Group of WTO Members Plans to Speed Up Talks on Services Trade

Nineteen World Trade Organization governments exploring a global agreement on trade in services agreed to step up discussions as of September with a goal of beginning formal negotiations by the end of the year.

Following exploratory talks into ways to promote the liberalization of services trade, governments including the U.S., the European Union, Australia and Peru said in a joint statement that they will now aim to define the contours of an “ambitious agreement.” Three of the world’s fastest-growing emerging economies, Brazil, China and India, aren’t involved in the discussions.

“This reflects the EU’s goal to re-energize services trade liberalization in a manner that is both consistent with and complementary to the WTO,” EU Ambassador Angelos Pangratis said in a statement from Geneva today. “The initiative follows the guidance of ministers given at the eighth ministerial conference to fully explore ‘different negotiating approaches’ to areas under discussion in the Doha Development Agenda.”

The group of governments plans to broaden the discussions to include other countries, particularly developing economies. Any accord should be comprehensive and include market-access commitments that correspond with actual practice, they said in a joint statement, adding that “the outcomes of the agreement could then be brought into the multilateral system.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer M. Freedman in Geneva at jfreedman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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