Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Canada releases revised offer in WTO services negotiations that excludes any commitment to broaden access to cultural markets

International Trade Canada, Ottawa, June 20, 2005 – 2005/06/20

In the context of the current market access phase of negotiations of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), WTO members agreed to submit revised market access offers by May 31, 2005. In accordance with this declaration, Canada has submitted its revised offer, which builds upon the initial offer that Canada tabled on March 31, 2003, as well as Canada’s initial requests in WTO services negotiations, released in July 2002, and Canada’s initial position in the GATS, made public in March 2001.

Like Canada’s initial GATS offer, the revised offer outlines what further improvements Canada is prepared to offer other countries in exchange for greater access to their service markets, and the document outlines how Canada is prepared to open access to its markets in exchange for greater access to foreign markets for services. As with Canada’s initial offer, Canada’s revised offer takes into account the market access requests made by Canada’s WTO trading partners, and devotes particular attention to the market access requests made by developing and least-developed countries.

Like all offers in the negotiations, Canada’s revised offer is conditional on the overall level of liberalization that is achieved at the end of the negotiations. This means that Canada retains the right to add, remove or modify any element of its offer until a final agreement that meets Canada’s objectives is reached. GATS also allows countries to determine which services will be delivered through public services. In this regard, in its revised GATS offer, Canada proposes improved market access commitments in the following areas: temporary movement of business people; professional services; transport services; financial services; exemptions to the Most Favored Nation (MFN) principle; commercial presence; tourism services; and courier services.

However, Canada’s new offer reaffirms that health, public education, social services, and culture will not be included in its agreement: “Our offer clearly indicates that Canada’s public services are not up for negotiation,” said minister Peterson. Indeed, Canada’s revised offer does not include any commitments for health, public education and social services, or culture. [05-22]