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The European Services Forum (ESF) is a network of representatives from the European services sector committed to actively promoting the liberalisation of international trade and investment in services. ESF’s main field of activity are the WTO GATS negotiations, the Plurilateral E-Commerce negotiations and the EU’s bilateral trade negotiations on services and investments

ESF welcomes the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment

“This is a very important agreement for European service businesses who today face many market access barriers on the Chinese market”: said Pascal Kerneis, Managing of the European Services Forum (see Press Statement here). For service companies, the establishment of a commercial presence abroad is the preferred way to operate internationally. ESF welcomes the commitment by China to eliminate restrictions like equity caps or joint venture requirements and to open up progressively many services sectors like financial services, telecommunications and IT and computer related services.

European service industries welcome the conclusion of the Future EU-UK Trading Arrangements

On 24 December, few minutes after the announcement of the conclusion of the negotiations of the Future EU-UK Trading Arrangements by the two Parties, Noel Clehane, Chairman of the European Services Forum said: “In this time of uncertainty due to the Covid pandemic, it is a profound relief that a deal has been struck, as a failure could only have added to the difficulties that our economies are already suffering” . The Agreement will bring the much-needed legal certainty to services enterprises. Businesses will need prompt and clear information on the regime for transport services, mobility of professionals, cross-border data flows, financial services equivalence, and many other matters. See full Press-Release here.

ESF call to consider role of crucial international services trade related to “trade in healthcare products “ in time of pandemic crisis

On 23 November 2020, ESF Chairman Noel Clehane send a letter to the EU institutions, the EU Member States and the WTO countries to consider role of crucial international services trade related to “trade in healthcare products “ in time of pandemic crisis

The European Services Forum drew the attention on the need to consider the role of crucial international services trade in time of pandemic crisis. Indeed, despite the evidence that without services (health, transport, logistics, IT, etc.), no trade of essential medical equipment or pharmaceutical products like vaccines and medicines can take place during a pandemic crisis, it seems that the EU and many other countries, when planning for future crisis, only consider trade in healthcare products as essential. Unfortunately, nothing is said about the need for keeping essential services to continue to function. See the letter here.

ESF Director at Geneva Trade Week – S9 –

On 29 September 2020, ESF Managing Director contributed to the debate on the 9th Session of the Geneva Trade Week on international governance for digitally-enabled services, highlighting the main issues discussed in the JSI negotiations for WTO rules on e-commerce.

ESF Responses to Commission’s White Paper on Foreign Subsidies

On 23 September 2020, ESF submitted via the online consultation platform, the contribution of the European Services Forum on the European Commission white paper dealing with the distortive effects caused by foreign subsidies in the single market. You can find the final version here.

CETA 3 year anniversary: Success and challenges for CETA in a time of COVID

On 21 September 2020, the Canada EU Trade and Investment Association (CEUTIA) and the European Services Forum (ESF), together with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and CERT, hosted a high level webinar to mark the 3rd year anniversary of the provisional application of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

The Honourable Mary Ng, Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, delivered the keynote address.  Other speakers included Rupert Schlegelmilch (Director, DG Trade, European Commission), Ailish Campbell (Chief Trade Commissioner of Canada), Esther Nieto-Hernandez (Deputy Head of Unit, DG Trade) and Stephane Lambert (Counsellor & Head of Trade, Mission of Canada to the EU). The event was moderated by ESF Chairman Noel Clehane with CEUTIA President Mark Camilleri delivering the closing remarks.

A press release from Minister Ng’s statement can be accessed here. European Commission statement issued on that day can be found here.

ESF Position on EU Proposal to amend EU Enforcement Regulation

On 18 September 2020, ESF Chairman, Noel Clehane sent a letter with the ESF Position to European institutions on the EU proposal to amend the EU enforcement regulation.

We expressed some concerns in relation to the European Parliament proposals on adjustments to the EU Enforcement Regulations that, in our view, go well beyond those of the Commission. We highlighted our concerns to see the proposal to expand the scope of EU unilateral enforcement powers to include services and intellectual property in the list of possible trade measures the EU can use against a trading partner. We hence requested the EU institutions, before adopting such an extension, that the Commission and all EU institutions provide some clarifications on what kind of measures they foresee for implementation in the services and IPR, and what impact these could lead to.  Should the decision in the trilogue to extend the regulation to services and IPR be taken, ESF urged the EU to accompany such decision by setting up a proper control mechanism among the EU institutions, with prior consultations of interested stakeholders before triggering any retaliation.

ESF Contribution to Commission’s Trade Policy Review

On 14 September 2020, ESF Chairman, Noel Clehane sent a letter to EVP & Commissioner Designate for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis on the contribution of the European Services Forum (ESF) to the European Commission’s Consultation on the Trade Policy Review.

“The European Union success has been built upon open trade with the rest of the world while ensuring high level of consumer protection, and high-level respect of labour rights and environment protection. These values have made Europe stronger and have positioned the European Union as a solid and trustful partner that in return provided the Union with tremendous access to other countries’ markets, which generated exports, imports and investment that created growth and millions of jobs. The new trade policy must pursue the exercise of supporting rules-based trade with trading partner outside the EU.  This will contribute to increase the resilience of the Union, by offering new market access” says ESF Chairman.

