You will find on this section various reports of ESF activities.

This section is a work in progress. The content has not been updated since 2015

European services industry views on ISDS

ESF Chairman Sir Thomas Harris sent today, Tuesday 5 May 2015 to the European institutions the views of the European service industries on the issue of Investment protection and Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.  ESF expressed the services companies great concerns raised by the recent position of the S&D Group as well as by some EU Member States representatives against the inclusion of ISDS in TTIP. Investment is about trust. Investment protection, including the right to defend it through a neutral dispute settlement, provides that trust.  ESF is strongly in favour of having a state of the art ISDS mechanism in TTIP and in any other agreement which will include investment protection rules. Find the letter here.  Find also some facts and figures in this “ISDS in One Shot“.

GSC Business Delegation to Geneva during TiSA round

More than 30 business delegates from various TiSA countries rallied to Geneva to meet TiSA countries negotiators and ambassadors to express their support for ambitious progress in the negotiations during the 12th Round of talks (13-17 April).  At this occasion, the Global Services Coalition adopted a Joint statement in which “they urge that efforts be made to bring commitments within TiSA to the standard of the “best of the best” commitments within the existing FTAs, both in the interests of greater uniformity and to maximise TiSA’s value as a model for multilateralisation”. Find Joint Statement Here.

ESF/CEPS Joint Luncheon: “Why Services are critical in TTIP”

More than 130 participants attended the luncheon event organised by ESF and the Think-tank CEPS on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 in full CEPS Conference room on the theme “Why Services are critical in TTIP”. You can find the programme here, which gathered speakers from ESF, CEPS, ACE, IBM and the European Commissions TTIP Services Negotiator.  The presentation of ESF Director Pascal Kerneis can be found here, and the one of Ian Prichard, Secretary General of the Architects Council of Europe (ACE) here.

Joint EU Industry Letter on new China Banking regulation

ESF joined other European business associations (BUSINESSEUROPE, DIGITAL EUROPE,  European Banking Federation, EUROCHAMBRES, and TheCityUK) in a letter addressed to many Vice-Presidents and Commissioners of the European Commission, calling them to take action regarding the recent decision by the the Chinese Government  to adopt and implement “Guiding Opinions on the Application of Secure and Controllable Information Technology to Strengthen Banking Industry Network Security and Informatisation”.  That regulation will shut the door for many foreign ICT companies to the Chinese banking IT market by requiring that banks procure “secure and controllable ICT” for up to 75% of their networks and systems.  European banks present in China will have to completely reshuffle their ICT system to be in compliance with the guidelines.  The letter can be found here.

ESF Presentation to INTA on TISA Hearing

International Trade Committee (INTA) of the European Parliament held a Public Hearing on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) on 24th February 2015 (see programme).  ESF Managing Director presented the views of the European services industry on the market access and rules pillars, and going through the 5 blue lines and 5 red lines expressed by the Rapporteur on TISA, Ms Viviane Reding on 13 January 2015 at a press conference. The presentation is here.

ESF Contribution to TTIP Stakeholders event on Round 8

ESF made a presentation on “Regulatory Cooperation in TTIP: What’s in for services?” at the Stakeholders Event organised by the TTIP negotiators at the occasion of the 8th Round (see Programme).  Services represent more than 75% of the EU-US GDP and more than 35% of EU-US trade in services, so TTIP must ensure regulatory cooperation process also for services sectors. Presentation is here.

ESF views on Investment protection and ISDS

ESF Managing Director Pascal Kerneis made a presentation at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 3rd February at a Hearing in the framework of the preparation of the EESC opinion on ” Investment Protection and ISDS in EU Trade and Investment Agreements”. You can find the presentation here.

Business Alliance for TTIP Welcome Trade Commissioner Malmström

The Business Alliance for TTIP, gathering AmCham EU, AmCham in EU Member States, BUSINESSEUROPE, ERT, EuroChambres, European Services Forum (ESF), Transatlantic Business Council (TABC), the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN), UAPME and US Chamber organised a cocktail reception to welcome the new EU Trade Commissioner and hear her update on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on 2 February 2015, the first day of the 8th Rounds of talks between the EU and the US.  more than 400 participants attended the event that took place at the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU in Brussels.

