Trade, services and development: The regulatory and institutional dimension
The multi-year expert meeting is held in accordance with the decision of the Trade and Development Board at its fifty-sixth executive session on 3–4 December 2012.
It will build upon the previous multi-year expert meetings on regulatory and institutional dimensions in the development of the services sector, including infrastructure services sectors, as well as the first session of the Multi-year Expert Meeting on Trade, Services and Development (25–26 February 2013).
The objective of the expert meeting is to identify best-fit practices at the levels of policymaking, regulations, institutions and trade negotiations that link services, development and trade in a balanced manner, including a strengthening of national services regulation.
This objective will be pursued through an exchange of experiences and lessons learned so as to assist developing countries, particularly least developed countries and countries with economies in transition, to establish and strengthen regulatory and institutional frameworks and cooperative mechanisms with a view to enhancing their services supply and trade capacity, and the efficiency and competitiveness of the services sector.
Encompassing transport, telecommunications, energy and financial services, infrastructure services sectors constitute the backbone of the economy in all countries and contribute directly and indirectly to growth, income generation and higher welfare.
Infrastructure services sectors also assume an important social function as access to basic services (including electricity, gas and safe drinking water), financial inclusion and bridging of the digital divide are catalytic to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals as well as future post-2015 sustainable development goals.
Weak infrastructure services sectors often hamper the development of other service sectors, including tourism, distribution (wholesale, retail, and the like), information and communications technology services, and business and professional services, especially in least developed countries and small and vulnerable economies. For infrastructure services to contribute successfully to the economic and social development of a country, the legal and regulatory environment must be supportive. Accordingly, the regulatory and institutional framework of infrastructural services is becoming increasingly crucial to inclusive and sustainable development.
Building on the discussions undertaken and the recommendations made during the past multi-year expert meetings between 2009–2012, and the first session of the current multi-year expert meeting, this session will seek to examine services sectors’ regulatory and institutional frameworks and liberalization at the regional level, and how parties to regional trade agreements negotiate joint infrastructure services provisions and regulations (for example, energy, transport and financial services; services relating to information and communications technologies, as well as the interface between trade agreements and the domestic regulation of services, including infrastructure services and professional services).
Another important issue is how to achieve developmental regionalism combining market access with cooperation frameworks, inter alia, to build productive capacity.