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This paper analyses the current development in trade in services in South Asia. South Asia’s language heritage, strong traditions of higher education, computer savvy diaspora and embrace of modern telecom infrastructure, have all contributed to services being a large part of the region’s GDP, with an increasing contribution to their export baskets. Countries in South Asia have formulated aggressive policies to promote the development of trade in services, with a focus on Information Technology and Communication, Professional services, Tourism and Travel, and Healthcare services. It was found that each country in the region has targeted specific niche markets to develop and to increase global exports and outreach. While some countries have formulated ‘Vision Documents” for their economy, others have devised specialized programs for “Priority Sectors”. This study divides the general policy themes under specific categories: (i) Skill development programs, (ii) nation-wide connectivity and digitization plans, (iii) initiatives to boost technology and entrepreneurship, with a focus on start-ups and intellectual property rights (IPRs), (iv) and export and brand promotion policies. This paper then highlights the best practices in the region and provides recommendations to develop a more competitive services sector. This research was undertaken to obtain an in-depth analysis of current policy making to promote the development of services for domestic and trade purposes, as well as assessing the impact of these policy tools. Such findings were primarily based on desk-based research from publicly available information sources combined with discussions with key stakeholders as well as an informed interpretation of the findings.

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