Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Informal Meeting on Trade in Services organized by South Centre

On Thursday 27th September 2007, the South Centre organised an informal meeting of developing country services trade negotiators-with the aim of providing a forum for these countries to exchange ideas and thoughts in preparation for the special session of the Council for Trade in Services that was scheduled for Friday 28th September 2007.

The services negotiations are at a critical phase, wherein it it is thought by a large number of Members, particularly developed countries, that there is need to re-energise these negotiaitions and raise the profile so as to match ambition in negotiations on trade in industrial products and agriculture. As such, it has been proposed that the Chair of the Services Council prepares a text along similar lines as has been in NAMA and agriculture. While not totally opposed to the idea of the chair taking a more proactove role in these negotiations, developing countries were very cautious that this mandate does not be used in any way that disturbs the delicate flexibility in Annex C to the Hong Kong Declaration. It was thought that a text containing dates for the submission of revised and final offers, as well as one that takes stock of where negotiations are on the various aspects of Annex C was possibly useful.

We are yet to see where this process goes. What is clear though is that the intricacies of services including the negotiating architecture inherent in progressive liberalisation, the Guidelines and procedures for services negotiations and Annex C, all provide a delicate balance signaling the non-applicability of formula-like approoaches in services.