Non-traditional services and knowledge-based services have taught positive lessons to PA governments and businesses alike during the 2020 pandemic. Notwithstanding the tremendous hit that traditional services — tourism, hospitality, passenger transport, and travel — have experienced due to the government measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Similarly to the 2008 GFC, knowledge-based services have proved their resilience and ability to adjust to the new environment during the pandemic.
Services sectors in the PA countries have been vital in supporting government measures on mobility restrictions, social distancing and the closure of non-essential shops. While telemedicine, IT services, and the use of big data have helped PA countries in the management of health and sanitary risks, telecommunication services have been the backbone to support work-from-home (WFM) not only for businesses but also for government institutions.
The dynamism and productivity of the knowledge-based services sectors not only continues but in some industries such as call centres and other BPO services increased during the COVID-19 lock-down. New business models have either emerged or sped up their evolution, thanks to the mandatory use of digital platforms to operate. An example of these changes is the increase in the microsourcing of education, professional, and personal training services through digitalisation, despite persistent challenges for Internet access and capabilities. Demand for audiovisual contents, animation services, entertainment and online gaming services, and digital services in support of e-commerce —shopping carts, online catalogues, electronic payment platforms etc — increased in the last five months.
In this regional context, the lack of a regional policy to promote knowledge-based services trade and investment has become more apparent.
The services sector is crying for a regional policy and strategies within the PA that could contribute to delivering results on the goals set in the Pacific Alliance 2030 Vision. Doubling and consolidating intra-regional services exports demand more robust and long-term regional strategies that are non-existent today.