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 Event – 10th 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

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 can 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.

ESF Director at Conference by at European Institute for Asian Studies on Fintech in Landlocked countries

Mr Pascal Kerneis, Managing Director, European Services Forum expressed his view about Fintech in the landlocked world by mentioning the need for investment in telecommunications and IT infrastructure; the need for strong regulation to manage financial risks. He invited the 32 existing Land locked countries to adopt investment attractive legislation for investors and provide positive signals by joining WTO initiatives on E-commerce and services domestic regulation.

Global Services Coalition Letter to India Prime Minister on Data Localisation Requirements

The Global Services Coalition (GSC) sent a letter to Indian highest authorities to express serious concerns in relation to the Indian Government’s apparent increasing use of mandatory data localization requirements, including the Reserve Bank of India’s April 6, 2018 Directive requiring that all data relating to electronic payment systems be stored locally in India, as well as the data localisation requirements contained in the 2018 Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB). See letter here.

GSC argued that data localisation requirements and other policies that restrict data flows are likely to constrain growth and innovation, and reduce the scope for leading Indian IT firms and their foreign businesses’ counterparts to engage in business and investment contributing to promoting India’s competitiveness and growth. GSC also mentioned that data localisation requirements can weaken rather improve data security.

GSC expresses strong support for the WTO and the multilateral rules-based trading system

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 WTOMr. 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:

  1. Gains for Trade in Services in an EU–Australia Free Trade Agreement: A European Perspective (PDF, 0.2MB) – Pascal Kerneis doi

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.

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

The Global Services Coalition is disappointed that it proved necessary to cancel the Ministerial Meeting that was scheduled for the 5th and 6th of December 2016 with the aim of bringing the TiSA negotiations to a timely close. It addressed a message to the Ambassadors and Chief Negotiators of the TiSA Countries to call for swift resumption of negotiations: “It is essential that you find a way to ensure that the progress made in the core text of the agreement, the impressive work that has been done by the negotiators to come close to finalizing texts of annexes on horizontal and sector specific disciplines, and the efforts made by most of the participating countries to improve their market access offers be retained, so that none of the progress to date is lost when formal negotiations resume in earnest”, the letter reads.

Business Breakfast Forum | In Pursuit of Services Trade and Investment Outcomes in the Australia/European Union FTA – 2 December 2016 in Sydney

On 2 December 2016, The EU Centre for Global Affairs collaborated with the Australian Services Roundtable (ASR) and the European Australian Business Council (EABC) to sponsor a high profile European business visitor, Pascal Kerneis, Managing Director of the European Services Forum and Member of the Steering Committee for the Australia EU Leadership Forum , to address a Business Breakfast Forum which took more than 50 participants on a business roller coaster ride across the highs, the lows and the bumps in the current services trade negotiating landscape, from doldrums in the GATS and heights of success with TPP, to crisis with TTIP, through BREXIT, across hiccups with CETA, to the end-game with TISA, a new initiative in APEC, the impact of the Trump Administration, EU intentions in Asia and the prospects, against that background, for a safe and successful landing with the Australia/EU FTA. See presentation here.

Asia FDI Forum II – Hong-Kong – China Investment Strategy

ESF Director contributed to the Chinese University of Hong Kong “Asia FDI Forum II” which was held in Hong Kong on 29-30 November 2016. This is a 2-day scientific meeting with a theme on the international investment law and policy regime in Asia was entitled this year: “China`s Three-Prong Investment Strategy: Bilateral, Regional, and Global Track”.  See his presentation here.