You can find the letter here.

ESF Position Paper on the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment

On 29 June 2020, ESF sent its new Position Paper on the EU-China CAI to the European Institutions. The main objective of the European services industry is that the Agreement would improve market access conditions for European companies. You can find the Position Paper here.

The European Services Forum calls the EU negotiators to use the negative list approach for the negotiations; to negotiate similar access to European services providers than the one China allowed other trading partners; to negotiate the incorporation of new openings by China revised national “negative lists”; to ensure that the Agreement will cover all market access issues which are linked to investment, i.e. also the movement of people linked to the investments. In addition of new market access for services businesses, ESF emphasise that adoption of strong disciplines will be crucial.  It calls the EU to negotiate Transparency and domestic regulation requirements; to ensure that European services enterprises compete on an equal footing when operating in China (Level Playing Field), and set rules for State owned enterprises (SOEs). Furthermore, ESF calls upon the negotiators to negotiate an Investment Protection Agreement that will provide a strong protection to EU investors. The agreement should have an efficient state-to-state dispute resolution mechanism and an efficient investor-to-state-dispute settlement. ESF also calls the EU to split up the deal with China into two legal treaties, one being the Comprehensive Investment Agreement that will tackle market access and national treatment issues, and a second one being the Investment Protection Agreement (IPA).

ESF letter Cross-border data flows in EU Trade Agreements

On 4th June, ESF Chairman Noel Clehane sent a letter to the European Commission on the issue of Cross border data flows in EU trade agreements, in reaction to the EU recent strategies on European Data and on Shaping Europe’s Digital Future, and in the context of ongoing plurilateral and bilateral negotiations of digital trade issues.

The European services industries drew the attention on the fact that the EU’s transfer mechanisms deal only with data going out of the EU, and they urge the European institutions to address, in trade agreements with its partners, the need that data can also move out of third countries to the EU or elsewhere. ESF also called the EU to act strongly against a protectionist trend by many countries which use personal data protection as disguised trade barriers and to ensure provisions in EU trade agreements that will ban all unjustified data localisation measures. The EU should also strengthen the provisions for free flow of non-personal data in the digital trade chapter of FTAs, and promote regulatory cooperation between EU and third countries data protection authorities.

ESF Position Paper on WTO JSI on Investment Facilitation for Development

On 13 May 2020, ESF sent its Position Paper on the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on Investment Facilitation for Development. It is an important initiative to provide more transparency on the national laws and regulation of countries that want to facilitate access to foreign direct investment as a tool to foster economic development. Indeed, the lack of transparency and due diligence in the regulatory environment for foreign investors are systematically raised as major trade barriers when European service investors try to open or expand investment in third countries.

The European Services Forum calls upon all WTO Members to engage in the coming months in the negotiating phase towards the adoption of WTO Investment Facilitation Framework, if possible by the Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference whenever it will take place, or at least to register good progress at that Conference and encourage the negotiators to keep the momentum and pursue their talks towards the conclusion of an ambitious framework as early as possible.

ESF letter to EU Trade Commissioner Hogan on COVID19 & EU Trade Policy

On 29th April 2020, ESF Chairman, Noel Clehane, sent to EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan a letter highlighting the importance of the essential international services in the fight against the COVID19 outbreak, expressing some concerns about the increase of measures imposing export and import restrictions or other trade barriers that are already disrupting stretched global supply chains, both within the EU and with third countries, and – in the perspective of the announced review of the trade policy part of the Commission 2020 Work Programme – emphasising the priorities of the European services industry in the EU trade policy for the years to come. see letter here.

New GSC Position Statements on Data Flows and E-Commerce Moratorium

The Global Services Coalition, of which ESF is a member, has issued two new position statements in response to the ongoing digital trade negotiations. The first statement, a response to critics of the WTO E-commerce Moratorium on  customs duties on electronic transmissions, gives a synopsis of the current debate and advocates that the moratorium be made permanent at the next WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) (see here).

The second statement, on cross-border data flows, details the benefits of free data and the major risks to global prosperity of data localisation policies. As the statement says: “Especially now, with the world battling a global pandemic, it is critical to be able to move data quickly across borders. In fact, digital data is in constant movement round the world, powering many of the services that global users have come to take for granted.” The second statement on cross-border data flows can found by following this link.

GSC Statement on Essential Services in Combating COVID-19

As the world continues to grapple with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the members of the Global Services Coalition call on governments to take a range of critical measures to maintain resilience in the supply of essential services during this time of crisis. As governments curtail commercial activity and social interaction to fight the global pandemic, it is critical for them to allow for continuation of these and other essential services, while of course ensuring the health and safety of the personnel involved. See Statement here.

European Service Industry Call for ambitious trade in services commitments in the EU-UK future trade agreement

On 20 January 2020, ESF Chairman Noel Clehane wrote to both the EU (here) and the UK (here) authorities to call upon them to ensure that any agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the UK will include in depth commitments on trade in services. It will be extremely important to cover trade in services between the two parties, as mutual trade in services is a significant source of jobs, growth and competitiveness in the EU27 and in the UK.

