UK digital services exports to hit $104 billion by 2025

The UK’s trade in digitally deliverable services is projected to climb to $104 billion by 2025, with finance, information and communication technologies (ICT) and business to business (B2B) sectors set to contribute 78 per cent of total growth.

A report compiled by Western Union and Oxford Economics forecast that the value of international, cross-border trade in services will rise from $6.1 trillion in 2019 to $8 trillion by 2025 – a 31 per cent increase in overall value.

The report's authors suggested that the adoption of new technology and digitisation of working practices are likely to further fuel post-pandemic economic recovery and growth of cross border trade in services.

The research found that amongst developed economies, the UK, US and France were set to see the largest increase in the value of cross-border trade in services by 2025.

The central forecast scenario for the report envisages a relatively strong economic recovery, but it is also possible that a more pessimistic scenario will unfold.

This would be characterised by a steeper near-term contraction and a more prolonged and incomplete recovery. Still, this scenario would only magnify the relative outperformance of digitally-deliverable services, the report concluded.

On a sector-by-sector basis, the analysis suggested that while the global economy is suffering in the short-term, trade in modern digital services will prove comparatively resilient through the current crisis.

It estimated that the value of cross-border flows of B2B, ICT and financial services will decline by just six per cent in 2020, compared to the value of goods trade, which will decline an estimated 13 per cent.

The report also analysed these trends across eight large developed economies, finding B2B services will be the main driver of export growth, with financial services also important for key hubs like the US, UK, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Outside this sample, other predicted ‘hotspots’ for digital services export growth over the medium term included Korea and Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Andrew Summerill, president of payments at Western Union, said: “For far too long the global service industry has been undervalued and its importance underestimated.

"The economic impact of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come, but we can clearly see that the regions and industries that recognise and appreciate the value of global services will be in a better position to drive future success and ultimately, recovery.”

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