Joint Industry Statement on financial services regulatory cooperation & market access in TTIP

Ahead of the 8th TTIP Round next week (2-6 Feb 2015) in Brussels ESF signed a Joint Statement by EU and US business organisations with cross-sector representation as well as financial services and related professional trade associations that was sent earlier today (30 January) to the EU and US Chief negotiators and other relevant policymakers reiterating our view that TTIP must both address financial services market access and establish a financial services regulatory cooperation mechanism.

ESF actions in support of investment protection and ISDS in TTIP

On the day of the publication by the European Commission of its report on Consultation on investment protection in EU-US TTIP trade negotiations (13 January 2015), the Business Alliance for TTIP, to which ESF contributes, published an Op-Ed in the web media EurActiv: On the same day, ESF also co-signed a Joint Associations Statement in support of investment protection and ISDS in TTIP.

ESF Position Paper on Regulatory Cooperation in TTIP: The case of the services sectors

ESF adopted its “Position Paper on Regulatory Cooperation in TTIP: The case of the services sectors” on 17 November 2014. European Services companies are very keen in seeing concrete progress on regulatory cooperation in TTIP, not only in the goods sectors but also and foremost in the services sectors, including but not only the financial services sector.  Services sectors are all regulated and an agreement with regulatory cooperation commitments that would not encompass strong cooperation among regulators of the services sectors would not make much sense in our modern economies where services represent more than three quarter of our GDP both in the EU and in the US. See the Position Paper here.

Business Alliance for TTIP: Joint Statement on regulatory cooperation – 7th TTIP round

The European Business Alliance for TTIP issued today, 30 September 2014, a joint statement on regulatory cooperation in TTIP as a message to the TTIP negotiators who are meeting in Chevy Chase (Maryland) near Washington for the 7th Round of talks.  The members of the Alliance “reaffirm our support for an ambitious and comprehensive agreement, including strong provisions on regulatory coherence and cooperation both at the horizontal and the sectoral level” says the statement. “Today, too many duplicative and unnecessary hurdles remain for imports and exports of goods and services between us. We need to build on the strengths of our respective regulatory systems by enhancing coordination between regulators; improving transparency, participation and accountability; and advancing greater compatibility between the systems”.

EU industry associations call for renewed engagement with India

ESF joined a group of EU Industry associations in a letter addressed to EU Council President Van Rompuy and EU Commission President Barroso on 23rd September 2014 to urge the EU to seek a renewed engagement in the EU-India trade negotiations, which should resume and should focus on addressing a number of issues where progress would improve business conditions and support the investment that India needs.  These include i) Removing unjustifiable barriers to entry including burdensome licensing requirements, local content rules and data storage requirements, ii) Improving public procurement rules which tend to favour Indian industry; iii) Institutional reform to improve the ease of doing business including infrastructure bottlenecks, administrative transparency and unpredictable and discriminatory taxation; iv) Lifting restrictions on FDI in a range of sectors, in particular services, and bolstering investment protection; v) Improving the ability of foreign financial institutions to operate in India to improve the overall financing of the economy; vi) Facilitating the movement of services providers including the ability of European companies to expeditiously obtain visas and work permits in India and conversely the ability of highly qualified Indian business personnel to access the EU, etc.  You can find the joint letter here.

Global Services Coalition Position Paper on TiSA

At the occasion of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) week of negotiations in this 4th week of September 2014 in Geneva, Ten coalitions of services industries have adopted for the first time an in-depth Position Paper, where they expressed their common views on the services only plurilateral talks. The Global Services Coalition expresses its strong support for an ambitious and future-oriented agreement.   They believe that TiSA will significantly boost the growth prospects for this vital sector of the global economy, but yet too much neglected in trade negotiations.  The Paper provides a common input on the various issues that currently are being negotiated under TiSA: better market access commitments in all modes, better horizontal and sector specific disciplines, etc.

