The liberalization of trade in financial services

  • 11 November 2016

This ICC policy statement was prepared by the ICC Commission on Financial Services and Insurance, a specialized ICC working body that examines major policy issues and builds consensus among users, providers and intermediaries of financial and insurance services. This statement complements the general policy recommendations submitted to the WTO by the ICC Commission on Trade and Investment Policy.

The importance ICC attaches to the services sector reflects the economic interests of its members in more than 130 developing and industrialized countries around the globe and the importance they attach to improving market access worldwide. Services are coming to dominate the economic activities of countries at virtually every stage of development, making services trade liberalization a necessity for the integration of the world economy.ICC has continued its activist role since the Uruguay Round by providing business advice during

the subsequent negotiations on basic telecommunications, financial services, and professional services, each of which advanced the cause of trade liberalization. ICC recognizes the achievements that have been made in liberalizing trade in financial services through the 1997 WTO agreement in the aftermath of the Uruguay Round and, since then, by individual country initiatives. However, ICC is concerned about most countries’ reluctance so far to commit to further financial services liberalization in the current WTO/GATS negotiations. As a significant umber of barriers remain and many unilateral liberalization measures are not included in countries’ commitments under the 1997 WTO Financial Services Agreement, the ongoing WTO services negotiations should seek to incorporate substantive measure to liberalize trade in financial services into the results of the Doha Development Round. The legal binding of existing as well as ongoing unilateral liberalization measures in the WTO would greatly enhance legal certainty and predictability for trade in financial services.

ICC urges all WTO member countries to recognize that services trade liberalization, complemented by transparency, competition, and regulatory reform are critical to economic growth and stability. In terms of economic importance, services in general and financial services in particular are key sectors for growth and employment in both industrialized and developing countries.