May 28, 2008

WTO Sevices Text Falls Flat In Wellington and Around the World

Services industries around the world are expressing real disappointment in the latest WTO text on services. As noted by The Guardian below, this reaction highlights what trouble the WTO Round is now in.

The New Zealand position is quite typical:

“The draft text demonstrates how little progress has been made in the services negotiations. Language calling for new market access and bindings of existing market access are missing from the text because it is still subject to further discussion,”
“It is unacceptable that text that reflects the spirit of the Doha mandate is having to be put in square brackets. This bracketed language must be made an integral part of the final services text.
“Services negotiations have the potential to break the current Doha Round impasse. For key countries to agree to liberalisation of trade in difficult areas such as agriculture there will need to be some progress in areas where they seek changes, such as trade in services.
The services sector is also crucial in their own right as the services sector is increasingly important to the New Zealand economy.

The Global Services Coalition has also spat the dummy according to The Guardian

"This version illustrates that members are still 'consulting' and demonstrates how little progress has been made in the services negotiations," the group said.
The coalition includes service industry groups from Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, the United States and other countries.
Its harsh reaction to the services text unveiled on Monday by Mexico's ambassador to the World Trade Organization, Fernando de Mateo y Venturini, is another sign of trouble in the long-running Doha round of world trade talks.
The coalition members complained that negotiations on services still lag badly behind those on agriculture and industrial goods, even though though the nearly 7-year-old talks are suppose to open markets in all three areas.
"The three are inextricably linked, and the round will only be brought to a successful conclusion when there is substantial progress in all three," the coalition said.
It called for a text that makes clear countries must maintain current service market openness, as well as provide new market access opportunities.