the importance of the multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO in delivering trade
liberalization based on the MFN principle and of successful conclusion of the remaining
post-Uruguay Round negotiations on services, including those on basic telecommunications.
vital role of telecommunications in stimulating economic development and as an essential
infrastructure for all economic and social activity, they stressed the importance of
progressive liberalization of access to telecommunications markets. Economic growth and
social development worldwide will benefit from such liberalization.
recognized that the outcome of the Uruguay Round in relation to telecommunications,
including the Annex on Telecommunications and the commitments scheduled by some 60
countries, had already contributed to the liberalization of trade in telecommunications,
and urged the successful conclusion of the negotiations on basic telecommunications to
build on this achievement.
highlighted the challenges facing governments in this rapidly developing sector, with
vastly different regulatory and market regimes. In particular, it was noted that in many
countries telecommunications regimes are undergoing profound and far reaching
transformation, with different approaches to reform being adopted.
agreement that in order to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the benefits of
open markets in basic telecommunications the process of progressive liberalization should
be firmly grounded in multilateral principles. The objective should be comprehensive
commitments on trade in basic telecommunications services, based on the principles of
most-favoured-nation and national treatment. Agreement on some additional principles, for
example in relation to interconnection, might be necessary or appropriate in the context
of a multiplicity of regimes.
It was also
recognized that the widest possible participation in the negotiations is desirable in
order to secure a balanced outcome of the negotiations, to the mutual benefit of all WTO
Members, developed and developing alike. Wide participation would also contribute to the
strengthening of the multilateral trading system. All WTO Members were therefore invited
to consider joining the Negotiating Group as full participants.
In view of
the short time remaining before the April 1996 deadline agreed by Ministers for the
conclusion of the negotiations on basic telecommunications, the meeting stressed the
importance of strict adherence to the agreed timetable for the concluding phases of the
Negotiating Group's work.