Services are the basis of both economies representing 74% of EU GDP and 73% of the EU labour force and 80.4% of UK GDP and 83.5% of the UK labour force. Services trade related issues are often not seen as decisive in trade negotiations, but in this case and without any doubt, they should be.  Services constitute a sizable share of the EU27’s overall trade to the UK and vice versa. The EU27 exported €98.6 billion services to the UK in 2018 and the UK exported €131.9 billion services to the EU27, which accounts for 41.4% of UK global exports of services.  Trade in services represents 40.5% of UK total exports to the EU (goods + services). Any agreement between the EU and the UK must therefore include ambitious commitments in trade in services. An agreement that did not tackle services issues will potentially be hugely detrimental to both economies. See related Press Statement here.

ESF call to INTA to ratify the EU-Vietnam FTA

ESF called upon the members of the International Trade Committee (INTA) to ratify the EU- Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. Trade in services between the European Union and Vietnam has not reached its potential since our businesses are still encountering many obstacles to trade and to establish in Vietnam.  We hope that the FTA will trigger new business opportunities. In 2017, the European Union exported €2.3 billion of services to Vietnam (+58% since 2010) and imported €1.8 billion from Vietnam (+41% since 2010). This means that trade in services represent only 17.7% of EU exports to Vietnam, which is much lower than the EU average to the whole world (+32.6%). The FTA includes robust, comprehensive and binding provisions in Trade and Sustainable Development, which will help address some of the challenges Vietnam is still facing concerning labour rights and environmental protection. This will also help to create a better level playing field for European companies operating in Vietnam, who for both legal and ethical reasons already comply with these rules. See the letter here.

ESF also joined two business coalitions for a similar call, hence joining forces towards bringing more information on the benefit of the EU-Vietnam FTA.  See here and here.

ESF 20th Anniversary Event10th December 2019 –

At the occasion of its 20th Anniversary, ESF organised an event entitled “Importance of trade in services in a disruptive world trade environment” on 10th December from 16:30 to 19:00. You can find the programme here. More than 100 participants attended the event. After the presentation of the ESF Brochure on the importance of trade in services in the EU economy and a presentation by Mr. Lucian Cernat, Chief Economist, DG Trade, European Commission on “Trade in services: Unlocking the policy potential of  recent analytical developments”, Iana Dreyer from our Media Partner Borderlex moderated the High-Level Panel with representatives from the three EU institutions providing their views on trade in services in the next 5 years:

  • Sabine Weyand, Director General – Directorate General for Trade, European Commission
  • Bernd Lange, Chairman of International Trade Committee, Member of the European Parliament (S&D – DE)
  • Pasi-Heikki Vaaranmaa, Director for External Economic Relations of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and Chairmanship of the TPC under the Finnish Presidency of the European Council.

ESF Letter to New Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan on Importance of services in his new mandate

On 19th November, ESF Chairman Noel Clehane wrote a letter to Trade Commissioner-Designate Phil Hogan to congratulate him for his new position and to highlight the importance of trade in services in the EU TRade Policy. ESF notably drew his attention on the fact that the volume of trade in services in the EU is 15 times higher than the one of agri-food trade. ESF Chairman called on the Commission to give greater political and technical attention to trade in services in all its activities, negotiations, publications and communications. See letter here.

ESF Chairman & Leadership met DG Trade Director General Sabine Weyand

On 15 November 2019, ESF Chairman Noel Clehane, ESF Policy Committee Chairman Tilmann Kupfer and ESF Managing Director Pascal Kerneis met with DG Trade Director General Sabine Weyand to present the new ESF Brochure on the “Importance of Trade in Services for the EU Economy : Facts & Figures” and discuss about the need to provide more visibility in the statistics and in the DG Trade Communications at large on what represent more than a third of the EU Exports in BOP and nearly 60% of total EU Exports in value added.

ESF and the Global Services Coalition call for continuation of the WTO E-Commerce Moratorium

At the occasion of the Global Services Summit that took place in Washington on 7th November 2019, the Global Services Coalition adopted a joint statement on WTO E-Commerce Negotiations and WTO E-Commerce Moratorium (see here). “GSC
members believe that the moratorium should not expire at the end of this year and be made

“Benefits and loopholes of EU-Canada CETA: Two years on”

On 20th September 2019, The European Services Forum) organised,  together with BusinessEurope, CERT (Canada-Europe Round Table) and CEUTIA (Canada-EU Trade & Investment Association), a seminar on the second anniversary of the provisional implementation of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, with a keynote speech of EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. ESF Chairman Noel Clehane moderated the Session with the Commissioner. You can find her speech here (also on DG Trade website). The following panel featured experts from the European Commission, the Finnish Presidency of the EU, the Canadian Mission to the EU, and business representatives from the EU and Canada. The programme of the event is here. DG Trade one-pager containing links on Fact Sheets, Brochures and info on the Market Access Data base can be found here. The presentation of ESF Director Pascal Kerneis can be found here.

ESF New Brochure on “Importance of Trade in Services: Facts & Figures”

At the occasion of its 20th Anniversary, the European Services Forum publishes its new Brochure on “The Importance of Trade in Services in the EU Economy: Facts & Figures“.

