TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Feb07/08)
14 February 2007
A meeting on Services at the WTO was held on 2 February two days after the DG Lamy announced full resumption of the Doha talks.
Some mebers wanted a new deadlne for submissions of revised offers only after the modalities in agriculture and NAMA.
There was no agreement on a new deadline for the submission of revised offers.
The US said it required more progress in the services negotiations in order to facilitate its domestic process.
Below is a report on the meeting. It was published in SUNS of 5 Feb. 2007
With best wishes
WTO Services negotiations
set to intensify
At a meeting of the Special Session of the Council for Trade in Services at the WTO on Friday 2 February, WTO members reiterated that services is central to the "triangle" of issues on market access in agriculture and NAMA negotiations.
The Special Session took place two days after an informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee was held at which Director-General Pascal Lamy announced the full resumption of the Doha talks.
Lamy had told members at the informal TNC on Wednesday that he had urged ministers at Davos "to make sure that this sector [services] does not lag behind agriculture and NAMA, and to be more precise about the form and content of progress they are willing to make; and that it would be helpful to get a sense of direction on timing towards the submission of revised offers."
At the Special Session meeting Friday, some members wanted to set the submission date for revised offers at a month after the agriculture and NAMA modalities are finalized.
Brazil however pointed out that this decision should be made at a higher political level rather than being determined by the Services Council.
While recognizing that the submissions should be done only after the modalities in agriculture and NAMA are finalized, members were however unable to agree to a new deadline for the submission of revised offers.
Alluding to the issue of the extension of Trade Promotion Authority, the US told members that it required more progress in the services negotiations in order to facilitate its domestic process. The US expressed disappointment with the gap it saw between the existing services regime and commitments made by the members.
The US wanted the services negotiations to be intensified and proposed a one-week meeting of the Special Session starting on 26 February.
The EU reiterated the point of services being part of the market access "triangle." It said that progress in services is important in the end game and for trade-offs in the context of the single undertaking.
India agreed with the notion of services being part of the "triangle" of market access negotiations, but stressed that there should be balance across the market access pillars.
India wanted to see the services negotiations locking in Mode 1 commitments in members' current regimes.
In relation to the discussions on domestic regulations, India said that the future disciplines should promote free and fair trade rather than to frustrate it.
For India, in services, Mode 1 (cross-border) and Mode 4 (movement of natural persons) commitments, and domestic regulations are "the core of the round."
The Chair of the Working Party on Domestic Regulation, Mr Peter Govindasamy of Singapore, informed members that he was in the process of preparing a work-in-progress text on the development issue in domestic regulations.
He is putting together a consolidated work-in-progress draft on the other issues in the domestic regulation negotiations such as transparency and prior comment, qualification requirements and procedures and the issue of necessity.
According to trade officials, there is convergence around most of these issues since the disciplines have been diluted to suit the demands of the various members, except on the issue of development.
Members asked the Chair of the Special Session, Ambassador Fernando de Mateo of Mexico, to prepare a timetable for the negotiations. He felt that it was premature at this stage to have a concrete time-line, but nonetheless requested the secretariat to make meeting rooms available on the following dates: 19 February to 2nd March; 19 March to 30 March; and 16 to 27 April.
The Chair informed members that he will continue with consultations with small groups of countries and the "fireside" chats with heads of delegation and ambassadors, bearing in mind that meetings at higher political levels will also be conducted by other members.