8 Oct 2012
Regulating services in a globalised context
The WTI and the Trade Department of the World Bank jointly organized a panel on services regulation at the recent WTO Public Forum. The Panel joined academics and practitioners for a highly interactive session.
Services regulation becomes increasingly significant against the backdrop of rapidly growing preferentialism in services in the last decade. Since the beginning of 2012, a plurilateral initiative on services is gaining momentum.
Trade barriers in services typically take the form of regulatory measures. While it may be necessary to regulate entry into a market to ensure a level playing field, to mitigate sub-optimal first mover advantages or to ensure that universal services obligations are met, it is also essential that such regulation does not take the form of protectionism. This is not only a question of rule-making, but also one of implementation. There is also the additional challenge of dealing with the consequences of non-discriminatory regulation.
The panel deliberated on these and related issues, with the session moderated by Anirudh Shingal, Senior Research Fellow at the WTI. The panel included Bernard Hoekman from the World Bank, Peter Morrison from the WTO, Marion Jansen from the ILO and Markus Krajewski from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Peter Morrison began with an overview of the efforts to negotiate disciplines on this subject since the Uruguay Round. Markus Krajewski followed by arguing the case for a paradigm shift in international trade negotiations to facilitate movement from disciplining to promoting services regulation. Marion Jansen drew lessons for services regulation from regulatory experiences in the field of SPS, TBT and TRIPs. Bernard Hoekman spoke about the World Bank’s initiatives in plugging the gaps in knowledge and information on this subject, referring in particular to the Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) and Services Knowledge Platforms (SKP).
Topics of interest in the Q&A included the role of, and relationship between, services regulators and trade negotiators at both the national and international level; the role of trade-related technical assistance in strengthening or adjusting domestic regulation; and the design of legal provisions and different forms of international dialogue and cooperation from the point of view of their potential to facilitate the adoption of non-discriminatory regulation in the services sector.