US Abandons Logistics Services Talks

Original Publication Date: 
1 March, 2006

Geneva The United States and the European Union surprised negotiators yesterday by abruptly pulling out of a plurilateral group of countries pushing for further liberalization of logistics services, WTD has learned (WTD, 3/1/06).

Sponsors of the plurilateral request on logistics services led by Hong Kong said it was an unfortunate step by the two big players in the Doha Development Agenda services negotiations. The plurilateral request on logistics aims to bring costs down in the supply chain especially in developing countries. The requests relate specifically to the integration of processes and services related to planning, implementing and controlling the flow and storage of raw materials, in-process inventory, finished goods and related information from point-of-origin to consumption.

The United States pulled out of the group because the request applies to air transport and maritime services including the running of ports. That issue is currently under Congressional scrutiny in Washington (see related report this issue).

On another issue, New Zealand plans to transmit a plurilateral request on air transport services backed by the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Chile, Australia and Thailand to a group of countries that includes the United States, Canada, Japan and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Thailand with plans to develop Bangkok into a major hub for air transport services recently joined the group, sources said.

Also yesterday, Malaysia joined New Zealand and the United States in backing a plurilateral request on educational services to a group of developing countries, sources said.

The United States and the EU are currently busy finalizing a plurilateral request for liberalizing distribution services.