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The technological neutrality of the Agreement would also mean that the electronic supply of services is permitted by specific commitments unless the schedule states otherwise. g. ) or specific commitments (market access, national treatment or additional commitments), are applicable to the supply of services through electronic means. The same report identified issues requiring further examination. The focus is on clarifying the application of current GATS provisions in the light of developments on the Internet and in e-trade in services.

Therefore offers do require considerable technical preparation. In the Uruguay Round, in the absence of pre-existing schedules of commitments, participants started the negotiating process with the submission of offers. These were followed by requests, amended offers and so forth. In the new round, offers will be submitted against the backdrop of existing schedules. The technical implications are currently being discussed in the Council for Trade in Services and the Committee on Specific Commitments.

Consequently a new services round was launched in January 2000. It aims to achieve a progressively higher level of liberalization of services trade while “promoting the interests of all participants on a mutually advantageous basis and . . securing an overall balance of rights and obligations” (Article XIX:1). Although the Seattle Ministerial Conference in late November 1999 failed to agree on launching a larger trade round, the mandate to negotiate on services was never put in doubt. In contrast to the preparatory stages of the Uruguay Round, Members no longer focused on whether, but rather on how, to promote services liberalization within the multilateral system.

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