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WTO NEWS: 2000 NEWS ITEMS

WTO organizes a seminar on services for delegations

At the request of a number of delegations, the WTO Secretariat will hold on 10-11 May a seminar to brief Members on the various issues relating to GATS and the services negotiations.

The request was motivated by the start of a new round of negotiations. A number of delegations believe that in the early stages of the services negotiations, an intensive and very basic briefing session on services can benefit all WTO representatives, especially small delegations unable to regularly follow work on services and delegates newly arrived in Geneva.

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The seminar will take the shape of briefings followed by discussions on the GATS and the schedules of commitments and on the major current areas of work in the Council for Trade in Services and its subsidiary bodies.

The first Special Session of the Services Council dealing with the new negotiations was held on Friday 25 February. Members agreed that the initial stages of the negotiations will concentrate on rules-making. The negotiations on specific market-access commitments are expected to start towards the end of the year.

While work on the rules-making will mostly take place in the existing services committees, market access negotiations will take place in special sessions of the Services Council.

At the same time, the Services Council will continue its mandated work on the reviews in regular meetings: review of MFN exemptions ; review of the Annex on Air Transport Services and review of the Understanding on Accounting Rates (S/GBT/4).

The Working Party on GATS Rules will continue its work on subsidies, government procurement and safeguards. The Working Party on Domestic Regulations will carry on its task of drafting disciplines relating to technical standards, licensing and qualification requirements for all services sectors. The Committee on Specific Commitments is currently working on guidelines for scheduling commitments and on procedures for the certification of services schedules. It also continues its work on the classification of services.

The next round of services meetings will take place during the week of 10 April:

Wednesday 12 April

Committee on Specific Commitments

Thursday 13 April

Morning - Working Party on Domestic Regulations

Afternoon - Committee on Financial Services

Friday 14 April

Morning - Council for Trade in Services

Afternoon - Special Session of the Council for Trade in Services