ESF Responses to DG Trade Consultation on Investment Protection in TTIP

The European Services Forum posted the replies of the European services industry to the Commission Public Consultation on Investment Protection in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on Friday, 11 July 2014.  ESF welcomed some new proposals of the European executive, but expressed many concerns towards introduction of signifiant narrowings of the protection to investors, notably in the definition of investments, in the interpretation of the guarantee for “fair and equitable treatment”, in limiting the role of the arbitration tribunal, in excluding financial services from a standard protection, in introducing new risks of politicisation of cases, while the fundamental essence of ISDS is to ensure a neutral forum for dispute resolution, etc .

ESF Paper on  Key Principles in Bilateral Investment Agreements

ESF adopted its Position Paper on Business Support for Key Principles in Bilateral Investment Agreements on 23 May 2014. The EU is by far the world’s largest source and destination of FDI measured by both stocks and flows. European services businesses have invested nearly €3 trillion outside the EU, which must be strongly legally protected. The Paper analysis in details the various priorities of the European Services Industries related to the protection of their investments in the framework of trade policy. This is a Position Paper that looks at investment protection in general.


In a Joint Statement adopted today (22 May 2014), at the occasion of the fifth negotiating round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the US Coalition of Services Industries (CSI) and the European Services Forum (ESF) call upon the EU and US policy makers to ensure that the importance of trade and investment in services is duly reflected across the TTIP negotiations, particularly in the market access commitments, rules chapters and annexes, and in a regulatory cooperation framework.

Global Services Coalition call for an ambitious TiSA to be concluded by 2015

A special Global Services Coalition mission was in Geneva as the latest Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiating round that took place on 28 April-2 May 2014. Its delegates, representing the Coalition’s diverse membership voiced their strong support for the efforts of the TiSA participants – now nearly a third of the WTO membership – towards an ambitious agreement, and to share views with TiSA negotiators.  The GSC issued a joint statement calling the negotiators to continue focussing on an ambitious agreement. The timetable should aim at completion of negotiations by 2015 – a schedule that is challenging but, the GSC suggests, achievable.

ESF letter to EU Ministers to pursue ambitious EU-Japan FTA, and EU Business Joint-Statement

ESF, in a letter to all EU Trade Ministers, called upon the European Union to clearly recommend the continuation of the negotiations, so that all economic sectors will have a chance to benefit from the EU-Japan FTA, which should reach a balanced but ambitious result.  ESF encouraged the EU Commission and the Member States, when assessing the progress made for the mandated “one-year review” to take into consideration not only improvements made on the NTBs roadmap, but to also analyse the benefits of liberalisation and high-standard commitments on all negotiated issues, including services, that could be achieved through the conclusion of a deep and comprehensive FTA with Japan. ESF also joined a EU business joint statement – issued at the occasion of the EU-Japan Summit to take place on 7th May in Brussels – calling upon the EU to clearly recommend the continuation of the negotiations, so that trade issues relevant to all economic sectors from across the EU can be addressed in the talks and not only those of the sectors listed in the roadmap.

ESF & ESF Members priorities presented at TTIP Stakeholders Event – Brussels, 12 March 2014

At the occasion of the Fourth round of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, the European Commission organised the “Stakeholder Presentations Event” on 12th March.  It gave the opportunity to more than 90 organisations to present their views on TTIP (Programme). The European Services Forum and some of its members presented their priorities in the third session of the programme dedicated to “Issues related to services, investment and public procurement”. You can find ESF (speech & slides) and some ESF Members’ presentations (including from bankingtelecoms, legal, accounting services, etc.) in the TTIP section of this website.

