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requests_offers_approach_e - WTO Seminar on the GATS 20...

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WTO Seminar on the GATS, 20 February 2002 TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF REQUESTS AND OFFERS Summary of presentation by the Secretariat The request to address this subject came from some delegations at a meeting of the Special Session of the Services Council. This presentation is mainly based on previous experience and will try to highlight the technical aspects of the process of submitting requests and offers in the context of negotiations. It must not be seen as pre-empting any alternative course of action participants might wish to take. This presentation addresses mainly three aspects of both requests and offers. That is, the content, the format in which requests and offers may be submitted and finally the process through which requests and offers could be exchanged. In Paragraph 15 of the Doha Declaration, Ministers agreed that participants shall submit initial requests for specific commitments by 30 June 2002 and initial offers by 31 March 2003. The word "initial" is of course indicative of the reality of the negotiating process being a succession of requests and offers. These dates only mark the start of the process. However, this must not in any way reduce the importance of those dates. They represent a political commitment by Ministers. It is important to keep in mind that when each Participant submits an initial request it does not have to be exhaustive and a Participant does not necessarily have to think of every conceivable item it wishes to request of other participants. In order to meet the dates, it might be necessary to avoid seeking perfection which might cause delays. REQUESTS A. Content There are possibly four types of contents in a request, which are not mutually exclusive. Such a request may be addressed to a group of participants or to an individual participant. (i) The first is that a participant may request of another the addition of sectors that are not included in its schedule. (ii) The second type is requesting the removal of existing limitations or reducing its level of restrictiveness (e.g. in sector x there may be a foreign equity limitation of 49 per cent, a request may be pointed at the removal of that limitation or improving it by raising the 49 per cent to say 75 per cent). A request may also be directed at an "unbound" entry, with a view to establishing a binding, be it with or without limitations. Such requests always relate to commitments on market access (Article XVI) and/or national treatment (Article XVII). (iii) There may also be requests for additional commitments (Article XVIII), which may relate to matters not falling within the scope of Articles XVI and XVII, i.e. the type of commitments contained in the Reference Paper on regulatory principles in basic telecommunications. A number of such requests have been actually exchanged during the Uruguay Round and corresponding commitments were undertaken.
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- 2 - (iv) Finally, a request may also relate to the removal of MFN exemptions. Paragraph 6 of the Annex on MFN Exemptions foresees that existing exemptions will be subject to negotiations in successive rounds of negotiations.
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