Date and Time: Thursday 5th December 2013 ~~~ 9:00 – 10:30
Location: Hibiscus Room
Theme: International Trade Governance and Sustainable Development



Session Objectives

- Examine lessons from preferential trade arrangements (PTAs) and mega-regionals for services and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- Discuss where the negotiations on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) may be headed and how they may impact the multilateral trading system, especially after China’s request to join.
- Brainstorm how recent initiatives in services may help to revitalise the WTO services agenda post-Bali.


There has been an unfortunate lack of progress on services in the Doha Round negotiations. Services have been left behind in the multilateral negotiating agenda and in the attention of WTO Members. Services are not even on the agenda of the Bali MC9 Conference. The situation is dire at present, with no movement in sight and with the GATS falling further and further behind the forward movement in preferential trade agreements. Currently the TISA (Trade in International Services Agreement) negotiations in Geneva are infusing new life and energy into the services arena. Where will this leave the WTO, which cannot remain relevant to the global trading system without updating its rules and market access commitments on services, which now represent nearly one-half of world trade measured on a value-added basis, the majority of FDI flows and enable the operation of global value chains. It is imperative to re-vitalize the multilateral trading system in this area. This session will examine the new negotiating initiatives on services and the lessons to be learned from preferential trading agreements and the mega-regional discussions for the WTO. It will also examine the new energy being brought by the stand-alone, TISA negotiations and where they may be leading the trading system, as well as the implications of China’s transformation to services for the multilateral trading system. The focus of the session will be on how such new developments can be used to catalyse the services agenda in the WTO post-Bali.