BUSINESS Alliance for TTIP Press Release ahead of Fourth Round, 10 March 2014

Business Alliance for TTIP urges Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Negotiators to Remain Ambitious.  A comprehensive agreement could reinvigorate the European economy and create jobs. Markus Beyrer, Director-General, BUSINESSEUROPE, noted, “TTIP is an optimal tool to bring the transatlantic economy back on track towards sustainable growth. It is an opportunity for businesses as well as the 800 million consumers who will enjoy a broader choice of high quality products and services while benefitting from highest levels of safety and environmental standards.” See Joint Press Statement.

ESF/ECIPE Seminar on “Investment in china: China’s “New” Reforms and the Role of Services?” – Brussels, 13 February 2014

More than 70 persons participated to the Seminar organised by ESF and ECIPE on “Investment in china: China’s “New” Reforms and the Role of Services?” that took place in Brussels, on 13 February 2014. Despite China’s economic upgrade, the share of services in the Chinese economy or employment is still similar to some least-developing countries. Many doubt that employment, growth or welfare can be boosted in China without substantive reforms of the services markets.
The recent Third Plenum statement on coming reforms detailed ambitious intentions on financial reforms, foreign investments and liberalisation of utilities, including transports and telecoms. However, many still doubt China’s ability to open up: there are many questions around China’s intention to join the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) negotiations, or China’s willingness to address its foreign equity caps through investment treaties.

The speakers of the event were: Mr. Zhiming Zhang, Head of China Research, HSBC (Presentation)
Mr. Guy de Jonquières, Senior Fellow, ECIPE
Mr. Pascal Kerneis, Managing Director, ESF (Presentation)

ESF Chairman message to De Gucht and Froman on TTIP: “TTIP talks must continue at high speed and with high ambition”

“Ahead of the forthcoming stocktaking of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the EU and the United States [which will take place in Washington on 17th & 18th February], the European Services Forum urges you to continue the negotiations at high speed and with high ambition” said Sir Thomas in a letter sent to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Ambassador Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative on 11th February 2014.

 EU-US trade in services is worth more than 1.1 Billion US$ per day. “Much of our respective services markets are already open to each other, but improvement in the remaining areas where barriers continue will greatly contribute to further growth and jobs” he added, calling the two leaders “to maintain the scope of the agreement as widely as possible, with no carve-out of any issues or sectors, whether in terms of market access or regulatory coherence. The level of ambition must be as high as possible.”

European services industry hails trade ministers for saving the WTO

Following the announcement of a political deal in WTO MC9 in Bali on 7th December 2013, ESF Chairman Sir Thomas Harris commented the news by saying: “We are glad that the trade ministers in Bali have finally reached an agreement after tough talks in the last months and last hours.  This historical moment will give back some shine to the World Trade Organisation.  Today’s deal will save the WTO since it will allow it to pursue its essential negotiating role”. The European services industry is a strong supporter of the adoption and implementation of the Trade Facilitation package, since it is services companies that are carrying and clearing all these world trade goods across the borders and it is the services companies that are in charge of spreading out the imports and exports to the final consumers; and to business suppliers who often wait a long time for equipment which is essential to supply services to other businesses in the global value chain. See ESF Press release here.

ESF and BUSINESSEUROPE call for inclusion of financial services regulatory cooperation into TTIP talks

There is no dispute that the greatest potential gains from TTIP will arise from improving regulatory coordination between the US and EU markets. Given the role of financial services in supporting transatlantic commerce, important gains can be realized by reducing or eliminating redundant or inconsistent financial regulations. Companies in all of the sectors of the economy use all kinds of financial services to fund and process their operations and mitigate risks inherent in the global marketplace.  ESF and BUSINESSEUROPE argue therefore that the existing Regulatory Dialogues in Financial services and insurance could be strengthened and supported by the inclusion of financial services within the TTIP negotiations. See letter of 22 November 2013 Here

Business calls for a deal on Trade Facilitation in Bali

On 21st November, more than ten business organisations from all parts of the world (incl. ESF), believing that the consensus-driven negotiations and the progress made in the last weeks on the Draft Agreement on Trade Facilitation now have sufficient shape to be concluded and implemented, for the good of all economies, called on all developed and emerging economies to take significant step to finalise the deal with the least possible derogations or transition periods and commit to help poorer countries in achieving their customs reforms.

