On 2 December 2021, Israel was one of 67 WTO Members participating in the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation to announce the successful conclusion of the first services related outcome at the WTO in 24 years. The agreement is aimed at making it easier and less expensive for business to operate in foreign markets by lowering administrative costs and cutting red tape. It is estimated that business, especially small business, could save USD 150 billion in annual trade costs from implementing the new disciplines, with particularly important gains for financial, business, communications and transport services.
Major WTO Members such as the US, EU and China signed up to the Agreement that covers over 90 percent of global trade in services. However, the outcome of these negotiations will not only be applied to the signees but will benefit the full WTO membership. The declaration can be accessed here and the full list of participants in the negotiations is available here.
The new disciplines — covering licensing and qualification requirements and procedures as well as technical standards — seek to make the domestic processes regulating the authorization to supply a service clearer, more predictable and more transparent and not unduly burdensome. This will boost growth and development, particularly for growing economies like Israel and deliver tangible results for both business and consumers.
Several Members, including Israel, also made commitments to apply these practices to additional sectors, such as business and environmental services. Meanwhile, all Members agreed to apply the provision on non-discrimination between men and women, which is the first of its kind to be included in a WTO negotiated text and seeks to boost women’s participation in services trade.
The press conference can be viewed here.
A factsheet on the negotiations can be found here.
WTO Secretariat research on the increasing prevalence of the domestic regulation disciplines in trade agreements and their potential linkages with economic performance is available here.