relatively simple definition as follows: “There is a group of industries, generally classified as service industries, that produce outputs that have many of the characteristics of goods, i.e., those concerned with the provision, storage, communication and dissemination of information, advice and entertainment in the broadest sense of those terms––the production of general or specialized information, news, consultancy reports, computer programs, movies, music, etc. The outputs of these industries, over which ownership rights may be established, are often stored on physical objects––paper, tapes, disks, etc.––that can be traded like ordinary goods. Whether characterized as goods or services, these products possess the essential characteristic that they can be produced by one unit and supplied to another, thus making possible division of labour and the emergence of markets.”

The 1993 SNA recommends the use of CPC for the classification of products or outputs of industry. Services are classified using sections 5 through 9 of CPC, Version 1.0. The 1993 SNA recommends the use of ISIC, Rev.3 for the classification of industry. In practice, service industries (or activities) are taken to be those in sections G through Q of ISIC, Rev.3. In BPM5, the concept of services is, in principle, essentially that of the 1993 SNA, but for practical measurement reasons international trade in services between residents and non-residents includes some trade in goods, such as those bought by travellers and those purchased by embassies. On the other hand, under certain circumstances international trade in goods may indistinguishably include such service charges as insurance, maintenance contracts, transport charges, royalty payments and packaging.

Examples of service activities are wholesale, retail, certain kinds of repair, hotel, catering, transport, postal, telecommunication, financial, insurance, real estate, property rental, computer-related, research, professional, marketing and other business support, government, education, health, social, sanitation, community, audiovisual, recreational, cultural, personal, and domestic services.
Source: 8725
box 2
World Trade




10 July 1991
 source: mtn_gns_w_120_e.doc 8725
and 3 July 2009

Special Distribution


Note by the Secretariat

The secretariat indicated in its informal note containing the draft classification list (24 May 1991) that it would prepare a revised version based on comments from participants. The attached list incorporates, to the extent possible, such comments. It could, of course, be subject to further modification in the light of developments in the services negotiations and ongoing work elsewhere.




A. Professional Services
a. Legal Services 861
b. Accounting, auditing and bookeeping services 862
c. Taxation Services 863
d. Architectural services 8671
e. Engineering services 8672
f. Integrated engineering services 8673
g. Urban planning and landscape 8674
architectural services
h. Medical and dental services 9312
i. Veterinary services 932
j. Services provided by midwives, nurses,
physiotherapists and para-medical personnel 93191
k. Other
B. Computer and Related Services
a. Consultancy services related to the 841
installation of computer hardware
b. Software implementation services 842
c. Data processing services 843
d. Data base services 844
e. Other 845+849
C. Research and Development Services
a. R&D services on natural sciences 851
b. R&D services on social sciences and humanities 852
c. Interdisciplinary R&D services 853
D. Real Estate Services
a. Involving own or leased property 821
b. On a fee or contract basis 822
E. Rental/Leasing Services without Operators
a. Relating to ships 83103
b. Relating to aircraft 83104
c. Relating to other transport equipment 83101+83102+ 83105
d. Relating to other machinery and equipment 83106-83109
e. Other 832
F. Other Business Services
a. Advertising services 871
b. Market research and public opinion 864
polling services
c. Management consulting service 865
d. Services related to man. consulting 866
e. Technical testing and analysis serv. 8676
f. Services incidental to agriculture, hunting and 881
g. Services incidental to fishing 882
h. Services incidental to mining 883+5115
i. Services incidental to manufacturing 884+885
(except for 88442)
j. Services incidental to energy distribution 887
k. Placement and supply services of Personnel 872
l. Investigation and security 873
m. Related scientific and technical consulting 8675
n. Maintenance and repair of equipment
(not including maritime vessels, aircraft 633+
or other transport equipment) 8861-8866
o. Building-cleaning services 874
p. Photographic services 875
q. Packaging services 876
r. Printing, publishing 88442
s. Convention services 87909*
t. Other 8790

A. Postal services 7511
B. Courier services 7512
C. Telecommunication services
a. Voice telephone services 7521
b. Packet-switched data transmission services 7523**
c. Circuit-switched data transmission services 7523**
d. Telex services 7523**
e. Telegraph services 7522
f. Facsimile services 7521**+7529**
g. Private leased circuit services 7522**+7523**
h. Electronic mail 7523**
i. Voice mail 7523**
j. On-line information and data base retrieval 7523**
k. electronic data interchange (EDI) 7523**
l. enhanced/value-added facsimile services, incl. 7523**
store and forward, store and retrieve
m. code and protocol conversion n.a.
n. on-line information and/or data
processing (incl.transaction processing) 843**
o. other
D. Audiovisual services
a. Motion picture and video tape production and 9611
distribution services
b. Motion picture projection service 9612
c. Radio and television services 9613
d. Radio and television transmission services 7524
e. Sound recording n.a.
f. Other
E. Other
A. General construction work for buildings 512
B. General construction work for civil engineering 513
C. Installation and assembly work 514+516
D. Building completion and finishing work 517
E. Other 511+515+518