Potentials for Strengthening EU-Taiwan Trade and Investment Relations

The inclusion of Taiwan in the Commission’s new Trade Communication “Trade for all”, adopted in October 2015, is a major step in the right direction, stating that “the EU will explore launching negotiations on investment with Taiwan”. A Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA) with Taiwan would go beyond investment protection, adopting a comprehensive approach with respect to market access as well as to rules that improve the overall regulatory framework. The report entitled “Taiwan and EU Trade and Economic Relations: The Case for a Deep and Comprehensive Bilateral Investment Agreement” drafted by ESF, and co-sponsored by the Bureau of Foreign Trade of Taiwan, was to be presented on 24th November in Brussels at the European Institute for Asian Studies – EIAS. The Report was presented during a seminar at the European Institute for Asian Studies in presence of Ms Mei-Hua WANG, Vice-Minister of Economic Affairs, Taiwan. It aims at making an in-depth survey on the potential benefits of an EU-Taiwan trade and investment agreement for both sides; focusing on assessing the potential gains for the European services sector that could result from a liberalization of the Taiwanese market. The report furthermore identifies the specific issues that a potential bilateral investment agreement should address and asks whether Taiwan could potentially become a hub in East Asia for European companies.  It then make suggestion on the content of a Deep and Comprehensive BIA.

Global Services Coalition presses for strong and clear TiSA provisions on Data Localization

In a Joint Statement issued on 20 September 2016, the Global Services Coalition is urging TiSA negotiators to redouble their efforts to reach agreement on strong and effective rules for all services sectors guaranteeing free flow of data and prohibiting forced data localisation. As businesses around the world compete in the global market, the free flow of data across borders has become the life blood of trade. All trade in goods and services – from the placing of an order to confirmation of delivery – now involves the electronic transfer of data. Data-transfer is today’s all-purpose means of business communication, spurring economic growth and innovation in all industries. This means that forced data localization policies and practices, where they exist or are proposed, have emerged as a major trade barrier, threatening to disrupt the continued growth and success of trade and commerce worldwide.

Canadian and European services industries call for prompt implementation of CETA

The Canadian Services Coalition (CSC) and the European Services Forum (ESF) call on the European Union and its member states and on the Canadian government to swiftly sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). “CETA should be ratified and implemented as soon as possible”, they said in a joint statement.

Business groups express their continued support for TTIP negotiations

On 5 September 2016, after calls in the press to alt TTIP talks by some political leaders in some EU Member States, a group of European trade associations – including the European Services Forum – reiterate their strong support for the ongoing negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in a joint statement.  Business groups on both sides of the Atlantic remain ready and willing to engage with all stakeholders to support these efforts.

Global Services Coalition call on the TiSA negotiators to intensify efforts toward a high ambition agreement

A 45 strong delegation of business representatives from the Global Services Coalition went to Geneva during the nineteenth round of TiSA talks (8-18/07/2016) to provide further insights into the views of the services industries, and to urge all TiSA participants to maintain a high level of momentum in improving market access offers and finalizing work on rules. GSC supports completion of the TiSA negotiations by the end of the year if such negotiations produce a high-standard agreement that includes strengthened services disciplines and yields new market access on a wide range of commercially meaningful sectors.

Please find attached the full statement adopted by the GSC on 11 July 2016.

Business Alliance for TTIP Joint Statement: High expectations for 14th round – “EU and US must deliver now on TTIP”

Brussels, 11 July 2016 – The 14th round of negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement between the EU and the US will take place this week in Brussels. Ahead of this critical round, the Business Alliance for TTIP stresses to the EU and the US that the time must be now to make critical progress towards the conclusion of a comprehensive TTIP deal that could boost growth, competitiveness and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. See Statement here.

ESF as member of the new Transatlantic Financial Regulatory Coherence (TFRC) Coalition

The Coalition, which represents a large part of the transatlantic financial services community, has been brought together by a strong and shared belief on both sides of the Atlantic that improving regulatory cooperation between the U.S. and EU must be a priority. It believes that a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that includes both market-opening measures and a framework for regulatory coherence in financial services is the best way of achieving this. See Press Release and letter to relevant EU and US institutions.

GSC and Global industry associations letters on China regulation imposing “controllable” informatisation systems

Services Coalitions from Colombia, EU, Japan, UK and US sent to Mr. Xiang Junbo, Chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) a letter to express concerns regarding China’s April 19, 2016 notification G/TBT/N/CHN/1172 to the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade of the World Trade Organization on the Provisions on Insurance System Informatisation.  ESF also signed a global industry association letter on the same issue.

