Source: WTO News
Headline: Participants in domestic regulation talks conclude text negotiations, on track for MC12 deal
The disciplines seek to ensure that domestic regulation procedures for trade in services are clear, predictable and transparent and do not unnecessarily restrain trade. Flexibilities are envisaged to help governments apply the measures and regulate based on their national policy objectives and levels of development.
In the negotiated text, participants agreed to include a provision on non-discrimination between men and women in the context of authorization procedures for service suppliers. This will be the first provision of its kind in a WTO negotiated outcome. Participants further agreed to an optional section with a set of disciplines on financial services, and to a maximum transitional period of seven years for developing countries that need more time to implement individual disciplines for specific services sectors. The text is available here.
The coordinator invited participants to submit updated draft schedules of commitments by 29 October to help finalize the negotiations by MC12, which is to be held from 30 November to 3 December. These schedules will reflect how each government aims to incorporate the disciplines into its WTO services schedules of specific commitments. A total of 34 indicative schedules of commitments have been submitted to the WTO so far, covering 60 WTO members.
Mr Coghi said he will consult with participants on a ministerial document noting the conclusion of the negotiations, the agreed text and participants’ final schedules of commitments.
Singapore joins as new participant
Singapore announced its participation in the negotiations and presented its draft schedule. This brings the total of participating WTO members to 65(1), representing over 90 per cent of world services trade.
A session entitled “WTO Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation: a deliverable at MC12 to strengthen the Multilateral Trading System” – organized by the European Services Forum and the Australian Services Roundtable – will be held during the 2021 WTO Public Forum, on 29 September. Further information is available here.
A “Simply Services Seminar”, held virtually on 21 September, spelt out the increasingly prevalent use of regulatory disciplines in services in economic integration initiatives, and their role in improving economic performance and lowering trade costs. The underlying research was presented by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States Support for Economic Growth in Asia (US-SEGA) and the WTO Secretariat.
A factsheet on the state of play of the negotiations, their origin and objectives is available here.
Ministers from 59 WTO members launched negotiations at the 11th Ministerial Conference held in December 2017 in Buenos Aires. In May 2019, ministers meeting on the side lines of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development meetings confirmed their commitment to delivering a meaningful outcome by MC12.
Each WTO member’s schedule of commitments can be accessed here.
The list of all sectors covered by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) can be found here.
The next meeting is scheduled for 11 October.