Norway’s statement in the CTS-SS
on Review of progress in negotiations
The context of our assessment is based on the various presentations on services to this body from UNCTAD, the OECD and others, where it has been made clear that there are large economic benefits for all participants to open up the services markets and making commitments in the GATS. The case for liberalization is particularly strong with respect to services which are providing the infrastructure for business and economic activity. The end result of these negotiations must therefore ensure high quality commitments on infrastructural services, such as telecommunications and computer related services, transport services, energy services and financial services.
This winter and spring we have seen a number of initial offers from members as well as a number of revised offers. Some of these offers include high quality commitments in certain sectors, and I would particularly like to thank Pakistan and Jamaica for their improved offers in telecommunication services. These offers are commendable and encouraging. Unfortunately, they are not typical.
Our contribution to the assessment of the services negotiations includes four of the main priorities of Norway in these negotiations: maritime transport services, telecommunication services, financial services and energy related services.
Maritime transport services:
We support the statement made by Japan on the assessment of maritime transport services and its emphasis on the need for high quality and meaningful offers. It is encouraging that two thirds of the offers include offers on maritime transport, however much work remains in this key sector. The markets for international maritime transport services are generally open, but the level of commitments and offers on the table remain low. Narrowing this gap is the main challenge in this sector.
[Norway is associating itself with the statement on the assessment of telecommunication services made by Singapore.] Even if some promising offers have been tabled, we are disappointed by the large number of offers in this key sector still missing, and that too many offers have severe restrictions on Mode 3, limiting the share of foreign ownership, and thus effectively making themselves less attractive for foreign direct investment. In that regard, we fully support the EC’s statement yesterday on the importance of Mode 3 commitments.
Regarding financial services, our assessment is that we still have a long way to go. There have been some modest improvements in some of the offers since the last services cluster. However, the overall level of ambition displayed is low and substantial improvements are needed for all modes of supply and for most sub sectors of financial services. We are specifically looking for full commitments on cross border supply of non-life insurance in international transport.
On energy related services
While few offers were included in the initial offers, Members who have presented a revised offer seem more inclined to include commitments for energy services, thus resulting in some level of improvement for the sector. For example, at this time, 39 Members have offered commitments at some level for services incidental to mining and 37 Members have some commitments for related scientific and technical consulting services. However, it is clear that we still have a long way to go, both with respect to the quality of the services and the number of offers.
Our overall assessment of the offers on the table is, unfortunately, that the general level of ambition is still disappointing. Major economies, including large emerging economies, have largely failed to table substantial improvements in their commitments. In order to reach an acceptable level of offers, substantial improvements in the offers on infrastructural services have to be made.
The assessment of offers on the table today also implies an assessment of the effectiveness of the bilateral request/offer process. Unfortunately, despite recent efforts by a number of countries, the present method of negotiation has not provided the results we were expecting. This delegation would therefore be open to exploring supplementary methods of harvesting results, staying clearly within the existing negotiating guidelines and procedures.
Making substantial progress in the services negotiations must also be seen in the context of successfully concluding the Doha Development Round as a whole. In this respect, we are quickly reaching a critical stage in our services negotiations, simply by the fact that we are running out of time. We support the concept of a work program leading up to the
Hong Kong Ministerial.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
1 July 2005