WTO: 2017 NEWS ITEMS

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The new publication brings together contributions from a range of experts who examine the services sector from various economic and legal perspectives. The book was presented by its co-editors — Pierre Sauvé from the World Trade Institute at the University of Bern and Martin Roy from the WTO Secretariat. Other participants included Pakistan’s WTO Ambassador, H.E. Dr. Syed Tauqir Shah, Hamid Mamdouh, Director of the WTO’s Trade in Services and Investment Division, Lee Tuthill from the WTO Secretariat, and Erik van der Marel from the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE).

In his opening remarks, DG Azevêdo said: “Trade in services, when measured in value added terms, accounts for almost 50% of world trade. Despite this, trade in services is still sometimes regarded as an emerging issue, or something that is only of interest to some countries. This view simply doesn’t reflect the reality today. It seems that we need to update our trade policy software.”

In reference to the work of the WTO, he continued: “On negotiations, transparency and monitoring, disputes, or capacity building, our success depends to a significant degree on our ability to reflect the reality of the trading system, with services playing a major role. It is a key part of trade policies and an essential tool of economic development and connectivity.” 

His full speech is here.

Ambassador Shah spoke about the critical link between trade in services and e-commerce and stressed the importance of discussing development aspects of the services sector. He said: “Used well, e-commerce is a real development tool and an enabler for small players. Promoting fair competition between online and offline services is critical for developing countries. Digital technologies can be transformational by promoting inclusion, efficiency, and innovation, but if the digital economy is not accessible, affordable and open, it will result in inequality, control and concentration. Today’s discussion is what we need: to help developing and least-developed countries understand the challenges and articulate their needs.”

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