Civil society groups today are sending the WTO Director General
Pascal Lamy an open letter (attached) slamming the highly undemocratic
and deceptive process used to manufacture the services section of the
draft Ministerial Declaration for Hong Kong .

The process used has completely redefined the “consensus” mode of
decision-making. Rather than having a consensus before an item is
included in a negotiating text, it now appears that the Chair of the
Council for Trade in Services (CTS), Mexican Ambassador Fernando de
Mateo can include items he deems appropriate. No consensus is needed.
However, when asked by Members to remove certain text, his response has
been that he requires consensus to do so!

On 13 October, Mateo had released a “Note by the Chairman” on
“Possible Elements for a Draft Ministerial Text on Services”. The text
listed the controversial elements – without brackets – of
“sectoral and modal objectives”, “plurilateral” and “multilateral”
approaches, and “numerical targets and indicators”. These were elements
the majority had already voiced opposition to. (See Annex for
countries’ opposition). He ignored the opposition expressed, and these
elements were reiterated and elaborated upon in his second draft, and
further fleshed out in the 26 October draft text for the Hong Kong
Ministerial. A revised version of the draft is expected to be released
this morning, also with the same elements included.

This process sidelines the positions that the majority of developing
countries have articulated, and their opposition to the introduction of
“complementary approaches”. These approaches would eliminate the
current flexibilities developing countries have enshrined in the GATS
negotiations. The flexibilities are an acknowledgement that in order to
meet national development objectives, countries require time and must
selectively and strategically regulate their liberalization process.

The WTO prides itself on being a rules-based organization. Yet here we have another example of the old saying: The rules of the game, known only to us, are subject to change without notification. And, according to Mike Waghorne from Public Services International, “we
all know who the ‘us’ in that power-play is and in whose interests they
are playing: playing with our services and futures”.

According to Chandra Patel of Seatini “We have noted with concern
the new and undemocratic practice of the Chairmen of various
negotiating Groups preparing drafts purporting to reflect negotiated
consensus: in arrogating this right, the Chairmen have undermined the
long established practice, wherein the negotiating groups as a whole
exercise the right to adopt texts by consensus.


“We urge all developing country and other like-minded WTO members
to reject the new practice of the various Chairmen (including the TNC
and of the General Council) drafting and transmitting texts in their
own capacities”.




Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Carin Small / Alexandra Strickner

Tel: 022 7890724

Email: [email protected] , [email protected]

Third World Network

Sangeeta Shashikant

Tel: 022 9083550

Email: [email protected]

International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied

Workers’ Associations

Peter Rossman,

Tel: 022 793 2233

Email: [email protected]

Public Services International

Mike Waghorne,

Tel: 33 (0)4 50 40 11 70 / +33 685 66 03 41

Email: [email protected]

Focus on the Global South

Aileen Kwa / Jacques-chai Chomthongdi

Tel: 079 625 8536

Email: [email protected] , [email protected]

International Gender and Trade Network

Maria Pia Hernandez

Tel: 022 320 6889

Email: [email protected]

International Metalworkers’ Federation

Carla Coletti

Tel: 022 3085045

Email: [email protected]


Nathali Bernasconi

Email: [email protected]


Chandra Patel

Tel: 079 4701177

Email: [email protected]


Members’ Opposition to “Complementary Approaches” in the Council for Trade in Services

Antigua and Barbuda , Barbados , Jamaica , Dominica , Grenada , St Kitts and Nevis , and St Vincent and the Grenadines :

proposed new approaches would make it impossible for our domestic
service suppliers to maintain their domestic markets. Such deep levels
of liberalisation in more sub-sectors than we would rationally commit
to would undermine our own development goals and objectives. As these
proposals do not aim to facilitate the process of development for small
developing countries, the result would be the “crowding out” of
domestic suppliers. This issue is of significance to the countries
particularly in light of the fact that 50% of the service firms in the
group of countries employ loess than five persons…

proposals require that all Members adopt a similar approach. They do
not take into account the fact that small vulnerable countries such as
those contributing to this statement are unable to undertake the same
pace of liberalisation as larger developing countries….

is regrettable that in this development round, more attention is not
being paid to ensuring that developing countries are actually the
primary beneficiaries of the services negotiations, and not developed
countries who already account for 80% of global services exports”.

