Delegation of the European Union to the

UN and other international organisations in Geneva

Services Domestic Regulation Joint Initiative Meeting to conclude the negotiations (co-hosted by Costa Rica, the European Union and Australia), 2 December 2021, Geneva

Geneva, 02/12/2021 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 211202_22
Local Statements

EU co-host statement delivered by Ambassador João Aguiar Machado

Dear Director General, Ambassadors, Dear Colleagues,

It is a pleasure to co-host this meeting on services domestic regulation. I would like to thank the Director-General for taking the time to be with us today and sharing her views at this important moment. I would also like to thank my colleagues from Costa Rica and Australia for their unwavering efforts of the last years, without which we would not be sitting here today.

The event today is not exactly as we had anticipated it. Today, our Ministers were meant to meet in this exact room and conclude the DR JSI negotiations. But this became impossible because of the postponed Ministerial and continuing concerns associated with the Covid pandemics.

However, we heard the call of Director General Ngozi to continue our work, show leadership and deliver good news from Geneva.

This gave us an even stronger motivation to bring the DR JSI negotiations over the finishing line and to do so immediately, especially since we have the negotiated outcome fully prepared with the inputs, hard work and flexibility of our negotiators in capitals and Geneva. Thanks for all your support and readiness to adjust to the situation and conclude the negotiations today.

Today, we are following up on a joint commitment we collectively took two years ago in Paris to finalize the negotiations that had started with the Joint Statement of Buenos Aires in 2017. Since then, several new Members have joined the group and a tremendous amount of work has been done by our negotiators under the valued Chairmanship of Costa Rica. In particular, warm welcome to the Philippines and Bahrain who joined our negotiations most recently.

We are here today to conclude our negotiations in this JSI and on the Reference Paper with domestic regulation disciplines. This step will allow us to commence our respective domestic procedures required for the certification of our improved schedules of commitments, which will give legal effect to the negotiated disciplines.

The work on services domestic regulation is of critical importance. It is the first WTO deliverable in the area of trade in services since a very long time. Our additional commitments for domestic regulation will benefit all other WTO Members by giving them the reassurance that we will apply good regulatory and administrative practices also to their service suppliers. 

Good regulatory practices are crucial for the well-functioning of today’s economy. I believe that the clear rules on transparency and authorisation in the area of services – that were agreed as part of this initiative – will facilitate trade in services significantly. Especially for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises who do not have the same resources and experience to cope with complex processes as their larger competitors.

The services sector has been hit hard by the pandemic – as other parts of our economy. The adoption and implementation of the disciplines of the reference paper will reduce trade costs for service suppliers substantially and thus help the sector in its recovery. It is a sector where women entrepreneurs often play an important role. The reference paper recognises this role by ensuring non-discrimination between men and women in authorisation processes. This is the first rule of this kind in the WTO.

Delivering on the WTO services agenda is a long overdue objective we all have. Since Buenos Aires, we have collectively developed a pragmatic approach to negotiations. We have allowed groups of interested Members to advance negotiations on some important issues – through open, inclusive and transparent processes.

Today, we prove that this plurilateral approach can lead to tangible results. This demonstrates that the Joint Initiative model is a viable one. A large and diverse group of WTO Members can work together towards a common objective, overcome their differences, show flexibility and agree on tangible results that are important for businesses and consumers.

I believe that this Joint Initiative can be a source of inspiration for work in other areas, allowing interested Members to move ahead while ensuring that the outcome, in its substance and its form, remains supportive of and strengthens the multilateral trading system.


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