Apr 14, 2008

Huge Task Ahead In WTO Services Negotiations

In an interesting move the Australian Trade Minister and US Trade Representative have penned a joint op ed in the Wall Street Journal. The op ed calls for more substance in the WTO services negotiations. To date nothing much has happened in these negotiations with all the real action happening in the agriculture and non-agriculture areas. Some Governments - New Zealand included - don't appear to have been too disconcerted by this lack of progress as they either don't understand the importance of services for their economy, or they are unwilling to contemplate any liberalisation of the sector. The reason for this op ed is that both Governments are feeling the heat from their services sectors over this lack of progress, and a major lobbying effort is being planned this week in Geneva by representatives of the sector. The US and Australia clearly don't want to be criticised by such important interest groups.

We are fully supportive of the US and Australian position

Reaching a strong outcome in services in the World Trade Organization's Doha Round is so important that the United States and Australia have decided to make our position clear: Like many other WTO members, we will not support a Doha package unless it includes an ambitious outcome on services that delivers commercially meaningful results.

but we can't see how we can get there if there is to be an outcome in the WTO negotiations this year. As yet, there is nothing commercially meaningful on the table. We also wonder why Phil Goff is not also a joint author of this op ed?