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The EU and the WTO | Brussels, 3 July 2015

TiSA partners to assess progress towards liberalisation of service markets

The 13th round of negotiations for an international agreement on trade in services, known as TiSA, will begin on 6 July in Geneva. The round will offer an opportunity to assess progress made so far and to define further steps in the negotiating process. This stocktaking builds upon the senior officials’ discussions that had taken place in Paris on 4 June. The participants will identify areas of negotiation that are making good progress, those that require further work, or, those that, given the current difficulties, may require a political decision.

The negotiators dealing with market access will consider whether the offers on the table meet the objectives set for the TiSA and reflect on how to intensify negotiations in the second half of 2015.

With that in mind, the EU will urge all participants not having done so to table complete offers by the end of the summer.


The negotiators plan also to make progress this week on some specific issues, such as:

  1. domestic regulations, in particular the licensing procedures and requirements and professional qualifications,
  2. financial services,
  3. telecommunication,
  4. movement of natural persons as services suppliers, i.e. so called 'mode 4'.

Short sessions are also scheduled on maritime and road transport, transparency and e-commerce.


The EU objectives in TiSA

The EU participates actively in the negotiations supporting an ambitious and open TiSA.

For the EU, trade in services is of strategic importance, the sector accounting for some three-quarters of EU gross domestic product (GDP) and of EU jobs. Within the EU, cross-border trade in services accounts for around 30% of EU trade, and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Services (to be covered by the scope of the future agreement) represents around 70% of the EU's FDI flows and around 60% of our FDI stock.

In addition to the benefits that TiSA will deliver to the EU services sector, it should also strengthen the multilateral trade system. The EU has actively advocated letting other interested WTO members join the TiSA negotiations.

The EU is pleased that Mauritius, the first ACP country, is expected to join the negotiations during the upcoming round. This should be a step towards making TiSA a fully multilateral agreement.

The EU aim of the negotiations is to raise the level of ambition of all participants, current and the future, so that the level of commitment they will take on market access and national treatment is similar for everyone.

The EU wants TiSA to include clear market access standards. These would, for instance, ensure that whenever a services company establishes a subsidiary in another country participating in TiSA, it will be able to bring the necessary personnel to ensure an adequate management of its subsidiary. The EU would also like TiSA to end foreign equity caps, including on sectors such as telecommunication.

Further on telecommunication the EU pleads for a broad scope covering for instance "internet access services" in order to ensure that the agreement is modern future proof.

At the same time, the EU wants TiSA not to go beyond real trade issues, like for example publicly-funded health services or insurance portability. The EU will not compromise the high quality of its public health services in a trade agreement. For more details, see the press release of February this year.

 

Background - What is TiSA?

The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is a trade agreement currently being negotiated by 25 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) [1] including the EU with its 28 Member States counted as a single participant. Together, these countries account for over 70% of world trade in services.

TISA continues attracting new partners. In February, the participants welcomed the representatives of Uruguay and Mauritius is expected to join the upcoming round in July. Also China asked also to join the talks.

Although the negotiations do not fall under the remit of the WTO, the EU makes all the efforts to ensure that the TiSA is compatible with the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which involves all WTO members. The key provisions of the GATS – scope, definitions, market access rules, national treatment and exemptions – are also part of TiSA. Guarantee 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.

The talks are based on proposals made by the participants. The future agreement will be a result of negotiations among all the parties, and it is clear that not all proposals will be reflected in the final outcome. TiSA aims at opening up markets and improving rules in areas such as licensing, financial services, telecoms, e-commerce, maritime transport, and professionals moving abroad temporarily to provide services.

To learn more about EU interests and specific proposals in the TiSA negotiations, please see our website.

 

More info:

TiSA Questions & Answers available on our website.

 

[1] Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, the EU, Hong Kong China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, Uruguay