Increasing role of services in the economy has been recognized in the forest-based sector, yet the phenomenon and its possible impacts remain little studied. The forest-based sector companies operate in international markets and their products feed into a wide range of industrial activities. Increasing role of services as change in the operating environment of these companies can be expected to influence also on the upstream of the forest-based value chains, and better understanding of such developments is needed. This study analyses documents of the EU industrial policy and economic cooperation at international level from the year 2000 onwards, and asks: 1) how the increasing role of services is assessed as part of industrial development, 2) which trends and drivers are identified, and 3) whether and how the issues related to the natural resources base are addressed with regard to this phenomenon. The study concludes that instead of thinking of the increasing role of services as a trend in the external environment of the forest-based sector, it can also be assessed as a symptom of more profound changes underway in the industrial production. The recent industrial policy documents emphasize the new technology-enabled production modes that revolutionize how production, distribution and value capture can be organized. By assessing the developments only with accustomed metrics, such as number and volume of services, important opportunities and challenges may remain unrecognized for the forest-based sector. The paper concludes questions for future research to address this issue.