Did you know that:the EU is the world biggest exporter of trade in services,

  1. Trade in services represents 32.6% of the total EU exports in BOP, and 58.9% of total EU exports in Value added terms
  2. Trade in services represents 24.4% of EU GDP
  3. 22 million jobs are in services sectors thanks to EU exports
  4. 60% of all Outward EU FDI comes from services sectors and 90% of all Inward EU FDI goes to services sectors
  5. 34.5% of the value of exports by the manufacturing sectors are services around the products

ESF Chairman call DG Trade for Raising the profile of trade in services in EU Trade and Investment Policy

In a letter addressed to new Director General of DG Trade of the European Commission, Mrs. Sabine Weyand, ESF Chairman Noel Clehane drew the attention on the Importance of trade in services in the EU economy – notably demonstrated in the new ESF Brochure on facts and figures of trade in services – and called the European Commission to give greater political and technical attention to trade in services in all its activities, negotiations, publications and communications.

ESF Director at a seminar in Taiwan

ESF Director was invited by the Bureau of Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Taiwan  to give a presentation on “The importance of Trade in Services in the EU and Taiwan Trade” during a seminar in Taipei on 20th June 2019.

ESF call (with other business associations) for signature of EU-Vietnam FTA

ESF, together with other European trade and business associations, invited – by a letter dated  14th June 2019 – the Commission and the Romanian Presidency to engage with all Members of the Council in the coming weeks, in an effort to obtain the Council’s adoption of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement by the end of June. ESF takes note that the Coreper endorsed the agreement on 19th June and welcomes the final approval by the Council on 25 June. ESF will monitor for a swift ratification by the European Parliament in the coming months.

ESF joins global business coalition for Recommendations on Trade and Digital Economy to G20 Ministerial Meeting on Trade in Japan – 3 June 2019

Over the past decade, the way that companies do business around the world has changed dramatically. Businesses across all sectors now rely on digital technologies to produce, move, market, and sell products and services. The flow of data across borders underpin all of these activities, and have created economic opportunities for billions of people. To facilitate the use of the digital technologies necessary to sustain world economic growth and increase social welfare, countries should commit to open markets by supporting global, consensus-based, industry-led standards. They should aim to reduce discriminatory and other regulatory barriers and cooperate to develop high-standard trade rules that promote inclusive innovation, growth, and development. See the Recommendations here.

European Service Industry welcomes EU mandate for ambitious WTO E-Commerce negotiations

ESF released today a Press Statement stating that the European service industry welcomes the adoption by the Foreign Affairs Council on Trade Issues this Monday, 27th May 2019 of the supplementary mandate for negotiating directives to the European Commission for the WTO E-Commerce agreement that have started in Geneva. Press-Release here.

ESF Recommendations for incoming European Parliament and Commission related to the future EU Trade Policy

The European Services Forum adopted today, 24th May 2019, its Recommendations for the incoming European Parliament and Commission related to the future EU Trade Policy. They canESF Recommendations for incoming European Parliament and Commission related to the future EU Trade Policy be summarised as follow:

  • To understand the importance of services for European competitiveness (in terms of trade volume, of value added and of job-creation) and ensure that future trade policy reflects it;
  • To ensure that the EU remains a leader of the multilateral trading system and supports:
    1. Ambitious WTO Reform (Dispute Settlement and the WTO Appellate Body; Notifications and Transparency)
    2. Ambitious WTO negotiations towards agreements on E-commerce, on Domestic regulatory disciplines in services and on Investment facilitation
  • To support the resumption of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations when the time is ripe;
  • To pursue an active Bilateral FTA policy, keeping in mind the services sectors priorities;
  • To ensure a better visibility and enforcement strategy for the services provisions in EU FTAs;
  • To ensure that EU Trade policy is consistent and coherent with other EU policies, notably through:
    • ambitious Sustainable Development and Regulatory Cooperation Chapters in FTAs;
    • ambitious disciplines and market access in Public Procurement Chapters in FTAs.

ESF at the EU-Japan Forum – Milan, 16-17 May 2019

ESF Director Pascal Kerneis participated to the 2nd EU-Japan EPA Forum held on May 16-17, 2019 in Milan where more than 280 Japan focused senior delegates and 70 speakers from across Europe and Japan gathered.  You can find the programme here, the press photos and a video highlight of the event covering several of our distinguished speakers, including Kathy Matsui, Vice Chair, Chief Japan Equity Strategist, Goldman Sachs, and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström here (, and the presentations of the speakers here (

ESF Director at the launching seminar on China of Europe-Asia Interlink Initiative

ESF Director contributed to the launching seminar on China of Europe-Asia Interlink Initiative, that took place on 7th May 2019 in Brussels, with notably the keynote presentation of Ms. Helena König, Deputy Director General, DG Trade, European Commission.  You can find his presentation here, with some statistical data on EU-China Trade and Investment.

ESF Director at the 8th Global Economic Summit in Mumbai – India

ESF Director Dr. Pascal Kerneis was invited to speak at the 8th Global Economic Summit (GES)

on SERVICES IN AN EVOLVING GLOBAL ECONOMY: Creating Sustainable Growth by Integrating Agro and Manufacturing that took place on March 6-8, 2019 in Mumbai, India. The summit gathered more than 300 participants from 30 countries. You can find more information on the dedicated website.

