DANGEROUS CHANGES IN GATS’ NEGOTIATING RULES (Juillet 08)

, par AITEC

(Addressed to Trade Missions of WTO Member Countries)

As civil society organizations concerned about trade justice issues around the world, we are appalled by provisions in the draft negotiating text issued May 27th by the Chair of the WTO Council for Trade in Services.

In particular, we find the following bracketed text in paragraph 4 of the Annex to be particularly problematic :

Negotiations must be driven by the same level of ambition and political will as reflected
in the agriculture and NAMA modalities. While respecting the existing structure and principles of the GATS, Members shall respond to bilateral and plurilateral requests by offering commitments that substantially reflect current levels of market access and national treatment and provide new market access and national treatment in cases where significant trade impediments exist.

If adopted, this text would establish new mandatory procedures for service negotiations that flatly contradict many of the modalities already agreed upon for the GATS negotiations, namely :

-  the Guidelines and Procedures for the Negotiations on Trade in Services [March 28, 2001] that stipulate --- “The starting point for the negotiation of specific commitments shall be the current schedules, without prejudice to the content of requests.” (point 10) and --- “Special attention shall be given to sectors and modes of supply of export interest to developing countries” ;
-  the Modalities for the Special treatment of the Least Developed Country Members in the Negotiations on Trade in Services [September 3, 2003] ;
-  the explicitly non-mandatory guidelines adopted in Annex C of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration in 2005 ;
-  the flexibilities for services negotiations as outlined in Article XIX of the GATS, allowing countries to engage in progressive liberalization, and GATS Article XIX.2 which permits developing countries to open fewer sectors or liberalize fewer transactions, and to ensure that opening market access to certain sectors is compatible with their development priorities.

In effect, this bracketed text reflects a unilateral demand by the industrialized powers to make mandatory (“Negotiations must be driven”, “Members shall respond”) and binding commitments for opening the service sectors of their economies to foreign-based transnational corporations.
It is well known that the US and the EU, supported by Japan, Canada, Australia and other industrialized countries, have been insisting that developing countries make major concessions in terms of market access in services in exchange for movement in agriculture and NAMA before the Doha Round can be concluded. Key sectors of developing country economies have been targeted for market access and national treatment including --- financial services, energy services, telecom services, education services, environment services and tourism services.

Another problem is that the aforementioned bracketed text appears to be set up for bargaining against another bracketed text in the same paragraph 4 :

“Members reiterate that the next offers shall provide market access in sectors and modes of supply of export interest to developing countries, such as Modes 1 and 4, as indicated in bilateral and plurilateral requests, in accordance with Article IV of the GATS.”
The problem here is that this bracket text reiterates a long agreed principle in GATS art. VI.1. (c). It, therefore, should not be put in brackets (even if it more explicitly refers to modes 1 and 4) and should not be used for bargaining against a part of text that flatly contradicts already agreed upon negotiation principles.

We fear that in a push to rapidly finalize the Doha round negotiations in 2008, GATS negotiators will be forced to offer commitments that substantially reflect current levels of market access and much more. In some cases, developing countries will be suddenly compelled to make offers in inequitable exchanges for concessions made in areas of agriculture and NAMA. This would also mean that GATS negotiations would be extremely rushed in comparison with the negotiations on agriculture and NAMA, while the demands from the rich countries might have very complex, costly and negative consequences in many developing countries.

Moreover, many other parts of the GATS negotiations are still matters of concern, such as the negotiations on domestic regulation which will substantially erode policy space even if the language seems to have been softened.

We, therefore, urge not only developing countries but all member states of the WTO Council on Trade in Services, to reject this draft text, especially paragraph 4, and, instead, insist that the GATS modalities of non-mandatory guidelines and flexibility for developing countries, be fully respected
in these negotiations. This means that the GATS negotiations should not be rushed, and not be used as a bargaining chip or as compensation for the concessions made by developed countries’ in either the agriculture or NAMA negotiations.

Nous suivre

AGENDAToutes les dates

Audio/VidéoTous les documents

  • Théâtre "Changement Climatique : de l’Or en Barre"

    , par AITEC

    CHANGEMENT CLIMATIQUE : DE L’OR EN BARRE Une création de la compagnie TAF Théâtre Une initiative de l’Aitec en partenariat avec Attac.
    Cette pièce aborde les enjeux de changement climatique, du pouvoir des multinationales et de la mobilisation citoyenne, dans le cadre de la (...)

  • La face cachée des accords d’investissement

    , par AITEC

    Comment des tribunaux internationaux forcent nos gouvernements à payer les entreprises avec notre argent.
    Vidéo produite par le Transnational Institute (TNI) sur la face cachées des accords d’investissements et leurs conséquences en termes de démocratie, d’inégalité et de droits (...)

  • Entretien de l’Aitec à RFI sur les enjeux du PTCI

    , par AITEC

    La seconde session de négociations sur le PTCI entre l’Union Européenne et les Etat-Unis s’est tenue à Bruxelles du au novembre.
    A cette occasion, l’Aitec a répondu à une interview de RFI sur les dangers qu’un tel accord engendrerait pour les populations et (...)

  • #19o Vidéo pour la Journée européenne d’actions pour le droit au logement et à la ville

    , par AITEC

    La coordination européenne d’actions pour le droit au logement et à la ville et contre la spéculation appelle à une journée d’action en Europe pour lutter pour le droit au logement et à la ville, contre le logement cher et contre l’austérité ! Construisons une Europe sociale, qui garantisse le droit au logement pour toutes et tous ! Unissons nos forces pour transformer le logement, les terres et les villes en biens communs ! Montrons notre volonté collective de construire une force d’opposition au niveau européen pour des conditions de logement digne avec des actions le 19 octobre !

    Confronté-e-s à ce régime brutal d’austérité européenne qui continue de transformer nos vies en des biens financiers de spéculation globale, violant chaque jour le droit universel au logement, détruisant la démocratie à tous les niveaux et ne présentant aucune solution socialement acceptable à la crise du capitalisme, nous partageons l’orientation commune que l’alternative nécessaire à ce barbarisme ne peut être construite qu’à travers des mouvements sociaux élargis pour une intégration sociale européenne alternative.

    À Amsterdam, Athènes, Berlin, Budapest, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Genève, Lisbonne, Lorient, Malaga, Milan, Paris, Poznan, Rotterdam, Rouen, Rome, Toulouse, et Varsovie des actions auront lieu pour dénoncer la spéculation et pour exiger au niveau national et européen le respect et l’application du droit au logement pour toutes et tous.

    PARIS – SAMEDI 19 OCTOBRE RDV 14h – Place de la République

    Blog : http://europeandayofactionforhousingrights.wordpress.com/
    Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oct-19th-European-Day-of-Action-for-Housing-Rights/1402919649939067 et inscrivez-vous à l’événement : https://www.facebook.com/events/460204120759718/
    Twitter : #HousingforPeople et #19o