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Administration Holds Hearing on Negotiating Objectives for International Services Agreement

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Administration Holds Hearing on Negotiating Objectives for International Services Agreement

The Interagency Trade Policy Group held a public hearing March 12 on the U.S. negotiating objectives for the recently-announced International Services Agreement, an effort by the United States and 20 other trading partners to achieve an ambitious plurilateral deal that eliminates or reduces barriers to services traded either on a cross-border basis or through a foreign commercial presence. The ISA negotiations should begin in early spring and will initially include Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey. This group represents nearly two-thirds of global trade in services and could expand as negotiations progress.

Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Services Christopher P. Melly indicated at the hearing that the USTR has received nearly 50 written submissions on the ISA, in addition to the 12 witnesses representing a broad range of interests who testified at the hearing. He added that U.S. objectives for the agreement include ensuring that U.S. service suppliers can compete on the basis of quality and competence rather than nationality; securing greater regulatory transparency and predictability from U.S. trading partners; and addressing new issues arising in the global marketplace. “Our overarching goal is to create an environment that enables our service suppliers to do what they do best, anywhere in the world,” said Melly. Witnesses at the hearing included, among others, the U.S. Coalition of Service Industries, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. Issues raised at the hearing included enhanced market access and national treatment, cross-border data flows, state-owned enterprises, and regulatory barriers and regulatory discretion.

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