The Plurilateral Agreement on Services

01-07-2013

Negotiations are underway on a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). Following the Commission's request for a mandate in February 2013 the EU is participating in these negotiations. The negotiations are motivated by a desire to further trade in services at a time when the negotiations at the multilateral level on the Doha Development Agenda are at an apparent standstill. The aim of the negotiations is that they shall be consistent with the General Agreement on Trade in Services and the WTO and that they will ultimately result in a multilateralisation. The negotiations are ambitious in terms of sectoral coverage as well as the rules that should be agreed. For those who wish to enhance trade in services, the TISA represents a move in the right direction after many years of stalemate. The last services trade negotiations in the WTO were completed nearly 20 years ago. On the other hand there are a number of genuine doubts about the initiative. Will it provide much value-added in terms of access to new markets when some of the key emerging markets are not participating? Will the efforts further or undermine multilateral efforts, in the sense that the incentive to conclude a multilateral agreement is reduced? The pros and cons of such services negotiations and their implications for wider trade relations and thus the interests of the EU are analysed in depth in this report.

Negotiations are underway on a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). Following the Commission's request for a mandate in February 2013 the EU is participating in these negotiations. The negotiations are motivated by a desire to further trade in services at a time when the negotiations at the multilateral level on the Doha Development Agenda are at an apparent standstill. The aim of the negotiations is that they shall be consistent with the General Agreement on Trade in Services and the WTO and that they will ultimately result in a multilateralisation. The negotiations are ambitious in terms of sectoral coverage as well as the rules that should be agreed. For those who wish to enhance trade in services, the TISA represents a move in the right direction after many years of stalemate. The last services trade negotiations in the WTO were completed nearly 20 years ago. On the other hand there are a number of genuine doubts about the initiative. Will it provide much value-added in terms of access to new markets when some of the key emerging markets are not participating? Will the efforts further or undermine multilateral efforts, in the sense that the incentive to conclude a multilateral agreement is reduced? The pros and cons of such services negotiations and their implications for wider trade relations and thus the interests of the EU are analysed in depth in this report.

Autore esterno

Pierre SAUVÉ (World Trade Institution, University of Bern, Germany)