Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements


Results of the basic telecommunication negotiations

On 5 February 1998, the results of the WTO negotiations on market access for basic telecommunications services formally entered into force.(1)


This paper is provided
as informal background for
information purposes only.
It should not be cited or
quoted as an official
document of the WTO.

At close of the three-year negotiations, in February 1997, the commitments of 69 governments (contained in 55 schedules (2) were annexed to the Fourth Protocol of the General Agreement on Trade in Services. The world's industrialized countries all participated in the deal. Over 40 developing countries large and small from virtually every region of the world also took part as did six of the Central and Eastern European economies in transition. The markets of the participants accounted for more than 91 percent of global telecommunications revenues. Moreover, since the negotiations, two participants in the Protocol improved their commitments and three WTO members who had not participated submitted commitments on basic telecommunications to the Council for Trade in Services (3).

Overview table of the results of the negotiations

The results of the negotiations on basic telecommunications, while impressive, are only a partial view of the commitments the WTO has achieved in this sector. Prior to the entry into force of results of the negotiations, 69 WTO Member governments had listed telecommunications in their schedules (counting commitments in both the Uruguay Round and in the subsequent accessions of new Members). Twenty-six of these had committed on some form of basic telecommunications and 50 had committed on some or all value-added services. The negotiations increased the total number of Member governments with commitments on telecommunications to 86 (contained in 72 schedules). On basic services, the number of governments with commitments has risen to 80 and on value-added services the number has increased to 69 (since these services were sometimes also included along with the basic services in the 4th protocol).


1.  On that date, a few of the participants had not yet ratified and deposited their acceptance of the Protocol. The commitments of each such government will formally enter into force 30 days from the date of its acceptance. back to text
2. Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, C˘te d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Communities and its Member States, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United States and Venezuela. back to text
3. Switzerland and Pakistan submitted improvements. Barbados, Cyprus, and Suriname submitted new commitments. back to text