The General Council also unanimously agreed to address the trade and developmental
impact on developing countries during mandated reviews of WTO agreements including those
on intellectual property rights (TRIPS) and trade-related investment measures
show that the WTO is very much in business said WTO Director-General Mike Moore
afterwards. The members reached agreement with a tremendous amount of goodwill. This
is the result of a lot of serious and constructive preparation.
decisions provide a platform, not only for the mandated negotiations and reviews, but also
for other issues which members would like to see included in the WTOs
programme, Mr Moore said. With work underway constructively in agriculture and
services, discussions on the other issues can also progress.
and services are vitally important for the prosperity of people all over the world,
the Director-General said. Half of the worlds workforce 52% of the
female workforce and 46% of the male workforce are in agriculture according to the
World Banks latest figures, and 29% work in service industries.
sectors are already going through fundamental reform and liberalization under the WTO, and
the launch of the new negotiations will provide WTO member governments with the
opportunity to thrash out their differences and continue with the reforms in a way that
best serves their priorities and their interests, he said.
both subjects have been difficult to negotiate in the past, and will no doubt continue to
be difficult in the coming years, WTO member governments did reach important agreements
six years ago. Im confident theyll do so again. Theres just too much at
of the topics discussed today remain on the table following failure to reach agreement at
the 30 November to 3 December 1999 Ministerial Conference in Seattle.
negotiations on agriculture and services are required under current WTO rules
(Article 20 of the Agriculture Agreement and Article XIX (i.e. 19) of the
General Agreement on Trade in Services).1 These talks will
cover sectors accounting for about half of the world economy and about a quarter of
international trade. According to WTO figures, in 1998, out of about $6.7 trillion of
world trade in goods and services, agriculture accounted for $0.5 trillion (over 8%),
and services for $1.3 trillion dollars (almost 20%).2
objectives are to further liberalize trade in services and to continue the agricultural
reform programme in which WTO members have agreed gradually to reduce subsidies and
tariff- and other barriers.
present programme for agriculture lasts six years (until the end of this year) for
developed countries, and 10 years (to 2004) for developing nations. It includes
reductions in export subsidies, trade-distorting domestic support, and import tariffs. In
services, new post-Uruguay Round agreements were reached on telecommunications
liberalization in February 1997, and financial services liberalization in December 1997.
new negotiations will take place in parallel with routine work in the Services Council and
Agriculture Committee. This includes monitoring how the present agreements and commitments
are being implemented.
are already consulting among themselves and with Mr Moore about how to proceed with
discussions on implementing a number of other present agreements including
proposals to postpone deadlines for developing countries in certain areas such as
intellectual property and investment measures and special concessions for products
from least developed countries.
General Council agreed today to intensify consultations on these issues, and on how to
improve decision-making so that the process is more efficient and at the same time allows
all members to participate and keep informed about developments. It instructed Mr Moore to
consult with members on possible steps to be taken on all of these subjects.
ALSO Press Release 166:Director-Generals statement to
more information on agriculture and services in the WTO, see the
agriculture or the
services section of
the WTO guide “Understanding the WTO”, the introduction to the WTO,
also available on the WTO website at
Article 20 of the
Continuation of the Reform Process
that the long-term objective of substantial progressive reductions in support and
protection resulting in fundamental reform is an ongoing process, Members agree that
negotiations for continuing the process will be initiated one year before the end of the
implementation period, taking into account:
- the experience
to that date from implementing the reduction commitments;
- the effects of
the reduction commitments on world trade in agriculture;
concerns, special and differential treatment to developing-country Members, and the
objective to establish a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system, and the
other objectives and concerns mentioned in the preamble to this Agreement; and
- what further
commitments are necessary to achieve the above mentioned long-term objectives.
XIX of the General Agreement on Trade in Services:
of Specific Commitments
In pursuance of the objectives of this Agreement, Members shall enter into successive
rounds of negotiations, beginning not later than five years from the date of entry
into force of the WTO Agreement and periodically thereafter, with a view to achieving a
progressively higher level of liberalization. Such negotiations shall be directed to the
reduction or elimination of the adverse effects on trade in services of measures as a
means of providing effective market access. This process shall take place with a view to
promoting the interests of all participants on a mutually advantageous basis and to
securing an overall balance of rights and obligations.
The process of liberalization shall take place with due respect for national policy
objectives and the level of development of individual Members, both overall and in
individual sectors. There shall be appropriate flexibility for individual developing
country Members for opening fewer sectors, liberalizing fewer types of transactions,
progressively extending market access in line with their development situation and, when
making access to their markets available to foreign service suppliers, attaching to such
access conditions aimed at achieving the objectives referred to in Article IV.
For each round, negotiating guidelines and procedures shall be established. For the
purposes of establishing such guidelines, the Council for Trade in Services shall carry
out an assessment of trade in services in overall terms and on a sectoral basis with
reference to the objectives of this Agreement, including those set out in paragraph 1
of Article IV. Negotiating guidelines shall establish modalities for the treatment of
liberalization undertaken autonomously by Members since previous negotiations, as well as
for the special treatment for least-developed country Members under the provisions of
paragraph 3 of Article IV.
The process of progressive liberalization shall be advanced in each such round through
bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral negotiations directed towards increasing the
general level of specific commitments undertaken by Members under this Agreement.
Data (back to top)
that trade figures for agriculture do not correspond exactly with the
activities under negotiation since they include fisheries products.
> Return to news item
1 At the end of the
198694 Uruguay Round of trade talks the countries which were to become the
WTOs membership agreed to resume negotiations on both subjects at the beginning of
this year. This was written into the agreements.
2 These are best
available estimates adjusted to take account of the following: the services agreements
exclude government services, and the Agriculture Agreement includes processed food and
exclude fisheries products. Available figures are: agriculture (excluding processed food
but including fisheries products) and services (including government services) account for
65% of world GDP (World Bank). Agriculture (including processed food and fisheries
products) and services (excluding government services) account for 27% of international