Philippines joins WTO discussion on services domestic regulation

The Philippines has joined the joint initiative on services domestic regulation by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In a news statement, WTO said that the Philippines is the 66th member to participate in the said negotiation. The initiative now covers over 90 percent of the world services trade.

“Implementing the new disciplines will help promote regulatory practices that support trade in services and deepen the Philippines’ integration into global value chains,” the intergovernmental organization noted.

The Philippine delegation, WTO said, shared that the regulations being finalized will complement its Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 and regional trade pacts.

Previously, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the services sectors, which are major economic drivers, need further assistance to recover amid the pandemic.

“More than providing access to services markets, it is imperative that we also provide a transparent and predictable regulatory environment to help services firms engage in the international market,” he explained.

As such, he said, “It may be worth considering the work the WTO undertook to establish disciplines on services domestic regulations under the WTO Joint Statement Initiative discussions.”

“Although considered as a plurilateral arrangement, it is encouraging to see that a group of like-minded members are ready to commit to a shared goal of mitigating the unintended trade restrictive effects of regulatory measures in their economies,” Lopez said.

He explained that promoting good governance for the services sectors is key to developing more trade opportunities, especially for the micro, small and medium enterprises “who are burdened by uncertain and costly requirements and procedures.”

The WTO said that the services domestic regulation negotiations are “on track” for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference on December 2.

The guidelines are expected to be adopted for declaration by then.

“The objective of the new disciplines is to mitigate the unintended trade-restrictive effects of measures relating to licensing requirements and procedures, qualification requirements and procedures, and technical standards,” the WTO said. “By improving the predictability and transparency of regulatory frameworks for authorization procedures for service suppliers, participants aim to create a more conducive environment for services trade.”

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