Trade and Investment Rules for Energy
III. Aiding the Movement and Delivery of Energy Services
Issues and Challenges
Services are an increasingly important element of international business. The World Trade Report 2008 (WTO, Geneva) states that services trade rose by 18% in 2007 to U.S. $3.3 trillion, versus only a 5.5% growth in merchandise trade. While merchandise is much greater in absolute value, the services data reflect their growing importance to the world economy.
Growth in services trade underscores the value of generally accepted multilateral rules and disciplines in this important element of global economic growth. As part of this effort, the Doha Round gave priority attention to expansion of coverage of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) so as to generally improve market access for specified sectors. A number of regional and bilateral initiatives have also sought to expand market access for services. Such efforts are particularly relevant to the energy sector, where services are increasingly integrated into the sale, transportation, distribution, delivery, maintenance, repair and upgrading of energy products.
While some advances were made in the GATS negotiations, it remains uncertain at this time whether the Doha Round will be reactivated. Whatever transpires in the WTO, the Task Force believes that WEC can make a useful contribution to continuing these efforts by helping to formulate voluntary guidelines limiting, or even eliminating, unfair, arbitrary or discriminatory measures that inhibit energy services trade. This effort could help in the search for an international consensus on these issues in post-Doha Round discussions, whether in the WTO or elsewhere.
The Task Force also believes that services relating to international trading of emission (or carbon) credits require consideration. Carbon credit trading markets have developed regionally and multilaterally under the framework of the Kyoto Protocol, and are gaining momentum in the private sector ahead of international agreements and arrangements. As private carbon trading moves ahead, liberalizing the services component of carbon trading represents a new and important challenge for the international community. WEC can make a worthy contribution to these efforts.