USTR - United States is Active Participant in Coalition to Jump Start WTO Services Negotiations
                 
The Office of the United States Trade Representative

United States is Active Participant in Coalition to Jump Start WTO Services Negotiations
02/28/2006

Geneva - The United States today launched a new effort to jump start the WTO Services negotiations.  Joining with like-minded developed and developing countries, the U.S. will push for a common set of liberalization objectives in services sectors key to global growth and development. 

Services are a significant and growing part of the U.S. economy as evidenced by the $56 billion surplus in services trade in 2005.  Further, 8 of 10 U.S. jobs are in the services sector.

“The U.S. maintains its strong commitment to the services negotiations because of the tremendous advantages to the United States and the developing world from liberalization,” said Deputy USTR Peter Allgeier. “We need ambition across the Doha Development Agenda, including an ambitious result for services.  That is why the United States is actively participating in this coalition to help jump start the services negotiations.”

“Services liberalization enhances the gains from liberalization in goods and agriculture by making the infrastructure of modern economies – express delivery services, reliable communications, financial services, transportation services and others – more widely available.  In addition to creating jobs and supporting growth in the service sector, services trade supports manufacturing and agriculture by reducing production costs, enhancing productivity gains, and facilitating product distribution,” Ambassador Allgeier added.

In delivering an initial set of “collective requests,” the United States met the first services mandate of the December 18, 2005 Hong Kong Declaration, calling upon WTO members to work together in groups (or “plurilaterally”) to intensify the services negotiations and submit collective requests by February 28, 2006.

The collective requests are intended to enhance the ongoing bilateral request offer process which began in 2002.  The United States will also be sending “refined” bilateral requests to WTO Members.   As one of the most open services markets in the world, the United States is participating in collective requests across a host of sectors, including: 

     -  Telecommunications
     -  Financial services
     -  Computer and related services 
     -  Distribution services 
     -  Express delivery services
     -  Energy services
     -  Environmental services
     -  Legal services
     -  Construction services
     -  Architectural and engineering services
     -  Audiovisual services
     -  Education services

Collective requests will be sent to Members today.  While recognizing WTO Members’ right to regulate their domestic services industries and differences in level of development among WTO Members, the collective requests seek the removal of:

     1.  Foreign investment limitations
     2.  Restrictions on form of establishment (e.g., prohibitions on branching)
     3.  Prohibitions on supplying services cross-border (e.g., via the Internet)
     4.  Nationality requirements
     5.  Discriminatory regulatory policies
     6.  Restrictions on competition (e.g., limitations on new entrants)

By removing such limitations, the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) supports economic development and benefits consumers by enabling the supply of important services that meet global standards for price and quality.  Researchers at the University of Michigan found that services liberalization could yield a $1.4 trillion income gain for the world, or 72 percent of the total economic gain from the Doha Development Agenda negotiations.

###