In addition to the inaugural session, he contributed to the Panel Discussion on Importance of Services in Supporting Agriculture and Manufacturing Sectors on 7th March 2019. You can find his presentation here.

Global Services Coalition Comments on China Draft Foreign Investment Law

On 23 February 2019, the GSC welcomed the initiative by the National People’s Congress proposing significant steps to reform China’s foreign investment regime and offered its comments. GSC warmly welcomed the fact that the new draft law, as we understand it, expands investment opportunities to the whole territory of Mainland China, beyond the earlier pilot FTZs. The draft law is a positive step, such as reduction of sectors in the negative list, national treatment, elimination of joint-venture requirements for some sectors, and prohibition of technology transfer. Nonetheless, it is unclear at this stage how effective some of these provisions would be in light of the broad exceptions based on national security or the public interest. GSC therefore asked for more clarity in the implementation acts.

GSC Letter to WTO Ministers in Davos on E-Commerce negotiations

On 18 January 2019, the Global Services Coalition sent a Letter to WTO Ministers to Re-Double Efforts to Make Progress Toward a High Standard E-Commerce Framework. GSC urges WTO Ministers to make the utmost effort to launch negotiations building on the WTO e-commerce discussions to date to make progress towards a high standard e-commerce framework by the time of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in Astana. See the letter here.

ESF Position Paper on WTO Disciplines on Services Domestic Regulation

The European Services Forum (ESF) represents the interests of European services sectors that are, in a way or another, subject to specific regulation adopted by domestic regulatory authorities. The European Services Forum welcomed the Joint Ministerial Statement on Services Domestic Regulation, adopted by trade Ministers from 60 countries at the WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017 in Buenos Aires. As the proponents of that initiative who acknowledge the good progress made in reviving the negotiations in the WTO Working Party on Domestic Regulation (WPDR) in Geneva, ESF could only regret that it failed to deliver concrete results in Buenos Aires.

ESF, therefore, calls for the continuation at steady speed of the on-going negotiations that were mandated by Article VI.4 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services aiming at setting up disciplines in the countries’ domestic regulation on the various services sectors. ESF urges the negotiators to carry on the smooth atmosphere that prevailed in Geneva in this year 2018 so as to reach an agreement by the Twelve WTO Ministerial in June 2020 in Astana (Kazakhstan). See Position Paper here.

European Service Industries call Trade Ministers in Davos to announce the launching of negotiations for an International Agreement on E-Commerce

ESF calls upon all WTO countries’ Trade Ministers for the adoption of a negotiating mandate in early 2019 to launch plurilateral negotiations – under the auspices of the WTO that would be accessible for all WTO members – that would look at setting up disciplines in various related aspects to international e-commerce. ESF calls for the discussions to move smoothly and rapidly with an intention to reaching a high standard agreement if possible by the Twelve WTO Ministerial in June 2020 in Astana (Kazakhstan).

ESF particularly  urges Trade Ministers gathering in Davos, in the traditional ministerial meeting taking place in the fringe of the World Economic Forum, to take a clear stance on this issue. See Position Paper here.

European services businesses call on all MEPs to take their responsibility and ratify the EU-Japan EPA

The European Services Forum called all Members of the European Parliament to take their responsibility and ratify the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) when the vote will take place tomorrow 12 December 2018 at the plenary in Strasbourg. See Statement here.

Trade in services between Japan and the European Union (EU) amounts to € 50 billion per year, with an increase of 160% since 2010 for the EU exports and € 13 billion surplus for the EU in 2016. Exports between our two regions are projected to increase by nearly a third in both parties.

Trade and investment in services, although often not clearly grasped by the members of the European Parliament, create a significant amount of jobs and growth in the EU. Trade in services represents 24.4% of the EU GDP, and supports more than 20 million jobs in the EU. The EU-Japan EPA will contribute to improve this situation, Japan being the fourth largest trading partner of the EU in services.

The Global Services Coalition released its Annual Statement in Washington on 17 October 2018 at the occasion of the CSI Global Services Summit. “The GSC expresses its strong support for the WTO and the multilateral rules-based trading system, which needs to evolve to update the rules of world trade from yesterday to a rulebook for the 21st century. Businesses, local and foreign, in all sectors need to be able to compete in a non-discriminatory global environment. The WTO is critical to achieving this objective”. See here.

“Potential Benefits of an Australia-EU FTA – Key Issues an Options”

On 15 October 2018, Adelaide Universtity Press published the new book “Potential Benefits of an Australia-EU FTA – Key Issues an Options” edited by Jane Drak-Brockmann and Patrick Messerlin.  ESF Director Pascal Kerneis contributed to two chapters of the book: Chapter 6 “Limit of the EU Negotiating Competence” and Chapter 14 “Professional services”. You can find the book here.

European Business Calls for Swift Ratification of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement

Today, 12th October 2018, ESF joined a large group of Business trade associations to reiterate their strong support for the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), and call on the European Parliament to proceed with a swift ratification process, following the signature of the Agreement on 17 July 2018. This will allow both businesses and consumers as a whole to reap the benefits of this modern, comprehensive and balanced Agreement.

