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Goods and services | Brussels, 23 May 2019

59 WTO partners step up commitments to help service suppliers

On 23 May, 59 WTO Members adopted a Joint Statement on Services Domestic Regulation, paving the way for a successful outcome on this issue at the next World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in June 2020. This follows the launch of talks on electronic commerce back in January, showing that the EU is once again at the forefront of efforts to update the world trade rulebook to meet the challenges of the modern world.

Services Domestic Regulation is an ongoing WTO negotiation of rules aimed at improving transparency and streamlining of authorisation procedures for services suppliers. When adopted, those rules will benefit both domestic and foreign services suppliers and therefore facilitate the provision of services domestically and across borders. Improved transparency and faster, more objective and predictable authorisation procedures will be particularly beneficial for micro, small and medium sized enterprises.

In December 2017, at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, a large group of WTO Members decided to move ahead with this negotiation. Since then, talks have been taking place in an open, transparent and inclusive manner. Today, the co-sponsors of this new Joint Statement met in Paris in the margins of the OECD Ministerial Meeting in a meeting co-hosted by the EU and Australia and chaired by EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. On this occasion, the participants recognised the progress already made and committed to work on the outstanding issues.

Importantly, they agreed that the outcome of their work will be incorporated in their respective schedules of specific commitments on services. This pragmatic approach – foreseen by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) since its creation and previously used for other negotiations such as the Telecommunication Reference Paper – will ensure that a critical mass of WTO Members will apply the new rules on a Most Favoured Nation (MFN) basis thereby supporting the Multilateral Trading System.

The joint declaration

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