WTO members conclude negotiations on services domestic regulation

The sixty-seven WTO members participating in the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation announced the conclusion of negotiations. The new text covers licensing and qualification requirements, procedures and technical standards. It seeks to make the domestic processes regulating the authorization to supply a service clearer, more predictable and more transparent, and not unduly burdensome. The outcome of these negotiations will be applied on a ‘most-favoured nation’ basis, meaning that it will benefit the full WTO membership. The text also includes a provision on non-discrimination between men and women, the first of its kind to be included in a WTO negotiated document.

The JSI on Services Domestic Regulation is a process carried out among a subset of WTO Members and does not enjoy the support of the full WTO Membership. As a consequence, the new agreement cannot be adopted by the WTO as a multilateral treaty. Instead, participating members have agreed to incorporate the agreement as a set of new commitments in their General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) schedules. The JSI on services domestic regulations has also been criticized because it could steer efforts away from the Working Party on Domestic Regulation, created in 1999 through multilateral consensus, with the mandate to develop generally applicable rules and to develop disciplines for individual services sectors.