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Goods and services | Brussels, 19 September 2014

EU chairs next round of plurilateral talks on services

The next round of plurilateral negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) will start on Sunday 21 September in Geneva.

As the chair of the five days gathering, the EU is keen to bring a new dynamics to the services discussion. In this round, the analysis of the offers on market access that are on the table will be linked to the discussions on regulatory texts in specific services sectors. At the end of the round, the participants will try to draw conclusions on the relation between schedules and disciplines in a broader, horizontal discussion.

This round will also focus on four key regulatory disciplines which have been chosen for longer and detailed discussion: financial services, telecommunication, domestic regulation & transparency and mode 4. The group will also briefly exchange views on all modes of transport, professional services, competitive delivery services and distribution.

What is more, during the week-long negotiations, three new proposals will be presented. The EU will make a proposal on government procurement in services with the aim of setting an end to discrimination in this area. The EU envisages the elimination of all differences in treatment between domestically owned and foreign owned (but domestically established) companies in the process of providing services to a public authority. Other participants will make proposals on environmental services and health related services.

Background

Since the talks were launched in March last year, 21 of the 23 participants have tabled their opening bids. Only Pakistan and Paraguay have not yet listed which of their services markets they are prepared to open up and to what degree.

Although the negotiations do not fall under the remit of the WTO, the EU makes efforts to ensure that the TiSA is compatible with the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Ensuring that the agreement is GATS compatible will not only make it open to other WTO members who wish to join later, but also make it easier to integrate it into the WTO. Therefore the round has been deliberately scheduled to be back-to-back with regular meetings of the WTO and of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The aim is to increase synergies with and ensure participation of capital-based officials.

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