African Group

The Group spelt out Article XIX.2 of the GATS on flexibilities for national policy objectives.

it is the group’s view that pre-establishing anything quantitative and
qualitative would go beyond, and in fact reduce the flexibility already
inherent in the GATS provisions stipulated above. Such targets, by
establishing a common benchmark would tend to harmonize the
“development situation” of individual developing countries. This is an
inaccurate measure as countries, even within a similar group have their
own development objectives which would determine individual decisions
regarding their GATS commitments.

although the proposals claim to be complementary to the request-offer
approach, which is recognized in paragraph 11 of the Negotiating
Guidelines as the main method of negotiations, they in fact seek to
replace the request-offer process and leave the latter to play an
insignificant role. This is clearly inconsistent with the mandate in
the negotiating guidelines.

have also failed to show how they relate to achieving the main
objectives of the GATS preamble. The preamble aims at promoting
economic growth and development of developing countries. Moreover the
proposals are contrary to the principles set out in the Doha
Development Agenda which places Development at their top.

the African Group’s assessment, what is lacking in the GATS
negotiations in not a binding formula but the requisite political will
to make commitments. This is most true in the sectors and modes of
interest to developing countries and Mode 4 in particular. In fact we
are of the view that the proposals divert attention from this important
issue …”

ASEAN minus Singapore

Member has scheduled its own limitations in one sector or subsector or
another. We are currently allowed by the Agreement and the Guidelines
to gradually and at our own pace liberalise our markets. And this
opening up, usually takes place where and when it corresponds to
domestic priorities…

“We also
underscore the belief that services liberalisation should be
accompanied by sound macro-economic management and appropriate
regulation and supervision. While we fully recognize the benefits of an
open market, our authorities continue to carefully consider the pace
and sequencing of further liberalisation in sectors of mutual interest,
together with a comprehensive review of our existing regulatory regime
in order to ensure the sustained soundness of our services sectors,
particularly those relating to sensitive systems like financial
services and telecoms, to name a few.

are concerned that these approaches may undermine such flexibility. A
Member may be caught in situations where it has no choice but to
undertake commitments prematurely to fulfill the targets. This may
undermine the principle of progressive liberalisation.

is dangerous to request for an outright agreement on the desirability
of complementary approaches before the design is fully fleshed out. It
is comparable to asking for a blank cheque, and is disconcerting if
viewed in the context of its being possibly extended to encompass
future rounds of negotiations…”


LDC modalities, Rwanda , speaking on behalf of LDCs said, “…LDCs are to
liberalise sectors in accordance with their development situation and
needs. It is therefore our view that requiring LDCs to meet certain
quantitative and qualitative targets is to ignore this flexibility…

addition, many LDCs have not or are in the process of carrying out
assessments and determining their services development plans which are
key in determining the nature and scope of commitments. How then are
the LDCs expected to determine the extent to which they can make

“The LDCs are
therefore in favour of respecting and maintaining the request/offer
approach which allows Members to take into account the flexibilities
granted to LDCs and other developing countries in the services


would like to reiterate that some of the substance of the proposed
complimentary approaches do not seem to take duly into account the
urgent need to fully respect the architecture of the GATS, especially
the specific provisions that grant flexibilities to developing
countries like mine… It is difficult for my delegation, at this point,
to consider any other approach that we think it would erode the
flexibility for developing countries”

“Statement on the Complementary Approach to GATS negotiations”, Council
for Trade in Services Special Session – Informal Session, 22 September
2005, by Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Dominica, Grenada, St.
Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Statement on Complementary Approaches and Intensification of the
Request/Offer Approach”, Joint Statement of Brunei Darussalam,
Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, CTS-SS, September 20
2005, delivered by Mr Manuel A.J.Teehankee, Ambassador and Permanent
Representative of the Philippines to the WTO.

“Statement by the Delegation of Indonesia , SSCTS, 29 September 2005”.