Brussels, 31 March 2014
EU backs China joining talks on Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)
On the occasion of the visit of the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, to Brussels, the EU announced its strong support for China joining ongoing negotiations to liberalise trade in services. The EU's position is reflected in the EU-China joint statement issued at the Summit.
'I am very pleased with the successful outcome of the visit of President Xi Jinping,' said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht after meeting the Chinese President. 'China has reassured the EU that it shares the objectives of the TiSA negotiations and that it would respect the results of the negotiation achieved by other participants if it joins. As a result, the EU will now strongly support China's swift participation in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiation.'
TiSA is an initiative open to all WTO members interested in further liberalising trade in services. Launched in March 2013, the talks currently involve 23 WTO members, although the negotiations themselves are not being held within the WTO itself due to a lack of unanimous support among the organisation's membership.
Last year, China expressed its interest in joining TiSA and in September submitted its application to participate in the talks. The EU supports China's bid because the EU's strategic objective is to build an agreement with broad participation. The debate over China's participation has been difficult, however, due to concerns expressed by some TiSA participants.
Ahead of and during President Xi Jinping's visit, Beijing undertook efforts at senior political level to meet the objectives and the level of ambition of the TiSA negotiations, as well as to accept, if and when it finally joins, what will have been agreed on by the current participants. These reassurances paved the way for the EU's public support for China joining the talks.
The EU's support for China will carry weight in getting a consensus between the participants of TiSA talks required for China's participation.
The TiSA negotiations cover all services sectors, including information and communication technology (ICT) services, logistics and transport, financial services and services for businesses. The EU – like the other participants – wants the negotiations to go beyond simply further opening up markets for services. The aim is also to develop new rules on trade in services, such as those applying to government procurement of services, licensing procedures or access to communication networks.
The current participants in the negotiations are Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, the EU, Hong Kong China, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States.
For the EU, trade in services is of strategic importance, the sector accounting for some three-quarters of EU gross domestic product (GDP) and of EU jobs. Within the EU, cross-border trade in services accounts for around 30% of EU trade, and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Services (to be covered by the scope of the future agreement) represents around 70% of the EU's FDI flows and around 60% of our FDI stock.
For more information
STATEMENT/14/89: Joint Statement: Deepening the EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit
6th round TiSA talks end in Geneva, 24 February 2014
EU to chair plurilateral talks to open services markets, 17 February 2014
IP/13/118: European Commission proposes to open plurilateral trade negotiations on services, 15 February 2013
MEMO/13/107: Memo - Negotiations for a Plurilateral Agreement on Trade in services