Services in the Doha Declaration - Comparing the Drafts


GATS Basics

GATS 2000

GATS Debate







Geneva, 30 October 2019 - On October 27th 2001, the WTO Secretariat released a second series of draft documents for the Doha Ministerial Conference. These documents address issues relating to trade in services in the preamble and in paragraph 15 of the second draft Ministerial Declaration, but do not address any services issues in the revised versions of the documents relating to implementation. The new drafts fail to address concerns civil society has raised with respect to the first draft and in addition raise new, even more pressing concerns. In particular the new drafts:

  • Have eliminated previous references to services in the implementation text and continue to lack references to Article IV, an implementation issue crucial for developing countries:

    Tiret 85, Para 8 of the old implementation draft contained the following language:

    "Recalling and reaffirming the provisions of the General Agreement on Trade in Services, the General Council notes that Members agree that administrative practices should not impede full and faithful implementation of their commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services, particularly as regards the supply of services under Mode 4."
    Neither the second Doha Ministerial Declaration draft, nor the Compilation of Outstanding Implementation Issues, or the revised Decision on Implementation Related Issues and Concerns contain a reference to services. Also all three of these documents lack an explicit reference to Article IV GATS.

  • Might allow negotiators to expand services negotiations beyond the currently mandated or built in agenda negotiations:

    Para 15 of the second draft declaration mentions:

    The negotiations on trade in services shall be conducted with a view to promoting the economic growth of all trading partners and the development of developing countries.
    Whilst para 12 of the previous draft explicitly referred to:
    The mandated negotiations on trade in services...
    This new language could be used to integrate new elements of negotiations into the currently already overloaded agenda. This practice would be of particular concern when applied to issues, which were explicitly left out of the GATS negotiating guidelines, for example a technical review of the GATS.

  • Could be used to accelerate services negotiations by introducing a deadline for submitting initial request and offers:

    Para 15 of the second draft declaration explicitly states:

    Participants shall submit initial requests for specific commitments by ... and initial offers by ...
    Neither the first Draft Ministerial Declaration, nor the March 2002 Negotiating Guidelines, or the Roadmap decision adopted in March 2001 contained such a specific deadline. Including a deadline for submitting initial request and offers will further overload developing countries with already limited resources in Geneva.

In addition, the second drafts fail to address concerns which have been expressed with the first draft. In particular the new services paragraph still:

  • fails to acknowledge that liberalization of services trade may have negative implications for the attainment of legitimate policy objectives, such as sustainable development, human development, the protection of marginalized societies and local communities, the promotion of human rights and the provision of basic services such as education, health and water;
  • fails to explicitly recognize the need to conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of the effects of trade in services and its liberalization before continuing with current GATS negotiations, in particular before starting to submit requests and offers as indicated above;
  • uses the GATS as a stepping stone to agree upon investment negotiations in a possible New Round;
  • uses the Ministerial Declaration as a means to introduce a deadline for concluding the GATS built in agenda negotiations - an issue which was explicitly left open in the development of the Negotiating Guidelines.

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