Moore, Director-General of the World Trade Organization and Ambassador
Alejandro Jara of Chile, Chairman of the Special Session of the WTO
Services Council, underscored today that WTO negotiations to
liberalize trade in services were no threat to Government services and
that such sectors of the services economy were in fact excluded from
ahead of an important series of meetings on services to be held next
month, the two WTO officials stressed that encouraging competition
through liberalization holds potential for great economic benefit
particularly in developing countries. But they made it clear that
every government has the right to exclude public services —
including health, education and water distribution — from the
negotiations and that it is for governments to decide which service
sectors they wish to liberalize and which they do not.
negotiations are taking place within the legal framework of the
General Agreement on Trade in Services and the negotiating guidelines
adopted by Member Governments in March 2001. The GATS explicitly
excludes government services from its scope and there is no question
of changing those rules. The negotiating guidelines explicitly stress
that each Member Government has the right to choose the sectors it
wishes to liberalize. Government services supplied on a non-commercial
basis by each of the 144 WTO Member Governments are explicitly
excluded from the scope of the negotiations. This is a principle to
which all Member Governments attach great importance and which none
has sought to reopen,” said Ambassador Jara.
Moore said that in the coming days governments will make their first
requests for market opening and that it was possible some governments
could ask others to open public service sectors to foreign
competition. But, he explained, that such requests do not constitute
agreements to include such sectors as part of their commitments.
can and will ask for the moon during the request stage of the
negotiations. That doesn’t mean they’ll get it. Decisions in the
WTO are taken on the basis of a concensus of all member governments.
Governments cannot be forced to undertake opening of their public
services,” Mr. Moore said.
Director-General added that the liberalization of governmental
segments of sectors such as health and education has never come up in
the discussions between governments. Even the liberalization of the
commercial segments of such sectors has received little attention in
the negotiations, he said. The focus of the negotiations has been on
other services sectors.
is important about these negotiations,” he said, “is that they
offer vast potential for raising living standards globally but
especially in developing countries, many of which stand to benefit the
most from further opening of services markets. In fact, 25 developing
countries earn more than half of their total export income from
the negotiations enter the important stage of bilateral bargaining
over market access, Chairman Jara stressed the need for public
understanding based on clarity and objectivity.
negotiating Government has the unequivocal right to choose which
services it wishes to open to foreign competition and under which
conditions and the right to regulate the supply of service in line
with national policy objectives. And even for those services provided
by governments on a commercial basis, there is nothing in the WTO
rules which requires that they be privatized or liberalized,” he