“Encouraging news” in trade negotiations
Trade negotiations among the WTO on trade in services have intensified in the lead up to a potential agreement.
Trade and Competitiveness Minister, Craig Emerson, has welcomed a statement by 44 World Trade Organization members — including Australia — which commits them to intensifying negotiations on an agreement on global trade in services.
The statement, released in Geneva earlier last week, says progress on market access in services among a large number of members had set the base for a broader deal inside the multilateral trading system.
The plan involves breaking the Doha Round impasse by concentrating on areas where agreement is most achievable.
According to reports, Prime Minister Gillard has welcomed the statement, as Gillard has been promoting a “new pathways” approach to global trade liberalisation since April last year when the Government’s trade policy statement was released.
“This latest commitment to step up talks on services is encouraging news for Australia’s services sector, services account for more than three-quarters of Australia’s economic activity, which translates into four in five jobs and over 20 percent of export revenue,” Emerson said.
“Any new agreement would aim to capture the substantial liberalisation of trade in services achieved in recent years. It would include improved market access commitments and new and enhanced trade rules,” he added.
The statement by WTO members follows the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Mexico last month, at which Gillard secured a renewed commitment from members to new approaches on trade negotiations.
“There is also progress on other elements of new pathways, including on trade facilitation and conditions for least developing countries to accede to the WTO,” Emerson said.
Australia currently co-chairs the negotiating group with the United States, other members of the WTO make up 70 percent of the worlds GDP, they include; the EU (comprising 27 countries), Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong China, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Switzerland and Turkey.