Saturday, December 18, 2004

GATS: The Enemy of the People of the World

UPDATE: End of November/beginning of December the second negotiating week in fall 2004 took place. Among the "highlights" of this negotiating session figures a joint statement of 13 developed countries, plus Mexico, Chile and India, calling for an acceleration of negotiations in services.

Furthermore, El Salvador tabled its offer, while Malaysia and Egypt indicated that they plan to table an offer soon. According to Geneva source, the Chair of the services negotiations and the WTO Secretariat try to portray the negotiations as being at a critical stage and that something urgent needs to be done to make them more dynamic.

Among other ideas, it seems there is a discussion on whether to revisit the negotiating process. To date issues such as subsidies, safeguard measures, government procurement and questions related to domestic regulation are discussed in a multilateral setting. Market access is negotiated in bilateral meetings.

One proposal suggests to establish quantitative benchmarks, such as agreement that a certain number of new sectors should be covered by commitments, or a certain number of trade barriers eliminated. Such an approach would define a certain minium level of progress. The mere fact that such proposals are discussed undermines the highly praised flexibility of the GATS that is supposed to leave each member free to decide whether they wish to commit to liberalization of any given services sector at all, and if so, to what extent they would liberalize.

The next services session will take place in February (7th to the 25th). It is expected that the demandeurs in this area (EC, US, Japan, Switzerland etc.) will present revised requests to developing countries. The three weeks will certainly be used to further excert pressure on developing countries to submit offers. A large number of business representatives are again expected to be present in Geneva to meet and lobby developing country delegates.

What will your respective government going to offer or request? Do you know any information about their negotiation process? What we can do to get out from the dark?

The ASA will work together with you to expose the hypocrisy and the greedy of the TNC in influence the government to agree the GATS. We need to pressure our government to let u sknow the process.