Source: World Trade Organisation
Title: WTO: Lamy: Speech by the WTO DG at the Global Services Summit, Washington
It gives me great pleasure to join you for the Global Services Summit on
Jobs, Growth and Development. Your gathering could not have come at a more
We are just a year past the catastrophic collapse of Lehman Brothers. Since
then we have faced the deepest and most global economic crisis since the
1930s. The effects have been devastating and no economy has been spared. But
thankfully, through the concerted action of governments, the worst has been
World economy on the path to recovery but still fragile
But there is no room complacency. While fresh buds of recovery are emerging,
the situation is still fragile. World economic growth has slowed abruptly in
2008 and the early part of this year. The contraction in demand led to a
slowdown in production, and in international trade. World merchandise trade
is projected to fall by a full 10 per cent this year, its worst result since
the end of the Second World War. Foreign direct investment, which fell by 15
per cent in 2008, is projected to drop further.
The WTO responded quickly to the financial crisis by cautioning against
isolationist policies. One of my first initiatives, in the aftermath of the
crisis, was to establish a monitoring mechanism - a type of WTO "radar
screen" to help Members fight against protectionist pressures by ensuring
transparency in the measures taken in response to the crisis. So far, thanks
in large measure to WTO rules we have not seen a "tsunami" of protectionism.
But, all is not well with the global economy. Our monitoring reports show
that trade restrictive measures are currently outpacing trade facilitating
measures by a ratio of 2 to 1, despite G-20 pledges to refrain from such
Unemployment remains high and the International Labour Organization tells us
that it will continue to rise. The worst of the crisis may be behind us but
a sudden chill wind of protectionism can still freeze the buds of recovery.
This is why we must remain vigilant to ensure an open international trading
system. The best way to achieve that objective is no secret: keep opening
trade and commit to the multilateral trading system.
A Tale of a Crisis and a Casualty
Many economic commentators have since described and analyzed the factors
involved in the financial crisis. And if you would allow me, as a former
banker, I would like to venture some thoughts. On the crisis, I think the
verdict is now clear. On the left side of the balance sheet, there was
nothing right, and on the right side there was nothing left. Thankfully,
that is not the case with trading system.
More seriously, it does seem to me that rather than any economic analyst, it
was perhaps Charles Dickens who best captured the prevailing situation. He
once said, and I quote:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of
wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was
the epoch of incredulity"
While Dickens did not have the global economy in mind, his words do seem to
me to be particularly fitting. So, allow me to take some liberties with
Dickens and continue with, "A Tale of a Crisis and a Casualty". In this
tale, the villains of the crisis are "macroeconomic imbalances", "lax
supervision" and "regulatory failures". You all know the story well. What
started as a financial crisis, fuelled by insufficient regulation, turned
swiftly into the worst economic crisis in generations and the first truly
global crisis in the history of mankind.
Trade, or more specifically financial services liberalization, was neither a
villain nor a cause of this crisis but a casualty. As you all know, in the
world of the GATS, "liberalization" is essentially about opening specified
sectors to competition on a non-discriminatory basis. It does not mean
deregulation. It has long been recognized that opening up certain services,
such as financial and telecom services, may require a regulatory framework
in order to protect consumer interests, and ensure competitive markets. It
is no coincidence that the GATS Annex on Financial Services preserves the
right of Members to take measures for prudential reasons even if they do not
conform to its obligations under the Agreement.
Indeed, the unsung hero in the economic recession has been the service
sector. While goods trade has plummeted, services have been comparatively
Re-energizing the service sector will be key to stimulating economic
recovery. Services are after all vital for leveraging production,
distribution and consumption in the global economy. During the crisis, the
liquidity crunch badly affected the availability of trade finance, the
credit system that oils international trade. Without the continual flow of
this vital service, trade in goods would have been hampered.
But the beneficial impact of services goes much further than "trade
finance". Services underpin virtually every economic activity needed in the
design, production and distribution of other goods and services. It is not
surprising that since the 1980s, world services trade has actually been
growing more rapidly than world production and merchandise trade. Today,
more than half of annual world foreign direct investment flows are accounted
for by services.
Services trade as a stimulus for global economic recovery
Services may no longer be the "new kid" on the trade block, but it still has
some way to go to reaching its full potential. Services account for nearly
two-thirds of global economic activity but less than one-fifth of world
trade. Even taking into account that the real size of services trade may
have been underestimated, since international trade statistics simply do not
cover all trade in services as defined by the GATS, there is tremendous
scope for growth.