“Japan and the EU are two like-minded and highly developed economies with a similar approach to today’s challenges and long-standing trade and investment links. Trade in goods and services between Japan and the EU exceeds 160 billion euro per year, and bilateral exports are estimated to increase by 29% for Japan and 34% for the EU.” Says the statement (here).

This statement comes at a time where INTA committee of the European Parliament is examining the EPA,  and where many MEPs have tabled a worrying large number of amendments, contesting the possible consent to the EPA.

ESF and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) signed MOU

In the fringe of the WTO Public Forum 2018 that took place on 2-4 October in Geneva, Mr. Noel Clehane, ESF Chairman and Ms. Shobana Kamineni, Chairperson of the  National Committee on Services of the Confederation of Indian Industries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), inpresence of H.E. J.S. Deepak, Ambassador of India to the WTO, where both parties agree to promote the development bilateral economic relations by providing a platform for businessmen to meet, discuss and explore business opportunities in trade, – investments, in the Services sector. You can find copy of the MOU here.

ESF Panel at WTO Public Forum 2018

On 2nd October 2018, the European Services Forum organised a Working Session at the WTO Public Forum 2018 that took place in Geneva. The title of  session 23 – Room D – was “How can WTO contribute to ensure that technology enables trade in goods and services in 2030 and beyond? Is the E-Commerce Multilateral Initiative the right solution?”.  The panel featured prominent experts like Mr. Hosuk Lee-Makiyama – Director – ECIPE (The European Centre for International Political Economy) ; H.E. Álvaro Cedeño Molinari, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the WTO; Mr. Adriaan Scheiris, EU Public Affairs Manager, UPS (business community); and Ms. Lee Tuthill – Trade in Services Division – WTO.  The session gathered a full room of more than 120 participants.You can listen to the audio by following link on Session 23.

ESF Position on WTO Modernisation

Ahead of the WTO Public Forum that will take place this week (2-4 October 2018) in Geneva, the the European Services Forum finalised its Position on the WTO Reform. In times where international trade rules are challenged, the European services industries stand for praising the role of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The setting up of the multilateral system has been the cornerstone of the development of the world economy since the second world war. The establishment of international rule of law, with countries taking commitments to respect their trading partners in exchange of mutually agreed access to each other markets, is the simple basis of today’s international trading system. It has allowed the prevention of major trade conflicts between nations and allowed the economies to strive, alleviating millions out of poverty, creating millions of jobs, fostering innovation and growth.  This must be preserved.

See full text of the Position here.

EU and Japan trade deal welcomed by the EU Service industries

ESF issued a press statement today, 17 July 2018, welcoming the signature of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement in Tokyo. See Press-Release here.

ESF contributed to Event on EU-Japan EPA

On Friday 13 July 2018, on behalf of the Government of Japan, the EU-Japan Centre organised an event entitled: “The Japan-EU EPA: Expanding our Rules-Based, Free Trading Sphere to Create Economic Opportunities for Businesses”.

H.E. Ambassador Kazuo Kodama delivered a key note address highlighting the important economic opportunities the EPA brings to business in Japan, the EU and the broader global economy.  Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, senior fellow in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economy (LSE) and lead author of the European Commission’s impact assessment study of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, shared his analysis on the implication of the EPA on the trade and investment environment as well as highlight key findings from his new LSE Research Paper, published on 16 July 2018. ESF Director also contributed to a panel of that event.

ESF Position Paper on Framework for Screening FDI into the EU

Today, 3rd July 2018, ESF sent its Position Paper on the European Commission’s  proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council “establishing a framework for screening of foreign direct investments into the European Union” to the three European institutions, ahead of the trilogue on that proposal. See Position here.

As a question of principle, the European services industries strongly support the openness of the EU market to foreign direct investments. ESF advocates for a narrow and further clarified definition of security and public order to avoid different interpretations between different Member States. ESF supports the fact that the ultimate decision to allow, condition or block FDI lies with the Member State where the investment project is planned/completed.

ESF takes note that services sectors are listed as “projects or programmes of Union interest” and calls for clearer definition of the notion of “critical infrastructures” as interpreted by the European Court of Justice. As for the sectors that should be screened, ESF believes that an overly detailed list might have a deterrent effect on Foreign investors who might hesitate to invest and innovate in the EU. We hence do not support the Parliament’s amendments for a long and detailed list of sectors.

Importance of Trade in Services in the EU-UK Future Relationship

The European service industries called on the Brexit negotiators to recognize the critical importance of trade in services in the EU-UK future relationship. The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union risks creating major disruption for services industries, with the danger of adverse consequences in terms of employment and wealth-creation across the EU and the UK. “The business community requires legal certainty as early as possible. We therefore call on the negotiators to take all necessary steps to minimise business disruption, to provide clarity as soon as possible on the Withdrawal Agreement, and to allow some flexibility in the management and duration of the transition period” said Noel Clehane, Chairman of the European Services Forum (ESF) in a letter addressed to Brexit Chiefs Negotiators.

Services are the basis of both economies, representing 74% of EU GDP and 73% of the EU labour force and 80.4% of UK GDP and 83.5% of the UK labour force. “Services trade related issues are often not seen as decisive in trade negotiations, but in this case and without any doubt, they will be” highlighted Pascal Kerneis, ESF Director. See Press Release & Graphs here.

