Politico | 2 June 2016
Trade in Services Agreement ministerial round in Paris
By Hans von der Burchard and Alberto Mucci
Ministers from the WTO economies negotiating the Trade in Services Agreement met for two hours on the sidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, but made no substantial improvements on any of the thorniest issues, our Alberto Mucci reports from Paris. For one, TISA economies have been clashing over how much freedom they should be given to discriminate against foreign suppliers of “new services,” which are really just any services sectors that have popped up since the early ’90s. A source who has seen the negotiating documents told Alberto that the EU, Norway, South Korea and Switzerland are pushing for broader “national treatment” exceptions for new services, while the U.S. is demanding that there be no exceptions, arguing that carve outs would undermine the negative list approach, under which all sectors are liberalized except those specifically listed.
More about those new services
For example, the EU says that cloud computing is not already covered in existing categories and should therefore be left out of the agreement, while the U.S. position argues that past General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) obligations on computer network services cover cloud computing where only the technical details of the networking have changed.
The big idea behind TiSA
A person involved in the negotiations told Morning Trade that it intended to create a sort of “golden rule” on market access when it comes to services. The source added that when the EU and the U.S. finally find common ground, the deal will be done, as other countries are likely to follow suits. Despite the different views in Europe and the United States, the incentive to finalize an agreement is strong: If the EU and U.S. establish the rules today, everyone else will have to follow tomorrow — and not only the 21 other countries involved in TiSA.
China applied to be part of the TiSA negotiations but was blocked by the U.S. for “geopolitical reasons,” a person familiar with the negotiations said. If China was allowed to take part in the ongoing negotiations it would have the right to put forward its demands and would have the political weight to demand they are listed too, something the U.S. does not want.
Digital business group asks TiSA countries to move forward on the trade digital agenda: In an open letter, groups including Digital Europe, the New Zealand Technology Association as well as the Asian Trade Center asked “to combat the increasing trend of digital protectionism.”