Recent research by the World Economic Group (Groupe d'Economie Mondiale) at
Sciences Po, Paris shows that, even if there are no tariffs on services, the
costs of trading services internationally are at least twice as high as for
goods. One may quibble over the figures, as trade in services is subject to
wide range of regulatory measures that are not easily quantifiable. But even
a rough estimate, suggests that the removal of these costs will have a very
significant global impact. Indeed, the one consistent message from a broad
range of economic studies is that the gains from further opening of trade in
services far exceed those from opening trade in goods.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, we are experiencing a worrying
erosion of global economic confidence. One symptom of that erosion has been
hesitation of governments in going forward with multilateral trade
In the area of services alone, commitments under the GATS, which were mainly
taken some 15 years ago, no longer reflect market realities in many cases.
Markets and governments have moved ahead unilaterally but most of these
market openings are not bound in the WTO. And some recent policy responses
to the economic crisis have shown the importance of WTO commitments to
preventing back sliding.
To speed global economic recovery, we will need to shore up peoples' faith
in an open international trading system. We will need to demonstrate that
continued policy and regulatory reform in favour of services trade will be
vital to supporting economic recovery. This may be clear to all of you
attending this Summit, but you are the "converted". The challenge is to take
this message beyond these walls. Sectors such as transport, telecoms,
finance and distribution are after all the backbone of our international
trading system. Other sectors such as energy or environment hold a huge
potential, in particular in the fight against climate change.
The private sector has a key role to play. As the engines of growth and
jobs, your active support and engagement is needed to restore global
economic confidence. And one very obvious step that can be taken in this
direction is the timely conclusion of the Doha Development Round. After all,
you, as the private sector, will be the main beneficiaries of a new global
trade deal. The WTO needs you to get involved in these negotiations, and to
work even more closely with your governments on the specifics, so as to
drive the Round towards completion.
Services negotiations in the home stretch for the Doha Round in 2010
World leaders have set 2010 as the date fort he conclusion of the Round. It
is now the time to "walk the talk."
The Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration contains a roadmap for the completion
of the services negotiations. It also provides a clear set of objectives
across all modes of supply.
If we look back at the July 2008 Ministerial Meeting just over a year ago,
many would view it as a high-water point in the services negotiations. The
Services Ministerial Signalling Conference gave important indications of
possible commitments that surpassed most observers' expectations.
These signals now need to be elaborated upon and translated into concrete
It remains true, however, that the failure to achieve a final breakthrough
on agriculture and manufactures has slowed the pace of progress across the
board. Not as many headlines may have been devoted to services as compared
to agriculture and goods, and some commentators may have even gone as far as
to argue that services were being left behind. But make no mistake: services
are a vital market access pillar of this Round. There will be no Doha Round
without a substantial services package, even more so now that many emerging
economies are on the offensive on services.
Looking ahead - the next logical step in the market access component of the
services negotiations is the submission of final offers and draft final
schedules by those WTO members who participate in the services negotiations.
A decision on the timing for submitting such offers would be extremely
helpful in re-energizing the negotiations. However, it is understood that
such timing cannot be determined in isolation from the rest of the items and
in particular agriculture and manufactures.
We will also need to progress on the rule-making areas. Whether on domestic
regulation or on GATS Rules, including emergency safeguard measures,
subsidies and government procurement, we will soon need to look closely at
what can practically be achieved in this Round on these areas.
Another area of priority is the implementation of modalities for the special
treatment of the world's poorest countries. The progress achieved in this
area now needs to be expedited to establish a mechanism enabling Members to
grant special priority to services exports from these poorest countries.
My prognosis on the next steps, which applies to services as well other
areas of the Doha Round, has not changed. The task which faces us all is a
difficult but far from an impossible one.
I understand that many of you would be frustrated by the low pace of the
Doha Round and by the fact that the fate of the services negotiations is
linked to the other areas under negotiation. But it would disingenuous to
believe that services liberalisation would be easier outside the Doha Round.
Any agreement on services outside the Doha Round would in any event need to
embrace the major service traders, which today are many emerging economies,
to be worthwhile. Would it be easier to convince China or Brazil to further
open its financial and environment sectors outside the Doha Round? And on
the other hand, would it be easier to convince the EU and the US to further
open its temporary entry for professional service providers outside the Doha
This is why I believe that it is worth throwing your weight behind a Doha
services deal, a big part of which is already on the table. I understand
your desire to see an ambitious package emerge and I cannot but support that
since this is what makes eminent economic sense today. But if you share this
objective, your voice needs to be heard in the corridors of the WTO, in your
Congresses and in the discussions with your negotiators.
We have the tools and means to complete the Round in 2010, what we need now
is the leadership to do the deal. I began with Dickens, let me finish with
Moliere, "It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but
also for what we do not do".
Thank you for your attention.