ESF and ASR welcome the launch of the EU-Australia trade negotiations

On the occasion of the travel of EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström to Australia on 18 June 2018, the European Services Forum (ESF) and the Australian Services Roundtable (ASR) welcome the launch of the EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations.  Services represent over 35% of Australia’s total exports to the EU, and vice-versa. Services-related issues will be crucial components of the final agreement. See Press release here.

Book “Australia, the European Union and the New Trade Agenda”
Published by ANU Press: June 2017

ESF Director contributed to the Book entitled “Australia, the European Union and
the New Trade Agenda” that was published by ANU Press in June 2017.

You can find the flyer of the book here.

You can download the book for free here.

You can find the Chapter by ESF Director here below:

More on EU-Australia on our dedicated page here.

ESF letter to EU28 Member States on European Commission’s Proposal on Cross-border data flows in Trade Agreements

ESF supports the view that the Commission’s proposal should address the protection of personal data and privacy. However, ESF considers that some part of the proposal could potentially allow trading partners to misuse a data protection regulation for ultimately protectionist purposes and introduce localisation requirements or bypass any other commitment taken in other part of the trade agreement, and hence suggests amendments.

ESF also calls upon the European Institutions to ensure that EU trade agreements include provisions that would enable data transfers both ways and provide legal certainty and predictability. Finally, ESF considers that excluding data flows from regulatory cooperation dialogue is a major missed opportunity for the EU to better explain its privacy regime. See Letter here.

GSC Recommendations to the Member States of the European Union Regarding the European Commission Proposal on Data Flows in trade agreements

The Global Services Coalition sent a letter to EU Member States on 18 April 2018, where it welcomes the long awaited Proposal, which notably states that the EU will ensure that trade agreements include protections against data flow restrictions and against requirements to locate data centres and computing facilities in-country as a condition of doing business. The GSC however raises serious concerns on some aspects of the Proposal, notably a too far-reaching exception for data protection and privacy that can completely undermine the ban of localisation requirements taken in previous commitments”.

ESF Call for swift signature and ratification of concluded FTAs

ESF Chairman Noel Clehane sent a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Malmström and to all Members of the European Commission on 13 April 2018, ahead of the Commission’s College meeting on 17th April in Strasbourg, calling for swift signature and ratification of concluded FTAs, including EU-Japan and EU-Singapore. “In a world that is evolving ever faster with the digitalisation of the economy, ESF members are asking why it is taking so long after the conclusion of the difficult part of the negotiations, to move to the implementation phase” says the letter. ESF urged the Commission to submit the trade parts of these agreements as being full EU competence, to the European Council and the European Parliament, for signature and ratification as soon as possible.

Joint Industry letter calling for ratification of EU-Vietnam FTA

On 12 April 2018, ESF has co-signed a letter with other European business associations calling for Quick Progress on the EU-Vietnam FTA that has been concluded for some time, and business is eager to see it ratified and implemented as soon as possible.

Gateway of India Geoeconomic Dialogue in Mumbai on 12-13 March 201

ESF Managing Director participated to the Gateway of India Geoeconomic Dialogue in Mumbai on 12-13 March 2018, where he talked on Session 3 on « The Future is Trade In Services” – See Video of the session here  and Detailed Programme here.

GSC Statement on Importance of WTO Maintaining a Positive Way Forward on Services and Digital Trade at MC11

“Now more than ever we need to reaffirm the benefits of the multilateral trading system and the open markets for services trade and investment that it supports. That is why the GSC affirms its strong support for the WTO as an institution as well as its rules and enforcement mechanisms” the GSC Statement  reads.


ESF signed a Joint Statement with 14 other business associations around the globe, representing business from 34 countries and €20 trillion in combined turnover,  expressing support for a successful MC11 in Buenos Aires. The organisations emphasised the need that the WTO members will rally around the organisation and protect the multilateral trading system for the benefit of all countries and citizens.

ESF Chairman at the EU-Turkey High Level Economic Dialogue

Today, on 8th December, at the EU-Turkey High Level Economic Dialogue that took place in the Berlaymont Building in Brussels, ESF Chairman Noel Clehane gave the ESF priorities for the hopefully to be-launched-soon Modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union, calling for removing barriers on trade and investment in services sectors and for the opening of the public procurement.

The session was cp-chaired by European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen and Turkey Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet SimSek.

European Services Industry call for the conclusion of an ambitious EU-MERCOSUR Trade Agreement

ESF Chairman Noel Clehane wrote letters to EC Vice President Katainen, European Commissioner for Trade, Ms. Cecilia Malmström and European Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Phil Hogan to express the support of the European services sectors to conclude an ambitious EU-Mercosur trade agreement, with significant commitments in services.

We called upon the EU negotiators to ensure that a deal will seriously improve Mercosur’s’ commitments in services, as well as improve market access and conditions in public procurement. Emphasis was notably made on the need for provisions guaranteeing flows of data are crucial for service providers across sectors to take full advantage of the business opportunities in the Mercosur countries.

A similar letter has been sent to the four foreign affairs ministers of the Mercosur countries.

