Council for Trade in Services Special Session
2 March 2007
Statement by Norway
Thank you for providing this opportunity to put on record what we view as substantial elements of a final package on services. We believe it is important to ensure parallelism to the other market access negotiations. As soon as agriculture and NAMA enter into more detailed discussions and negotiations it is an imperative that we do the same in services. In this regard, we support your ongoing efforts to keep services on par with the other negotiations areas. We agree with others that it is high time we move into more substance also on services.
Firstly, let me highlight some of Norway’s key objectives in the services negotiations. In short Norway’s aim in the services negotiations is:
1) to elaborate and develop the GATS as an effective tool in the multilateral trading system and
2) to ensure that the trading system through the GATS reflects the massive increase of a more open trade in services.
There are clearly large economic benefits to be reaped for all members, developing as well as developed countries, in opening up the services markets and making commitments in the GATS. The case for more open and predictable trade 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 infrastructure services
Against this background, I would like to emphasize the special importance Norway attaches to maritime transport, energy, telecommunications and financial services. What we aim for in these sectors should be clear from our bilateral requests and the collective requests we are co-sponsoring and that both developing and developed countries are putting their names behind.
At this juncture, I would like to suggest what we see as the most crucial improvements in the mentioned four sectors:
On maritime transport it would be crucial to put the sector in line with other sectors and provide new and improved commitments especially on Mode 1 international maritime transport.
On energy our focus would be on services related to petroleum activities offshore.
On telecommunications we would refer to the collective request.
On financial services, I would like to highlight that our focus is on non-life insurance related to marine and energy activities.
The importance Norway attaches to maritime activities in general in these negotiations should thus be fairly evident.
Before concluding I would also like to provide you with some of our thinking on the process ahead.
In terms of next cluster we would support your proposal for the second half of April so as to allow for sufficient preparations also in capital to get a productive gathering. We are happy to see that most of the co-ordinators for the various friends groups have sent out reminders of the collective requests already, and we believe that the plurilateral requests and process should be utilized to their full potential.
Since we are entering into something that look like the final stages of our negotiations we would support all efforts by the Chair to ensure services are on par with agriculture and NAMA; be it through “Enchilada” talks at ambassadorial level and more senior involvement at clusters.
We know it is too early to set a date for next offers. However, we would be sympathetic to link it to the developments in the other market access areas.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, we all know that the services negotiations are not only about market access. We also have to provide for sufficient time to advance the discussions on domestic regulation and rules. In addition, we would welcome your continued consultations on the LDC modalities and the S&D proposals.