ESF Comments on European Commission Trade Policy Strategy

ESF Chairman Sir Thomas Harris sent a letter on 29 April 2016 to the European Commission forwarding the Comments of the European Services Forum on the new EU Trade Policy Strategy.  ESF welcomed the comprehensive and ambitious strategy.  Many of the issues of concerns to the European services sectors have been mentioned and ESF considers that the assessments and recommendations made are going in the right direction.  ESF Position paper is providing opinion and priorities on the various sections of the Commission Communication “Trade For All” that are of interest to European Services sectors.

GSC call on the TiSA negotiators to intensify efforts toward a high ambition agreement

The Global Services Coalition (GSC), gathering representatives of services industries from 12 organisations of 10 major TiSA Participating countries, sent today a message to the TiSA negotiators.  “GSC calls upon the negotiators to make utmost strides to conclude the talks by the end of this year, consistent with ensuring a high standard and ambitious agreement”.

To read the Joint Statement, please click here

ESF Call to Trade Commissioner Malmström for an ambitious TTIP

In a letter of 16 March 2016 to EU Trade Commissioner Malmström, ESF reiterated the European services sectors support for an ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the Unites States. There are surely too many unjustified barriers in the EU that need to be tackled. and on the other side of the pond, the United States continue to practice total ban in shipping. There are equity caps like 25% in aviation transport and 20% in telecoms, and significant behind the border barriers like in telecoms and satellites.  There is a very long list of citizenship requirements e.g. in banking, insurance and accounting. Residency requirements exist for legal, accounting, engineering, and insurance services. Local presence requirements exist for instance for legal, accounting, insurance as well as a legal form requirement in insurance, etc.  The EU systematically tries to remove those kind of obstacles with all our other trading partners with which we have negotiated or are currently negotiating. TTIP should not be any exception, in particular if TTIP is bound to become a new benchmark.

Business Alliance for TTIP Reiterates Importance of Ambitious TTIP Deal

Ahead of the critical negotiating round in Brussels this week, the Business Alliance for TTIP – which represents key industry associations, including the European Services Forum – ESF – issued a statement of its strong support for a comprehensive TTIP deal that could boost growth, competitiveness and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. The statement notably requests that “the agreement should aim to remove all remaining market access barriers, especially in the services sector which forms the backbone of the transatlantic economy”.

ESF Joins EU and U.S. Business Organisations Urging TTIP to Include Full Coverage of Financial Services

“As the United States (U.S.) and the European Union (EU) enter the 12th round of negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) the financial and related professional services industry continues to support an ‘ambitious, comprehensive, and high-standard trade and investment agreement’. In order for TTIP to realize its full potential, we believe any agreement should treat financial services like every other sector in the negotiations and be dealt with in a comprehensive manner, primarily by including a framework for financial services regulatory cooperation but also through solutions to outstanding market access issues.” says the statement that you can find here.

European Service Industry welcomes the EP Recommendations on TiSA

ESF Press Release on TISA- Brussels, 3rd February 2016 – 14:00. : “The European Services Forum (ESF), the voice of the European services sectors in international trade, welcomes the adoption today by the European Parliament, with a strong majority (76%), of the Recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). The report of MEP Viviane Reding (EPP – LU) gives clear blue lines and red lines to the negotiators to carry these negotiations in Geneva.  The 16th Round of talks is currently going on this week and is focussing on fine-tuning rules on financial services, on telecom and e-commerce, and on domestic regulations.  ESF also encouraged EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström to push for an ambitious deal when she met with other TiSA Countries ministers in Davos on 23rdJanuary. “This EP Report on TiSA is a strong political support to the Commission negotiators, which will help the EU in getting a strong deal with its TiSA partners” said ESF Chairman Sir Thomas Harris“The industry will continue to closely monitor the negotiations and hopes for an ambitious conclusion by end 2016” he added.

