Wto Basic Telecommunications Agreement

The WTO is responsible for the management of all agreements concluded under the Uruguay Round. It is the forum for all future trade negotiations and manages the new dispute settlement mechanism. In its structure, the WTO consists of a ministerial conference to meet every two years, a General Council that meets more often, a dispute resolution body and three subsidiary councils – on services, goods and intellectual property rights. WTO negotiations on access to the basic telecommunications market resulted in 34 offers (for 48 governments) that were originally scheduled to end in April 1996. In mid-November 1996, the first tangible signs of further progress in the negotiations were achieved when the European Union, the United States and the Slovak Republic were the first to formally present the changes to the package`s offers in April. The momentum began to develop in January 1997, when seven other governments submitted revised proposals and six governments added new offers to the overall results. In February, 17 new bids were submitted and 22 other governments submitted their April 1996 bids for the first time. The total number of new offers submitted has thus increased to 23 and the total number of revisions (for 46 governments) of the 34 offers submitted in April to 32. Telecommunications, like other services, are involved in the information negotiations that began in January 2000. In the current Doha round of negotiations, the additional opening of markets and the commitment of recent reforms (i.e. the obligation not to increase the tariff rate beyond an agreed level) in the field of telecommunications are the objective of many negotiating requests made by WTO members to their trading partners. In July 2008, 39 governments submitted bids to improve their existing commitments or to engage for the first time in the telecommunications sector.

The annex has seven sections, but its main obligations are those relating to the access and use of “telecommunications networks and public services” (mainly basic public telecommunications). It requires each member to ensure that access to basic telecommunications and public services is granted to all providers who wish to benefit from planned obligations on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis.

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