WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO


25 February 2000

Services negotiations formally launched

The special session of the Services Council formally launched on Friday 25 February the new negotiations on services. Members agreed to work in the next few months on guidelines and procedures for the new negotiations. Overall, the negotiations will comprise two phases:

  • the "rules-making" phase during which Members will negotiate new rules for services on subsidies, safeguards and government procurement;
  • and the "request and offer" phase, where Members will negotiate further market access.

While work in the first phase will mostly take place in the existing services committees - mostly in the Working Party on GATS rules - market access negotiations will take place in special sessions of the Services Council.

At the same time, the Services Council will continue its mandated work on the reviews in regular meetings: review of MFN exemptions ; review of the Annex on Air Transport Services and review of the Understanding on Accounting Rates (S/GBT/4). The Committee on Specific Commitments is currently drafting procedures for the certification and modification of services schedules and continues its work on the classification of services. The Working Party on Domestic Regulations carries on its task of drafting disciplines for all services sectors.

The week of 10 April was agreed as the date for the next round of services meetings.