On 18 January, the International Trade Committee of the EP adopted recommendations for the EC concerning the Trade in Services Agreement negotiations. The EC is negotiating on EU´s behalf with 22 WTO partners worldwide (including the US, Canada, Chile, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Turkey or Pakistan) a wide liberalizing agreement for trade in services. Together, the countries involved in negotiations cover 70% of global trade in services, with the EU being the largest services exporter globally – covering 25% of the total. The EP will only have a formal say on TiSA at the end, but the recommendations are a strong indication for the EC, what may and what may not win EP´s approval.
The MEPs ask that the highest possible degree of reciprocity be assured in TiSA. Today, the barriers on service providers if calculated as a standard tariff, would only amount to a 6% tariff for the EU. However, they would be 15% for Canada, 25% for South Korea or 44% for Turkey. For China, not part of these negotiations at the moment, the number would be 68%. In particular, sectors of transportation, telecoms, financial services and professional services should be covered by TiSA. TiSA should also give high-skilled EU citizens more possibilities to work outside EU. Artificial restrictive practices of third countries, such as forced data localization or foreign equity caps, should be abolished by TiSA. For EU consumers, the MEPs ask that TiSA provides safeguards concerning roaming charges, credit card transactions charges and geoblocking of online content.
On the other hand, the MEPs specifically stated that a TiSA that should pass the EP, must absolutely not cover sensitive EU sectors, such as healthcare, education, social services and social security systems, as well as audio-visual services. Furthermore, TiSA must absolutely guarantee EU citizens´ data security, although free data flow in TiSA countries should not be viewed as unwanted.
The last specific legal guarantee that TiSA must include concerns the EU, national and local authorities´ right to regulate in public interest, including in areas of public health, environmental protection and consumer safety.
The MEPs called onto TiSA negotiating parties to include China in the talks. More transparency from the EC´s side would also be welcome, according to the committee members. For more, click here.
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