16 WTO waiver on services for least developed
countries: EU offer |
|Committee's decision||Cleared from scrutiny; further information requested
|Document details||Proposal for a Council Decision on the EU's formal notification to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the preferences for Least-Developed Countries in the services sectors
|Legal base||Articles 207(4) and 218(9)TFEU; consensus
|Department||Business, Innovation and Skills
|Document Number ||(37085),
Summary and Committee's conclusions
16.1 In 2011, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreed the so-called
The 'LDC Services Waiver', which allows members to waive the usual
non-discrimination rules by treating the exports of services from
the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in a preferential manner
compared with exports of services by other WTO members.
16.2 Since then, there has been a lack of progress
within the WTO in realising these preferences, but in December
2013, WTO Ministers agreed to put in place a process for members
to make their offers. Although we have yet to receive an official
text, we understand that a proposed Council Decision will seek
agreement on the terms of the EU's offer. We have also been told
that the UK supports the offer.
16.3 As this document would enable the EU to agree
the basis on which to implement the waiver on services granted
by the WTO for the least developed countries, it appears to be
relatively straightforward in policy terms.
16.4 However, we note the Government's assertion
that the UK's JHA opt-in applies to the Decision, despite the
absence of a Title V legal basis, on the grounds that it contains
JHA content. The Government will be aware of the Committee's opposition
to this approach. We ask the Minister to write to us to identify,
precisely, the nature and extent of the JHA content he refers
to in his Explanatory Memorandum, in accordance with his own Government's
opt-in policy. We also ask for a copy of the Written Ministerial
Statement to Parliament notifying Members of the purported opt-in
decision once notified to the EU institutions.
16.5 We have been unable to report this document
to the House prior to its anticipated adoption in late September
or early October. This is because of the delay in the production
of an official text and, to a much lesser extent, the intervention
of the Conference recess.
16.6 We note that this delay has deprived the
Committee of the usual eight weeks to scrutinise the purported
opt-in decision prior to the Decision's likely adoption. However,
in the specific circumstances, we do not take issue with this,
particularly since the Minister has provided us with some indication
of the factors which have influenced the Government towards a
decision to participate.
16.7 We now clear the document from scrutiny.
However, when the Minister responds to us on the questions we
raise in paragraph 16.4 above, we ask him to confirm the date
of the document's adoption (if it has already taken place by then)
or likely adoption.
details of the document:
Proposal for a Council
Decision agreeing the European Union's formal notification to
the World Trade Organization of the preferences for Least-Developed
Countries in the services sector: (37085), .
16.8 In 2011, the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
agreed the so-called The 'LDC Services Waiver', which allows members
to waive the usual non-discrimination rules by treating the exports
of services from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in a preferential
manner compared with exports of services by other WTO members.
Since then, there has been a lack of progress within the WTO in
realising these preferences, but in December 2013, WTO Ministers
agreed to put in place a process for members to make their offers.
The current document
16.9 Although we have yet to receive an official
text, the Government has told that a proposal for a Council Decision
is expected shortly, which would seek agreement to the EU's formal
offer to the WTO of the preferences it intends to grant LDCs in
the services sector.
The Government's view
16.10 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 7 August 2015,
the Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Maude) says the Government
is a strong supporter of the Services Waiver, which will guarantee
market access for LDCs in the world's largest markets, and play
an important role in creating employment, driving export diversification
and economic development. He adds that the UK has been influential
in developing the EU's offer, and that it supports the current
16.11 He explains that there are wider benefits of
the Waiver. These include:
progress in implementing the WTO Bali Agreement, as members discuss
the Post-Bali agenda and work towards the 10th WTO Ministerial
in Kenya in December;
the importance of trade, rather than just aid, in promoting sustainable
development, in the year that the Post-2015 development agenda
will be finalised; and
the LDCs market access to export services in the world's largest
markets growing exports of services in LDCs can create
employment and drive export diversification and economic development.
16.12 He also suggests that the offer may also bring
economic benefits to the UK, through increased competition and
by improving access to services for consumers and business. However,
these are likely to be small, given the low level of services
exports from the LDCs.
16.13 The Minister also draws attention to the proposed
legal base for the Council Decision (Articles 207(4) and 218(9)
TFEU), pointing out that the Decision has JHA content, and that,
in view of the prospective benefits, the Government is minded
to opt in.
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