Canada Joins Negotiations for Agreement on International Trade in Services

Canada has joined 20 other World Trade Organization (WTO) members, including the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Turkey and the United States, in negotiations toward a plurilateral agreement on international trade in services. Participants are expected to begin formal talks within the next two months. Examples of affected services sectors include information and communication technology services, transportation, financial services, professional services, environmental services and energy services. The Canadian government has stated that it hopes that a new international agreement on services will lead to new opportunities for Canadian companies and boost Canada's financial, engineering, energy, mining and environmental services sectors.

Canadian companies have until April 30, 2013 to provide the federal government with their views on service sectors which ought to be liberalized. Submissions should include the following:

  • The identification of services sectors, activities and markets in foreign countries for Canadian service providers and measures in those markets that restrict or otherwise adversely affect market access for Canadian service providers.
  • Any barriers or experiences regarding the different modes of supply of services as defined in the WTO:
    • Identification of barriers to the temporary entry and stay of business persons faced by Canadian service providers in WTO member markets, such as impediments to entering or working in a country on a temporary basis, including licensing, certification, work permits and other work authorization requirements.
    • Identification of investment barriers faced by Canadian service providers in foreign countries, including restrictions imposed on foreign ownership or entry to market, questions of transparency of regulation, performance requirements (e.g., local content requirements, use of local labour and services), and any other impediments or barriers.
    • Experiences regarding barriers to the cross-border trade in services faced by Canadian service providers in foreign markets, such as licensing or residency requirements.
  • Other barriers (e.g., availability and transparency of information) when selling or attempting to sell services to governments of foreign countries. Companies are encouraged to explain the impediments encountered when attempting to sell services to foreign governments including at sub-federal levels.

Should you have any questions about this agreement and how it will affect your business, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our International Trade & Investment Law Group.