JOINT STATEMENT ON SERVICES DOMESTIC REGULATION
Thailand is the first member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to join the negotiations. Domestic regulation disciplines will help facilitate trade in services and increase transparency and predictability, Thailand emphasized, noting that services account for 60 per cent of its gross domestic product. According to the latest World Bank annual ratings, Thailand is one of the leading reformers of services regulations and is ranked 21st in the Bank's latest ease of doing business.
Participants (1) continued discussing the draft Reference Paper containing the proposed disciplines and reiterated their aim to finalize these negotiations by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference scheduled to take place next year. The disciplines apply to licensing and qualification requirements as well as procedures and technical standards for trade in services. The objective is to create good regulatory practices that help mitigate any unintended trade-restrictive effects of procedures for authorizing the supply of services.
The Chair, Jaime Coghi Arias of Costa Rica, stressed that “stabilising the text will send a positive signal to the WTO membership and beyond, and will allow the negotiations to focus on the next procedural steps and on how to best engage Ministers for the conclusion of these negotiations”.
The disciplines are designed to be compatible with WTO members' diverse regulatory systems and approaches. They provide for built-in flexibilities to help governments implement the measures domestically.
Participating members are submitting draft schedules outlining how the disciplines will be incorporated in their respective commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). A total of 30 draft schedules (representing 57 WTO members) have been submitted so far. Thailand and Kazakhstan announced their intention to submit their respective draft schedules soon.
The Chair highlighted the “good progress” made at the meeting, with most of the outstanding drafting issues resolved. He called on delegations to “work together in the coming days and weeks to resolve the few remaining issues, with a view to presenting a close-to-final Reference Paper before the end of 2020.”
Ministers from 59 WTO members launched negotiations at the 11th Ministerial Conference held in December 2017 in Buenos Aires. In May 2019, ministers meeting on the side-lines of a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) confirmed their commitment to deliver a meaningful outcome by the 12th Ministerial Conference.
More information on the negotiations on services domestic regulation can be found here.
Participants meet once a month. The next meeting is scheduled for 10 December.