Trade in business services
Data extracted in May-June 2017
Planned article update: November 2019
In 2014, almost two fifths of EU sales by the software publishing sector were generated from clients residing in other EU countries.
In 2014, the EU computer programming and consultancy services sector recorded highest levels of sales generated from clients residing in other EU countries.
Globalisation patterns in EU trade and investment is an online Eurostat publication presenting a summary of recent European Union (EU) statistics on economic aspects of globalisation, focusing on patterns of EU trade and investment.
The business services sector can be viewed as providing key inputs in the production of other goods and services. As such, it makes an important contribution to the fortunes of the whole EU-28 economy, promoting competitiveness and growth. The business services sector has expanded in recent years: this growth has been underpinned by the development of new services and more specialised tasks (including the management of supply chains and international production networks), but also reflects increased levels of outsourcing to external suppliers. These changes have provided a stimulus for the business services sector to become increasingly global in nature. Furthermore, technological changes have allowed smaller businesses to enter niche markets where previously they may have lacked the scale to trade internationally.
This article provides an analysis of the turnover (sales) of EU-28 enterprises in the business services sector, according to the residence of their clients — information is presented for clients residing in the reporting country, for clients residing in another EU Member State, and for clients residing in a non-member country, in other words, outside the EU.
Analysis of turnover for selected business services
In 2014, almost two fifths of EU-28 sales by the software publishing sector were generated from clients residing in other countries
Figure 1 shows the proportion of business services turnover in 2014 that was accounted for by these three different sets of clients. For each of the business services shown, a majority of the EU-28’s turnover was realised by sales to clients from the reporting country (in other words, from clients residing in the domestic economy). This pattern was particularly evident for employment services and some specific professional services, whereas clients resident in other countries accounted for a higher share of total sales for activities such as computer services. Such disparities may be linked to the tradability of various services, the different modes for trading services, or barriers to entry which prevent/restrict trade in some business services.
In 2014, 95.0 % of the sales made by EU-28 employment activities were to clients from the reporting country; by contrast, the proportion of total turnover accounted for by domestic clients fell to 60.4 % for software publishing activities. Among those activities recording relatively high shares of EU-28 sales being derived from clients residing abroad, the share of turnover that was attributed to clients from other EU Member States was generally higher than that from clients residing in non-member countries. For example, close to one fifth of the total turnover generated in software publishing (21.6 %) and in market research and public opinion polling (19.2 %) was accounted for by clients residing in other EU Member States. The highest shares of turnover being realised among clients residing outside the EU-28 were recorded for engineering activities and related consultancy (20.8 %) and software publishing (18.1 %).
Ranking of the turnover generated by selected business services
In 2014, the EU-28 computer programming and consultancy services sector recorded highest levels of sales generated from clients residing in other EU Member States
Looking in more detail at developments across the individual EU Member States, Table 1 shows a ranking of the turnover generated by selected business services, according to the residence of clients. In 2014, German computer programming and consultancy enterprises recorded the highest value of business services sales to clients residing in another EU Member State (EUR 10.1 billion). The same activity — computer programming and consultancy — also accounted for the second to fifth highest value of sales, as made by British, French, Spanish and Italian enterprises.
Concerning sales to clients residing outside the EU, the highest level of turnover was generated once again by German computer programming and consultancy services (EUR 10.2 billion), while British computer programming and consultancy enterprises had the fourth highest level of sales to non-member countries. Aside from these, the top five ranking featured a wider range of activities, with a high value of sales to clients residing outside the EU among British enterprises engaged in engineering activities and related consultancy and legal activities and French enterprises engaged in engineering activities and related consultancy.
While the rankings of overall turnover are unsurprisingly dominated by some of the largest EU Member States, the second half of the table presents relative measures based on the proportion of national turnover that was generated by clients from abroad. In 2014, more than two thirds (68.7 %) of all sales made in Lithuania by market research and public opinion polling enterprises was derived from clients residing in other EU Member States; an identical share was recorded for Dutch software publishing enterprises.
The share of total turnover that was generated from clients residing in non-member countries peaked at 92.5 % for Cypriot market research and public opinion polling enterprises; the only time a majority of sales were generated from clients residing outside the EU-28. The next highest shares were recorded for accounting, auditing and tax consultancy services in Cyprus (43.3 % of their turnover was generated from clients resident in a non-member country) and architectural activities in Portugal (where clients resident in a non-member country accounted for 41.1 % of sales).
Source data for tables and graphs
- Business services statistics (ESMS metadata file — bs_esms)