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Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

SERVICES: AGREEMENT
Decision on negotiations on maritime transport services

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Ministers,

Noting that commitments scheduled by participants on maritime transport services at the conclusion of the Uruguay Round shall enter into force on an MFN basis at the same time as the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (hereinafter referred to as the "WTO Agreement"),

Decide as follows:

1. Negotiations shall be entered into on a voluntary basis in the sector of maritime transport services within the framework of the General Agreement on Trade in Services. The negotiations shall be comprehensive in scope, aiming at commitments in international shipping, auxiliary services and access to and use of port facilities, leading to the elimination of restrictions within a fixed time scale.

2. A Negotiating Group on Maritime Transport Services (hereinafter referred to as the "NGMTS") is established to carry out this mandate. The NGMTS shall report periodically on the progress of these negotiations.

3. The negotiations in the NGMTS shall be open to all governments and the European Communities which announce their intention to participate. To date, the following have announced their intention to take part in the negotiations:

Argentina, Canada, European Communities and their member States, Finland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United States.

Further notifications of intention to participate shall be addressed to the depositary of the WTO Agreement.

4. The NGMTS shall hold its first negotiating session no later than 16 May 1994. It shall conclude these negotiations and make a final report no later than June 1996. The final report of the NGMTS shall include a date for the implementation of results of these negotiations.

5. Until the conclusion of the negotiations Article II and paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Annex on Article II Exemptions are suspended in their application to this sector, and it is not necessary to list MFN exemptions. At the conclusion of the negotiations, Members shall be free to improve, modify or withdraw any commitments made in this sector during the Uruguay Round without offering compensation, notwithstanding the provisions of Article XXI of the Agreement. At the same time Members shall finalize their positions relating to MFN exemptions in this sector, notwithstanding the provisions of the Annex on Article II Exemptions. Should negotiations not succeed, the Council for Trade in Services shall decide whether to continue the negotiations in accordance with this mandate.

6. Any commitments resulting from the negotiations, including the date of their entry into force, shall be inscribed in the Schedules annexed to the General Agreement on Trade in Services and be subject to all the provisions of the Agreement.

7. Commencing immediately and continuing until the implementation date to be determined under paragraph 4, it is understood that participants shall not apply any measure affecting trade in maritime transport services except in response to measures applied by other countries and with a view to maintaining or improving the freedom of provision of maritime transport services, nor in such a manner as would improve their negotiating position and leverage.

8. The implementation of paragraph 7 shall be subject to surveillance in the NGMTS. Any participant may bring to the attention of the NGMTS any action or omission which it believes to be relevant to the fulfilment of paragraph

7. Such notifications shall be deemed to have been submitted to the NGMTS upon their receipt by the Secretariat.