Find the Press Release here

ESF Position on EU Proposal on Investment Protection in TTIP

ESF Chairman Sir Thomas Harris sent a letter to all EU Trade Minister on the Commission’s Proposal on investment protection and an investment court system in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). ESF expressed its concerns that the level of protection for outward European foreign direct investment (FDI) (of which the Services companies are major contributors) could be seriously diminished under the proposal, when compared with the current level of protection, contrary to the assurance given in the TTIP Mandate that the negotiations would be “on the basis of the highest levels of liberalisation and highest standards of protection that both Parties have negotiated to date”.

To read the letter, click here.

Fresh momentum for the WTO: MC10 Nairobi must deliver

Ahead of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which will take place from 15 to 18 December 2015 in Nairobi (Kenia), European Services Forum (ESF), Eurocommerce and the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) have gathered the support of 23 business associations worldwide to call upon the WTO to deliver on current and future challenges of international trade.

In a joint statement, this business alliance – representing a combined turnover close to 10 trillion euros – requested WTO members to ratify and implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and to seal agreements on Information Technology (ITA) and Environmental Goods (EGA). The statement also emphasises the need to deliver on matters still being negotiated within the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and to discuss a new set of issues and new negotiating dynamics with better prospects to reach agreement.

To read the full statement, click here.

ESF Contribution to INTA Hearing on Trade Relations with Australia & New-Zealand

ESF Director  was invited to contribute to the INTA Public Hearing on 1st December 2015 on the forthcoming trade talks with Australia and New Zealand. You can find the programme here. Mr. Kerneis called for a rapid launch of deep and comprehensive trade agreement with the two countries, that are like-minded trade partners, highlighting the importance of the EU services exports to Australia (41% of total EU export in Australia in 2014, and 33% with New-Zealand. The hearing was attended by New Zealand Minister of Trade Hon Tim Groser and Australia Acting Deputy Secretary for Trade Mr Justin Brown.

Industry Associations letter in support of swift ratification of CETA

ESF signed a joint industry associations letter in support of a swift ratification of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) sent on 2nd December 2015 to Presidents Schulz, Juncker and Tusk as well as Prime Minister Trudeau,  together with 17 other business organisations from Canada and the EU.

ESF joined EU business coalition calls for action on rising Turkish protectionism

EU business is worried about the course economic and trade policy is taking in Turkey. In a Joint Statement issued ahead of the G20 meeting in Antalya hosted by Turkey in which G20 leaders are expected to call for progress in global trade talks ahead of the December Nairobi WTO Ministerial meeting, ESF joined a coalition of leading business associations in the EU to complain about rising protectionism in Turkey. It also urged for a swift start to a planned upgrade of the 1995 EU Turkey customs union.

Joint Business responses to the Chinese Draft Supervision Rules on Insurance Institutions Adopting Digitalised Operations

European Services Forum (ESF) and DIGITALEUROPE sent a joint response to the Chinese Draft Supervision Rules on Insurance Institutions Adopting Digitalised Operations.  The two organisations recommended that in further developing the draft regulation and the implementing regulations, the legislators engage and partner with Insurance companies and IT providers to determine technical viability of the requests expressed by China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC). You can find the joint response here.  ESF also signed on another letter on the same issue with a broader international business coalition (see here).

Global Services Coalition statement highlights the importance of moving forward on trade

The Global Services Coalition met in Washington on 22nd October – at the edge of the Global Services Summit and adopted a joint statement that you can find here.  In substance, the statement highlights the following: “The closing weeks of 2015 will see several significant opportunities for governments and their trade negotiators at the multilateral (WTO MC10), plurilateral (TiSA, ITA, EGA) and regional levels (TPP, TTIP, EU-Japan) to take major steps forward in delivering economic growth, job creation, and consumer choice. The GSC urges all the governments involved in these negotiations to conclude them with the high-level and ambitious commitments to market opening that are so badly needed to kick start new economic growth and to serve as the basis for new agreements which include broader economies.”

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