SPEECHES — DG ROBERTO AZEVÊDO

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Ambassador Paik,
Mr Ortiz,
Ms González,
Ms Lee,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome.

It's great to be here today. Unfortunately, I will have to leave right after these remarks, but I wanted to say a few words at the start of this important event.

Your presence here today is a sign of Members' interest in the subject of regulatory frameworks for services trade. This issue has seen fruitful discussions over the last eighteen months.

I congratulate the MIKTA group for organizing this workshop. MIKTA itself is a testament to how much can be accomplished when Members, regardless of their level of development, find common ground and decide to work together in pursuit of common goals.

You have brought together a wide range of expert representatives from governments, business, and leading international organizations. Thank you all for taking part in this initiative today.

The services sector now accounts for a bigger share of output than manufacturing or agriculture in many economies, developed, developing, and least-developed. At the same time, the services sector is, by its very nature, regulation-intensive. This is why services trade often faces heavy regulatory requirements, especially when suppliers are established abroad.

The WTO 2019 World Trade Report looks precisely at the “Future of Services Trade”. It finds that even though trade costs in services have fallen in recent years, they are still almost twice as high as those for trade in goods. One of the main reasons for this is the more complex policy regimes applicable to services trade. 

The answer here is not to do away with or prohibit regulations, but to get them right. Regulations should serve domestic policy objectives while preserving a level playing field for market competition.

Competitive, dynamic services markets cannot thrive in the absence of a supportive policy environment and a well-functioning regulatory framework.

And that's precisely what businesses everywhere are asking for. When it comes to regulations, they want increased transparency and predictability so that they can make informed decisions. I want to emphasise that this is something we hear from LDC services exporters — most recently at the LDC Services Workshop a few weeks ago.

As I noted earlier, work has been going on at the WTO to respond to these needs.

A group of WTO Members has launched discussions on regulatory disciplines for services trade. The Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation comprises 60 Members from different levels of development and regulatory backgrounds, together accounting for more than 70% of world trade.

Good regulatory practice is compatible with a variety of regulatory systems and approaches — no matter the level of development or the societal choices reflected in domestic regulation. The main objective is to ensure that certain types of regulations are not opaque and unnecessarily cumbersome. Enhancing regulatory quality and facilitating services trade are the key goals here.

Today's workshop is an excellent opportunity to go deeper into these issues. It will also allow for a better understanding on the relationship between regulatory quality, sustainable growth and development, and competitive services markets. 

I wish you the best for today, and will look forward to hearing about your discussions. 

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