GATS: Technical Cooperation in Telecommunications with Developed Countries (6.d)

In the GATS Annex on Telecommunications, paragraph 6(d) it is agreed that “members shall give special consideration to opportunities for the least-developed countries to encourage foreign suppliers of telecommunications services to assist in the transfer of technology, training and other activities that support the development of their telecommunications infrastructure and expansion of their telecommunications services trade.”


Available Smooth Transition Procedures:

Utilization by LDCs:

In a 2011 DESA survey, when asked if they received assistance from suppliers in developed countries in the transfer of technology, training and other activities that support the development of their telecommunications infrastructure and expansion of their telecommunications services trade, LDCs provided the following responses:

The LDCs that answered this question referred to the liberalisation of their telecommunication services sector and expansion of ICT infrastructure.  For example, Madagascar referred to the National Backbone Network, which has a length of 2,000 kilometres and the Lower Indian Ocean Network (LION), a submarine fibre cable system linking Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion Island.

When asked if LDCs have been able to (fully) benefit from technical cooperation in telecommunications with developed countries, LDCs offered the following responses:

  • One of the major impediments to the transfer of technology in the field of ICT is that national policy and legislative reforms have failed to accommodate new technological developments in information and communications technologies (Lesotho)
  • One respondent remarked that technology transfer, both software and hardware, was guided by the rate of profit, not by the actual needs of the country. One example was the technology for 3G mobiles: it would get priority over the technology related to rural telecommunications (Nepal).
  • It was not clear whether the developments in the telecommunications sector are a result of paragraph 6(b) or whether these were purely commercial or investment decisions (Bangladesh, Nepal, Uganda).
  • One country considered it could have benefitted from the assistance of developed countries in the telecommunications sector, had political considerations not influenced the suspension of international cooperation for 15 years (Togo).
  • In some cases, developing countries were mentioned as a main source of technical cooperation in telecommunication services, instead of developed countries (Uganda, Chad, Madagascar, Mali).

Resources:

  1. GATS Annex on Telecommunications