Urges WTO Members to Recognize Vital Role of Services in Economic Growth and Development
Washington, DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today released a report, “The Doha Development Agenda and GATS: The Benefits of Open Services Markets,” which focuses on the critical role of services in generating broad economic growth and development, and the Doha Round’s potential to provide substantial economic benefits through major services liberalization and improved rules.
“In almost every country, the performance of the services sector can make the difference between rapid and sluggish growth. The NFTC report shows that the services sector is an essential backbone of an economy and directly linked to growing and competitive markets for agriculture and industrial goods,” stated Mary Irace, NFTC Vice President for Trade and Export Finance.
“While the major focus in Geneva right now is to achieve a real breakthrough on modalities for agriculture and industrial goods, our report underscores what WTO members stand to lose by failure to achieve deeper and wider services liberalization – a third core element of the Doha Round. Both developing and developed countries have a significant stake in this, with over 50 developing countries now exporting more than $1 billion in services each year. Four of them –
“The NFTC study also takes GATS’ critics to task for misrepresenting the facts about the services negotiations. Contrary to much unfounded criticism, the GATS promotes the adoption of transparent and good governance approaches to domestic regulation and the voluntary, progressive and orderly opening of markets. It also preserves domestic regulatory autonomy, especially in ‘public good’ sectors such as education and health,” said Irace.
“Services account for almost half of the global stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) and open and transparent services markets are a catalyst for technological progress and thriving economies. Clearly, a balanced and ambitious outcome on services in the Doha Round – especially concerning the core infrastructural sectors that exert significant economy-wide effects – are good for development and good for global economic growth,” said Irace.
The NFTC report provides additional policy recommendations, including support for a collective and plurilateral approach to sectoral liberalization to facilitate deeper liberalization, rules to strengthen transparency of domestic regulations, broad sectoral coverage, and progress in all modes of supply.
“As the success of the Doha Round is in jeopardy, it is vital for the future of world economies to not overlook the fundamental importance of liberalizing services markets as a means to generate increased trade and foster economic development,” Irace concluded.
A copy of the report can be viewed online at http://www.nftc.org/default/trade/doha%20round/NFTC%20Services%20Paper.pdf, post-embargo.