Business Associations Joint Statement on Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters

ESF and three other European business associations, adopted a joint statement expressing their support for the positive evolution of the EU’s free trade agreements and their trade and sustainable development chapters. “We stress that the intention of the Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapter in trade agreements is to promote long-term cooperation to foster sustainability and promote international standards. It is not envisaged to provide instant solutions to complex issues that are not related to trade, and hence the emphasis must remain on engaging with partner countries in a continuous manner to help them develop and implement international standards and regulations” says the statement, which was sent to the  European Council, Commission and Parliament.

Global Services Coalition statement on digital trade

The Global Services Coalition adopted a new statement on Digital Trade, where it draws the  services industries’ concerns on the appearance of certain forced data localization policies and practices, that may threaten to disrupt the continued growth and success of trade and commerce worldwide. The Global Services Coalition urges governments across the world to promote discussion in the OECD, the WTO and other possible plurilateral initiatives including the  resumption of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) in order to create high-standard rules on data flow that are compatible with industry-led best practices

Global Services Coalition statement on Trade and Investment

At the occasion of the Global Services Summit that took place on 17th October 2017 in Washington DC, the Global Services Coalition adopted a joint statement on trade and investment, calling for broad range of services trade and investment questions that need to be addressed. They include “new market-opening, fairness in national treatment of trade and investment, fair and transparent domestic practices, facilitation of cross border data flows and a prohibition on forced data localization for all services sectors, avoidance of forms of cyber-regulation that restrict trade unnecessarily and disproportionately, disciplines on state-owned enterprises, and fresh initiatives towards regulatory cooperation”.

ESF New Chairman, Noel Clehane

The European Services Forum announced the appointment of its new Chairman, Mr. Noel Clehane, Global Head of Regulatory & Public Policy Affairs at BDO, the global auditing and professional services network. The announcement coincides with the ESF’s major conference in Brussels on “Trade in Services: Unlocking a multi-trillion-euro economy for all and across sectors”, which attracted more than 250 participants and high-level speakers, including EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

Mr. Clehane stressed that “All exporters should look at the services components of trade negotiations, where crucial aspects like cross-border data flows, access for investment and movement of business personnel are dealt with”. see Press Release

EU – Japan reach an agreement on Trade deal

Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, met in Brussels today for the 24th Summit between the European Union (EU) and Japan and have reached an “agreement in principle of the Economic Partnership Agreement and the Strategic Partnership Agreement at political level”.This agreement in principle on the main elements of an “EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement” will be the most important bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the EU .ESF issued a short press release today to welcome the political agreement and encourage a swift conclusion.

ESF Director participated actively to the EU-Australia Leadership Forum that took place in Sydney on 2-6 June 2017

The EU-Australia Leadership Forum (EUALF) is a unique project in the EU’s suite of public diplomacy actions and demonstrates a shared commitment to the already strong bilateral relationship. The Forum’s overall objective is to broaden and deepen the existing ties and in so doing, help shape the vision for the partnership, based on the future EU-Australia Framework Agreement and forthcoming EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement. ESF Director is member of the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Committee of the Forum.

See web site here.  

Joint Business call to a successful and inclusive conclusion of the EU/Japan negotiations.

ESF, along with other European and business organisations sent a joint statement to the Commission outlining how we want to foster a strong trade partnership Agreement/Free Trade Agreement between Japan and the EU. The statement reiterates the value of the EU-Japan trade relationship to our jobs in our respective sectors and also how it will improve regulatory coherence, and thereby expand trade and investment in both economies leading to more economic growth and employment in both Europe and Japan. This statement was co-signed by eleven interested parties representing business across the EU.

Global industry express great concerns on China Cybersecurity law

On 15 May 2017, ESF signed a joint letter with 53 other trade associations covering 11 countries calling on the Chinese government to delay implementation of the country’s cybersecurity law. There are wide-spread concerns about the implementation of China’s Cybersecurity Law. In the letter, the groups signal their belief that the rules will weaken security and fracture markets by effectively erecting trade barriers along national boundaries and across industry sectors that rely on information technology goods and services to conduct business.

European Services Industry welcomes the European Parliament’s Vote to ratify the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

The European Services Forum (ESF) welcomed the historic vote on 15 February 2017 by the European Parliament to provide its consent to implementation of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The strong majority shows that the EU can lead future world trade policy with transparent process and democratic support. See Press-Release here and Joint-Statement with Canadian Services Coalition sent to all MEPs before the vote here.

ESF calls for conclusion of an ambitious EU-Japan EPA

Confident that the EU-Japan FTA talks are now reaching an end-game phase, ESF sent a letter on Monday, 12 December to Trade Commissioner Malmström urging the negotiators to move forward the negotiations in a constructive manner and make all efforts necessary to successfully conclude as soon as possible an ambitious and balanced EU Japan FTA (see Letter here). ESF also co-signed a joint European industry letter on the same issue.  And finally, ESF and the Japanese Services Network (JSN) brought a united voice of the services industry from both parties in a joint statement calling for the conclusion of an ambitious EU-Japan agreement.

Global Services Coalition Message to Ambassadors and Chief Negotiators of the TiSA Countries