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EU puts forward revised WTO requests on services

26/01/2005 11:24
The European Union presented Tuesday revised requests in World Trade Organisation negotiations over the opening of the services market, a key subject in the current so-called Doha round of multilateral free-trade talks.

"We wanted to put forward a revised request to encourage talks. For the EU, it is necessary to relaunch services negotiations, where catching up is needed," said Claude Veron-Reville, a spokesperson for European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said.

The new requests, which follow the EU's initial demands in July 2002, are addressed to 103 of the WTO's 148 member countries and excluded sectors such as healthcare and audiovisual, for which the EU has made no offer.
The requests give preferential treatment to the least developed countries, which would have to open only two out of five markets targeted by the EU: telecommunications, financial services, transport, construction and environmental services.

Under the current Doha round of trade talks, WTO member countries must make offers and requests on negociation, agriculture, services and non-agricultural market access.

The EU is to make an improved offer on services in May this year, the spokeswoman said.

An agreement to relaunch the current round of trade negociations was based on progress in agriculture while delays in talks on services and industrial tarifs have grown.

"The European offer for services is one of the most ambitious and has unfortunately not received similar responses from other member countries, said Veron-Reville.

The current round of negotiations on a global trade agreement were launched in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001, amid a climate of international solidarity following the September 11 attacks on the United States.

But the talks soon ran into trouble, deadlocked by bitter North-South disagreements notably over the issue of agriculture, forcing the WTO to scrap a planned end-2004 deadline for the conclusion of the round.