A. Commission agents' services 621
B. Wholesale trade services 622
C. Retailing services 631+632
D. Franchising 8929
E. Other
A. Primary education services 921
B. Secondary education services 922
C. Higher education services 923
D. Adult education 924
E. Other education services 929
A. Sewage services 9401
B. Refuse disposal services 9402
C. Sanitation and similar services 9403
D. Other

A. All insurance and insurance-related services 812**
a. Life, accident and health insurance services 8121
b. Non-life insurance services 8129
c. Reinsurance and retrocession 81299*
d. Services auxiliary to insurance (including
broking and agency services) 8140

B. Banking and other financial services
(excl. insurance)
a. Acceptance of deposits and other repayable funds 81115-81119
from the public
b. Lending of all types, incl., inter alia, consumer 8113
credit, mortgage credit, factoring and financing of
commercial transaction
c. Financial leasing 8112
d. All payment and money transmission services 81339**
e. Guarantees and commitments 81199**
f. Trading for own account or for account of customers,
whether on an exchange, in an over-the-counter
market or otherwise, the following:
- money market instruments (cheques, bills, 81339**
certificate of deposits, etc.)
- foreign exchange 81333
- derivative products incl., but not limited to, 81339**
futures and options
- exchange rate and interest rate instruments, 81339**
inclu. products such as swaps, forward rate agreements, etc.
- transferable securities 81321*
- other negotiable instruments and financial 81339**
assets, incl. bullion
g. Participation in issues of all kinds of 8132
securities, incl. under-writing and placement
as agent (whether publicly or privately) and
provision of service related to such issues
h. Money broking 81339**
i. Asset management, such as cash or portfolio 8119+**
management, all forms of collective 81323*
investment management, pension fund
management, custodial depository and
trust services
j. Settlement and clearing services for financial 81339**
assets, incl. securities, derivative products, or 81319**
and other negotiable instruments
k. Advisory and other auxiliary financial 8131
services on all the activities listed in or 8133
Article 1B of MTN.TNC/W/50, incl. credit
reference and analysis, investment and
portfolio research and advice, advice on
acquisitions and on corporate restructuring and strategy
l. Provision and transfer of financial information, 8131
and financial data processing and related
software by providers of other financial services
C. Other
(other than those listed under 1.A.h-j.)
A. Hospital services 9311
B. Other Human Health Services 9319
(other than 93191)
C. Social Services 933
D. Other
A. Hotels and restaurants (incl. catering) 641-643
B. Travel agencies and tour operators services 7471
C. Tourist guides services 7472
D. Other
(other than audiovisual services)
A. Entertainment services (including theatre, live
bands and circus services) 9619
B. News agency services 962
C. Libraries, archives, museums and other
cultural services 963
D. Sporting and other recreational services 964
E. Other
A. Maritime Transport Services
a. Passenger transportation 7211
b. Freight transportation 7212
c. Rental of vessels with crew 7213
d. Maintenance and repair of vessels 8868**
e. Pushing and towing services 7214
f. Supporting services for maritime transport 745**
B. Internal Waterways Transport
a. Passenger transportation 7221
b. Freight transportation 7222
c. Rental of vessels with crew 7223
d. Maintenance and repair of vessels 8868**
e. Pushing and towing services 7224
f. Supporting services for internal waterway 745**
C. Air Transport Services
a. Passenger transportation 731
b. Freight transportation 732
c. Rental of aircraft with crew 734
d. Maintenance and repair of aircraft 8868**
e. Supporting services for air transport 746
D. Space Transport 733
E. Rail Transport Services
a. Passenger transportation 7111
b. Freight transportation 7112
c. Pushing and towing services 7113
d. Maintenance and repair of rail transport equipment 8868**
e. Supporting services for rail transport services 743
F. Road Transport Services
a. Passenger transportation 7121+7122
b. Freight transportation 7123
c. Rental of commercial vehicles with operator 7124
d. Maintenance and repair of road transport 6112+8867
e. Supporting services for road transport services 744
G. Pipeline Transport
a. Transportation of fuels 7131
b. Transportation of other goods 7139
H. Services auxiliary to all modes of transport
a. Cargo-handling services 741
b. Storage and warehouse services 742
c. Freight transport agency services 748
d. Other 749
I. Other Transport Services
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