Outgoing chair Marcelo Cima, Argentina's WTO Ambassador, noted Ambassador Aitzhanova's experience in WTO matters and the high posts she had held in her country, notably as Minister for Economic Integration and for Trade. He expressed confidence that the new chair would guide the future discussions with great skill and efficiency. Ambassador Cima thanked delegations for their cooperation during his tenure, in particular in the lead-up to the Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference.
Ambassador Aitzhanova underscored the importance of the service sector for countries at all levels of development and highlighted the dynamism of the sector. "From my personal experience, I have come to appreciate that trade in services, despite the apparent complexity compared to trade in goods, is fundamental for economic development. In value added terms, services represent about half of world trade and, for most economies, services are the most important sector for domestic production and employment."
Noting that services commitments of most members were more than two decades old despite the dynamism of the sector, the Ambassador encouraged delegations to engage in active reflection and constructive discussions in order to facilitate negotiations. "Much has changed in many service sectors over the last years: market developments, government policies and ways of accessing markets. What implications does this carry for members' current interests, approaches or priorities in services negotiations? I feel that meaningful discussions and work could allow us to get a better picture of what may be needed, what may be desirable and possible in the negotiations, and what may not."
The Ambassador announced she would undertake consultations with members in order to help facilitate future discussions.