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Talks to Liberalize Trade in Services Reach “Turning Point”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The European Union, which will host the next round of negotiations on a Trade in Services Agreement in Brussels this week, believes the talks are “on track” and have reached a “turning point” with almost all initial market access offers submitted. There are 23 participants in the TISA talks (counting the 28-member EU as a single entity), which the EU states aim to “go beyond simply further opening up markets for services” by developing “new rules on trade in services, such as those applying to government procurement of services, licensing procedures or access to communication networks.”

An EU press release notes that since negotiations were launched last March, 20 participants have tabled their initial bids listing which of their services markets they are prepared to open up and to what degree. Paraguay, Chile and Pakistan have yet to do so, but an International Trade Daily article cites officials involved in the talks as saying these offers “are essentially completed and due to be submitted shortly.” The market access offers will be the subject of three days of talks when the next round gets underway, the EU states, followed by five days of discussion on regulations in specific services sectors.  Six topics have been chosen for detailed discussion: financial services, telecommunication and e-commerce, domestic regulation and transparency, professional services, maritime transport and “mode 4” (the cross-border supply of services by foreign persons). Participants will also exchange views on road transport, competitive delivery services and air transport.

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