Most WTO members expressed doubt that a work programme on services to help conclude the Doha Round could be drafted by 31 July, the deadline set at the General Council on 27 November 2014 following the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference. However, a group of 60 WTO members is working on a collective paper elaborating their position on what the work programme should entail for services.
Some delegations said that “missing the July deadline would not mean the end of the world” and are hopeful for a services outcome at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December. This would focus on market access and domestic regulation, while including a strong development dimension with flexibilities for developing countries. This objective would only be reached if intensified negotiations resume immediately after the summer break, these members stressed.
Several members claimed that services negotiations are more advanced than agriculture and industrial goods negotiations — the other two main pillars of the Doha Round — because of the work members have already undertaken on services. For some members, this means that the level of ambition in the services negotiations cannot be raised any further until the “landing zones” in agriculture and industrial goods are clear.
The WTO Least-Developed Countries (LDC) Group reminded members of the agreed deadline of 31 July to notify how members in a position to do so intend to provide preferential treatment to LDC services and service suppliers. So far, the Council for Trade in Services has received notifications from:
Chairman Gabriel Duque from Colombia will report to the Trade Negotiations Committee on 31 July on progress made towards a services component of the work programme.