The main LDC-specific market access preferences in services are those granted under the decision adopted by WTO Members in 2011 known as the “services waiver” (Decision on preferential treatment to services and services suppliers of LDCs – WT/L/847 – adopted by the 8th Ministerial Conference of the WTO). The decision allows WTO Members to grant to LDC services or service suppliers preferential treatment that would otherwise be inconsistent with Article II (most favoured nation treatment) of the GATS.
In 2013, the Bali Ministerial Decision established steps to promote the operationalization of the decision. In 2014, the LDC group submitted the “LDC collective request”, identifying the sectors and modes of supply of particular interest to them (S/C/W/356). In 2015, the waiver period was extended to 2030, as part of the “Nairobi Package” (WT/MIN(15)/48). The WTO has received notifications from 24 Members, including the EU, indicating sectors and modes of supply where they were providing or intended to provide preferential treatment to LDC services and service suppliers.
During the second or third quarter of 2019, the Council for Trade in Services (CTS) will hold a meeting to review how WTO members are making use of the Services Waiver.
References and resources:
WTO, “Trade in services and the LDCs” (includes links to the services waiver and related decisions).
“WTO members secure ‘historic’ Nairobi Package for Africa and the World”. Press release for 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, Nairobi, 19 December 2015.
“Members agree to hold meeting on the use of the LDC Services Waiver”. Press release. WTO. 7 December 2018.
List of notifications (WTO)
Last updated on January 24, 2019