This may set in motion a series of bilateral or plurilateral bargaining
sessions. Regardless of which member submits a request, the offer, in the form of an
improved “schedule” of commitments, would apply to all members.
Unlike requests, which are not provided to the WTO Secretariat, offers are
circulated to all members as a WTO document. At the conclusion of the
negotiations, final offers become legally binding commitments specifying the
conditions under which trade in services is granted.
Full details about the framework of the negotiations are contained in the
Guidelines and Procedures for the Negotiations on Trade in Services (S/L/93). Annex C
of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration provided more detailed
negotiating objectives to guide members. The technical aspects of submitting
requests and offers are explained in a WTO Secretariat paper.
The Doha Ministerial Declaration
established the original timeframe of 30 June 2002 for the circulation of
initial requests and 31 March 2003 for the submission of initial offers,
with all negotiations to be concluded not later than 1 January 2005.
In the aftermath of the failure of
the Cancun Ministerial Meeting in September 2003, a new target date of May
2005 was set for the submission of revised offers. Subsequently, at the Hong
Kong Ministerial Conference in December 2005, the target date of 31 July
2006 was established for second revised offers. However, given the lack of
progress in other areas, the Doha Development Agenda negotiations were
suspended from mid-July until January 2007. Negotiations have subsequently
continued with no new timelines currently set.
As of end of April 2011, 71 initial
offers had been submitted by WTO members. Initial offers that have been
derestricted by the member concerned are publicly available in the TN/S/O document series. In addition, some members have made their initial offers,
or summaries thereof, publicly available on their internet sites.
As of end of April 2011, 31 revised
offers had been submitted by WTO members. Revised offers that have been
derestricted by the member concerned are publicly available in the TN/S/O rev.1 document series.