Today, the EU and other developed and developing country WTO partners have submitted new market access requests in several services sectors as part of the DDA negotiations in services. These joint requests mark the beginning of the "plurilateral" negotiations in services as agreed by WTO members at last December’s WTO Ministerial meeting in Hong-Kong. The EU now expects others to respond to the EU’s requests so as to ensure substantial revised offers are tabled by the agreed date of the end of July. The outcome should result in increased growth of world trade in services, which is key both for development worldwide and for employment in the EU.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: "Launching this collective process of negotiating new opportunities for trade in services clearly shows the importance for many WTO members of ensuring an ambitious result in services trade in the Doha round. This ambitious outcome in services is key for growth and jobs in the EU and essential for a balanced outcome of the Doha Round".
Although the number of participants in collective requests varies from sector to sector, "plurilateral" negotiations typically involve between twenty and forty WTO members, largely from developed and advanced developing countries. No request have been made to Least Developed Countries, and the vast majority of developing countries are excluded from the scope of collective requests.
Collective requests will be further negotiated between WTO Member States in Geneva over the coming weeks. The timetable included in Annex C of the Ministerial Declaration then foresees the submission of revised services offers by the end of July, and the submission of Members’ final schedules by the end of October 2006. Services involve the negotiation of complex issues, which means that to meet these deadlines, partners must be ready to show their cards already in the period up to the end of April, as we’ve been doing already for some time in services as in other areas of the Doha Round.
Services trade boosts growth and development...
The services sector accounts for more than two thirds of EU GDP and employment which makes it a key EU interest in the Doha Round. However, wider trade in services is a crucial part of the Doha Round’s wider development goals. Better roads, improved transport, IT and telecommunications, stronger and more reliable banking and insurance sectors; these are the backbone of a growing economy and crucial for development. EU service providers and EU investment can play an important part in building these sectors throughout the developing world.
No EU requests in sensitive public services sectors…
The EU is today participating in collective requests in the following sectors: Professional services (legal, architectural and engineering services); Computer services; Construction services; Postal and Courier services; Telecommunication services; Environmental services; Financial services; Maritime transport services, Air Transport and Energy services.
The EU is not participating in any request addressing audiovisual and cultural services, education services, health services or water for human use, or in any request that could more generally impact on the operation of public services.
For more information on the EU’s services requests