Asian Service Industry


Strengthening labour-intensive services can help developing Asia pursue inclusive, sustainable growth. Figures from Asian Development Outlook ADO (2012-13) special Chapter, Services and Asia’s Future Growth, underscore the Service Sector’s potential for reducing poverty across the region.

48.5%: The Service Sector accounted for about half of developing Asia’s output in 2010.

Three-fifth or more: Services’ contribution to economic growth has been higher in South Asia than in other sub regions of developing Asia. In India, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, some 60% of the growth in 2000-2010 came from services.

43%: Services’ share in the growth of manufacturing-oriented People’s Republic of China in 2000-2010.

34%: The share of the Asian labour force engaged in services. The services sector’s share of employment has grown by 10 to 20 percentage points in most countries in developing Asia in the past 2 decades.

More than 50%: In 1990, services accounted for over half of employment in only two economies -- Hong Kong, China and Singapore -- but now this is the case for (in descending order) the Republic of Korea; the Maldives; Malaysia; Taipei, China; Kazakhstan; and the Philippines.

Less than one-fifth: Labour productivity in services in most Asian countries compared with productivity levels in OECD countries. Some countries may take up to 30 years to reach the OECD benchmark.

10%: High-value modern services, such as ICT, finance, and professional business services, account for less than 10% of Asia’s service economy, well below the 20 to 25% in advanced economies.

In ADO 2012 Update, Service Sector development is identified as being crucial because of:
  • Raising the productivity of industry and the rest of the economy
  • Supporting greater inclusiveness
  • Diversifying production to offset stalling demand for merchandise exports
  • Taking advantage of opportunities in the foreign trade of services
Economy Service Exports/Services, Value Added
1990 2000 2009
China 5.2 6.5 6.0
Hong Kong - 28.1 46.7
India 3.7 7.8 13.0
Indonesia 5.2 8.2 7.3
Korea 8.6 11.5 16.1
Malaysia 20.6 34.5 32.2
Pakistan 8.2 3.9 4.8
Philippines 16.8 8.1 11.9
Singapore 51.0 49.7 75.6
Thailand 15.0 23.1 25.2
Vietnam - 22.4 15.3