The literature on productive structure and economic growth shows the relevance of industry in expanding gross domestic product (GDP) in developed and developing countries. Recent studies suggest that the modern services sector (professional services) contributes to innovation, increased productivity, and, consequently, economic growth. This paper presents a theoretical discussion on the importance of the modern services sector for Latin America in order to update the central thesis of the Latin American structuralist approach. The data suggest that even in the context of a productive transformation characterized by a fall in the share of manufacturing and the rise of the services sector, international division of labour is perpetuated, based on the centre-periphery relationship. The results show that structuralist thinking is adequate to explain the persistent underdevelopment of Latin American countries from a perspective focused on the service economy.