ESF signed Joint business statement in view of the upcoming EU-Japan Summit

ESF has signed a joint statement endorsed by a group of 20 business organisations concerning the upcoming 21st EU-Japan Summit, which will take place in Tokyo on 19th November 2013. The signatories represent a wide range of European industry and service sectors, and have issued this joint statement to reiterate their strong support for the negotiation of a deep and comprehensive FTA between the EU and Japan.

GSC Communique on the on-going Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)

On 31st October 2013, the Global Services Coalition presented a joint communiqueas the conclusion to their meeting following the Global Services Summit. The GSC supports consultations between the existing TiSA parties and the Government of China to explore China’s participation in the TiSA at a level of ambition that matches and accepts the demanding goals set by the existing participants. “We believe that one of the ways in which China can demonstrate its commitment to the level of ambition required is by accepting the already agreed core TiSA text and disciplines and by agreeing to table a high level initial offer going very significantly beyond its current GATS schedule and aiming at removing remaining market access impediments in services.” says the communiqué. The communique also reiterates the importance of countries reaching agreement at the upcoming WTO Ministerial in Bali, Indonesia, as well as the important role services play in the global economy.

European services industry applauses the political agreement on EU-Canada Trade Deal

On 18 October 2013, the European Services Forum (ESF) welcomed the political agreement that Commission President Barroso and Canadian Prime Minister Harper have made on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). This is an important moment for the European trade policy, with a major modern agreement with a strong developed economy.

ESF Managing Director Pascal Kerneis commented the news by saying: ‘We are glad that the trade negotiators finally reached an agreement after tough talks in the last months. We were eager that the last difficult issues on agriculture products would not jeopardise the overall tremendous progress achieved in this agreement.  The deal will provide better market access to European and Canadian services companies, with strong regulatory disciplines for market access, for investment and open public procurement at all levels. We encourage both parties to finalise the agreement as soon as possible and will monitor closely its ratification.’ In 2012, European services companies exported 16.8 Billion € of services to Canada.

ESF signed joint letter on CETA to Barroso and Harper

In a letter sent to Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Canadian PM Stephen Harper ESF, with other EU and Canadian business organisations, called for a rapid and successful conclusion to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The joint letter was sent on 10th October 2013.

GSC Letter to Trade Ministers of TiSA Countries

The Global Services Coalition (GSC) gathering services organisations from Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, Hong-Kong, Taiwan, UK and US adopted a joint letter on their common priorities for the on-going Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) negotiations.  The letter has been sent on 5th September to the trade ministers and their respective WTO Ambassador in Geneva, ahead of the TiSA negotiating round that took place in Geneva in the week of 16th September 2013.

ESF Visits Taiwan Coalition of Service Industries (TWCSI)

TWCSI invited Mr. Pascal Kerneis, Managing Director of the European Service Forum to Taipei on 3rd June 2013, to share the European point of view on the plurilateral service agreement, now formally called Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and future cooperation between Taiwan and the EU. Mr. Kerneis also met with government agencies including Mr. Chun-Fu Chang, Director General of the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) and Ms. Jenny Yang, Deputy Representative of the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs to discuss about EU-Taiwan trade relations, and the process of TISA. He also visited Mr Freddy Hoeglund, CEO of the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT), and exchanged opinions on trade and investment issues.

Also, Mr. Kerneis gave a speech on TISA that TWCSI and the Chun Hui Institite for Economic Research jointly held to discuss about service trade in EU, and the possible development of TISA.. Mr. Roy Lee, Deputy CEO of the WTO and RTA center and Mr.Steven Tan, Lawyer at Baker & McKenzie were invited as the chair and panelist of the seminar.

