Category Archives: ESF

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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 Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations and the EU’s bilateral trade negotiations on services and investments

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