Brazil is Latin America’s most proficient exporter of information and communication technology services and the 18th biggest ICT services exporter in the world, according to World Bank data. The South American giant exported more than US$22.2 billion in ICT services, equivalent to 55.7% of its total services exports, each of the last few years.
Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia were the Latin America’s next biggest ICT services exporters in terms of annual balance of payments – while Mexico is likely to be exporting at a similar level but the World Bank has no reliable data available for Mexico, Ecuador or Cuba.
Although Guyana was ranked in the region’s bottom three in terms of balance of payments in 2012, it also made the top three in terms of ICT services exports as a proportion of total services exports. This disparity is a result of Guyana focusing heavily on ICT services exports but being constrained by the size of its economy and population, which are far smaller than those of most other nations in the region.
Services Innovation in Latin America
In a 2013 Inter-American Development Bank report entitled “Innovation and the New Service Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Luis Rubalcaba wrote that “The service sector has become one of the most important economic activity in the world economy in both developed and developing economies. Services are crucial for further developing the Latin American and Caribbean countries, providing a strong economic dynamism and creating the source for job creation and welfare. Service innovation is incremental for ensuring strong and competitive growth of services in the region.”
Rubalcaba noted that in Latin America “the share of services is much higher than in other developing economies and more closely resembles those in Europe and other developed economies than those in Asian or African countries.”
However, “sluggish productivity growth in the service sector has been a major constraint in Latin America, as in most European economies. The lack of productivity growth in services has had a negative effect on aggregate productivity growth in Latin America, where a structural shift toward services may continue for several decades before reaching a share typical of developed economies,” Rubalcaba added.
More countries will need to follow Brazil’s lead, then, if Latin America is to catch up with the most productive and developed regions such as Europe and North America.