The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR TRADE

Media Release

Tuesday, 1 April 2003 - MVT28/2003

Australia's Initial Offer in Services Trade Negotiation

Australia has submitted its initial offer under the World Trade Organisation services trade negotiations in Geneva, Trade Minister Mark Vaile announced today.

The offer has also been publicly released.

"Australia's offer aims to support our exporters and to encourage our trading partners to be forthcoming on services trade liberalisation. Australian services exporters will receive significant benefits in world markets if services negotiations in the WTO succeed," Mr Vaile said.

"The offer covers elements of financial services, telecommunications, computer services, legal services, mining services, environmental services, landscape architectural services, maritime transport services, and air transport (ground handling) services.

"These are all priority sectors for Australian exporters during these negotiations.

"The initial offer is non-binding and can be amended or withdrawn at any time during the negotiations. The Government's decision to publicly release the offer, recognises strong public interest in these negotiations."

The offer has been lodged in line with the 31 March negotiating deadline for submission of initial offers. Services trade negotiations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) are part of the Doha round of trade negotiations. The offer is one step in a process set to conclude January 2005.

"The Government is committed to upholding the right of WTO members to regulate and to fund public services, and will not support any new rules or make any offers which cast doubt on that outcome," Mr Vaile said.

"Australia will not be making any offers in the areas of public health, public education or the ownership of water. The Government will ensure that the outcomes of negotiations will not impair Australia's ability to deliver fundamental policy objectives in relation to social and cultural goals and to allow for screening of foreign investment proposals.

"As the negotiations progress, we will continue to consult with stakeholders and to provide all information that we can, consistent with WTO and commercial confidentiality and without undermining the effectiveness of Australia's negotiating effort.

"The US and Canada have also released their GATS offers overnight and we expect others to follow."

The proposed changes to Australia's Schedule of Specific Commitments under GATS (the 'offer') and explanatory notes can be found on the DFAT website.

Contact: Matthew Doman (Ministerial) 02 6277 7420 - Nicole Guihot (Department) 02 6261 1555

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