Written by Birgit Viohl, TCF Key Expert in Trade Policy
The EU-Indonesia Trade Cooperation Facility (TCF) sent five officials from the Indonesian Ministry of Trade (MoT) to Geneva in October 2015 for an intensive training programme on trade in services. The programme comprised a number of training sessions planned in small groups, coaching, discussions and meetings with relevant international organisations, all planned and facilitated by the World Trade Institute Advisors (WTIA), a specialised law firm based in Geneva.
Thanks to the opportunity to attend meetings of various WTO bodies on trade in services during the eight day programme, the officials gained a real-world insight into trade in services negotiations at the WTO. They were also able to discuss relevant issues, including developments under the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), with experts from the WTIA, the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), further sharpening their legal and technical understanding of specific issues related to trade in services.
The multi-lateral negotiations on trade in services (details of progress of the WTO negotiations emerge next month at the tenth ministerial conference) have not advanced significantly for years, with the TISA and regional trade in services negotiations setting the direction for cross-border trade in services regulation instead. The participants therefore appreciated learning about the TISA and discussing it with experts, prompting reflections on how this situation impacts on negotiations, in which Indonesia is currently involved, namely with regards to the approach to hybrid scheduling. Other issues discussed during the meetings at the WTO were transparency commitments and classification of new services.
This is what one of the participants said about the experience:
“I found this internship programme very useful since the logic behind it has been to give us a first-hand insight into how the trade in services is being negotiated at the multi-lateral level. From the knowledge and experience gained from the programme, I have reached the conclusion that, in the future, services should possibly attract a more proportionate amount of attention alongside other trade, as well as economic, issues, thereby helping to create a more balanced national economic policy.”
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