Jul 5, 2008

WTO Moment Of Truth: And Don't Forget Services

Global services companies are furious at the exclusion of services from the main focus of the forthcoming WTO Ministerial. We understand that a teleconference held yesterday has seen the group agree to have a strong presence in Geneva for the Ministerial meeting. WTO Director-General Lamy is seen as being out of touch for comments that are seen as confirming what many have suspected - the WTO negotiators haven't seen services as important as agriculture and non-agricultural goods market access. (Intriguingly French President Nicolas Sarkozy has also been describing the EU WTO negotiators as out of touch also). This is even though 70% + of GDP in developed and over 50% of GDP in most developing countries is generated by the services sector. The services companies believe that negotiators have foolishly looked to manufactures for the trade-offs needed to seal an agriculture deal rather than services. As a result there has been virtually no progress in the services negotiations. And now time looks as though it is running out.

This report from the Guardian sets the scene well for the showdown in Geneva.