A total of 65 WTO members reached a deal on 27 September on new disciplines for services domestic regulation that aim to facilitate services trade. The objective is to mitigate the unintended trade-restrictive effects of measures relating to licensing requirements and procedures, qualification requirements and procedures, and technical standards. Improving the predictability and transparency of procedures that businesses have to follow for authorization to supply a service is the overarching aim of the new disciplines.

In the final stages of the negotiations, participating members are updating their schedules of commitments to reflect the new disciplines in their existing WTO services commitments. Several have added more service sectors to be covered by the new disciplines — such as environmental and business services — and all of them intend to apply the discipline on non-discrimination between men and women to their authorization procedures.

The 24 schedules submitted so far represent 50 WTO members (the European Union presented one schedule for its member states). A total of 15 of the 65 participating WTO members are yet to submit their schedule. Mr Coghi reiterated the importance of submitting schedules to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion. Several participants confirmed they are finalizing their schedules.

Finalizing an outcome document, to be endorsed by ministers, is eyed for the coming days. The chair shared the view that “we are on the right track with this text”.

Participants are also finalizing the translation of the “Reference Paper”, which contains the new disciplines, into the two other official WTO languages — French and Spanish. They aim to complete this process by 12 November.

Mr Coghi called on participants to “continue reaching out to the broader WTO membership to see if any additional members can join this Initiative”. Over 90 per cent of world services trade are covered by the current participants.

Next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 12 November.




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