Council for Trade in Services Special Session
27 April 2007
Statement of Norway
At the outset, let me briefly touch upon our experience from this latest round of market access meetings. We have had about a dozen of bilateral meetings and most of them have been very useful in complementing the plurilateral process. As regards the plurilateral meetings themselves, they have been relatively well attended and in our view proved useful in focusing on what members might be able to include in their revised offers. We have a clearer picture now than before the cluster, but there remains a lot of work.
So what can we do at this stage? If we are to conclude the Doha round by the end of the year, we would need also in services (substantial) progress by the summer break. The key focus now on services should be how we best can contribute to a break through for the Round as a whole.
In our opinion, various avenues should be explored simultaneously to ensure a continuous high level attention on services. Firstly, we think your ongoing “Enchilada-meetings” at ambassadorial level should play a key role in getting closer to a possible deal on services. Here we would welcome a more thorough horizontal assessment of where we stand in services and what could be possible to achieve in order to match the ambition in agriculture and NAMA. We trust your judgements and ongoing consultations on whether this should be done through addressing all plurilateral requests or by having more focused discussion on sectors and modes that seem to be hindering progress. In any event, Norway’s premise for engaging actively in these negotiations remains to be no a priory exclusion of sectors. It would be a real pity if we miss an opportunity to harvest the potential for an increased level of bindings in the GATS, which our work so far has demonstrated. As we underlined in the Special Session 2 March, our priority sectors remain maritime, energy, telecom and financial services.
Secondly, we think it would be important to at least tentatively set a date for a Special Session sometime in June to again take stock of where we are. We need some indication of timelines. However, we believe we have to play it by the ear on what exactly should be discussed when and in what format. In our view, the continuous high level attention that should be given to services should be assured through your on-going “Enchiladas” both at ambassadorial level or senior official level.
The way we see it, all essential elements are in play. That means that even though the main focus have to be on market access in order to keep services on par with agriculture and NAMA, we must also address domestic regulations, rules, S&D and LDC-modalities as part of the end game.
The question is; how do we handle all these elements in order for services to contribute to a breakthrough for the Round? We have no hard and fast answers to such a question, but in our minds a breakthrough must provide a solid basis for an end game which includes all sectors and elements of essential interest to participants. We note with interest the ideas put forward by the EC and assume that also the convergence process among the major players will provide clarity on how to treat services during the coming months.
To conclude, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for your continuous efforts and assure you of Norway’s support and active engagement in the critical weeks and months to come.