ESF Director met Japanese negotiators and businesses – Tokyo, 30, 31 May 2013

The recently launched FTA negotiations with Japan were the major reason why it was felt important to meet the various interlocutors in Tokyo. ESF Director attended a programme kindly organised by the European Business Council in Japan (EBC).  Mr Kerneis met successfully the European Commission delegation, some European services companies’ members of the EBC, the Japan Services Network and Keidanren, the Japan-EU FTA negotiators of the Ministry of Economic and Trade and Industry (METI), and of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

It was an opportunity to highlight the importance of the services chapter in the forthcoming agreement.  The majors trading barriers that service companies encountered were highlighted (Japan Post and its discriminatory treatment in banking, insurance and express courier, Distribution services, Legal services, residency requirements, heavy regulatory burden, etc.).  The EBC Chairman, Mr. Duco Delgorge, strongly invited the European Services Forum to continue to work with EBC during the negotiations, so as to gather our strength and push the negotiators towards similar priorities and results.

EBC Annual White Paper is the European local industry voice that lists the trade barriers, dressed by the various working groups, including g many on the services sectors:

ESF Chairman participated to UNCTAD Global Services Forum – Beijing, 29 May 2013

The second UNCTAD Global Services Forum (GSF) took place in Beijing on 28 & 29 May. It gathered around 500 participants, including many ministers and trade officials from more than 50 countries, essentially from developing countries: see: 

ESF Chairman was invited to speak at the closing ceremony ministerial level summit (see programme and list of speakers), where he delivered a speech calling for more countries to join the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).

The GSF was organised in the overall framework of the second CIFTIS (China International Fair in Trade in Services), a major event in the Chinese capital, with more than 150 activities (ceremonies, summits, forums, business talks, comprehensive exhibition, and theme day’s activities) were held around the 12 sectors of trade in services of the GATS.  More than 2000 exhibitors and more than 30 000 registered merchants from more than 100 countries and regions around the world have attracted an accumulative total over 120 000 professional visitors in the fair (see website of
It was in this joint framework of “GSF-CIFTIS LEADERS SUMMIT” that took place in the Great Hall of the People that Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, pronounced its key note speech, explaining China priorities in trade in services for the next five years.

Launch of Business Alliance for TTIP

On 16th May, at the context of the 11th European Business SummitBUSINESSEUROPEEUROCHAMBRES, the European Services Forum, the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (UAPME), the Transatlantic Business Council (TBC), the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN), the American Chamber of Commerce to the EUAmChams in Europe and the US Chamber of Commerce launched the Business Alliance for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Members of the Alliance will work together to ensure the realization of a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment agreement that will boost the economies of both continents and worldwide.

Read the full press release here.

European Services Forum adopted a Position Paper on the Cross Border Data Flows

On 10 May 2013, ESF adopted his Position paper on the Cross Border Data Flows.  The fast growing innovation in information and communication technology (ICT) is clearly one of the most dynamic elements in the development of the world economy in the last decades.  The normal functioning of the digital economy requires the routine movement of large amounts of personal data, within the domestic economy, but also in this global world, across borders, including between the EU and third countries.

ESF and ESF Members are following closely the development of the proposal for a Regulation on the protection of individuals with regards to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation).  This Paper however only focusses on the international dimension of the digital economy and the how notably the trade policy can contribute to ensure common disciplines for a smooth cross border data flow in a globalised world.

ECIPE/BUSINESSEUROPE/ESF Workshop in Servicification – 25 April 2013

On 25 April 2013, ECIPE, Business Europe, and the European Services Forum (ESF) organised a workshop on servicification, or “why services trade matters to   EU manufacturing”.  Competitiveness of EU manufacturing is increasingly dependent on services. Logistics, maintenance, consulting, financing and data processing are integral part of any competitive offering in technology, machinery, processing and consumer businesses. Efficient services consumed by the manufacturing companies in their daily operations are also an integral part of their competitiveness. Services provided and consumed by EU manufacturing contribute to a significant share of their incomes. Services have transformed the way goods are traded while digitalisation has turned many goods into services – a concept we call servicification.  The speakers contributed to bring responses to the following questions: How does the market access for goods depend on openness on services? What are the policy implications of servicification, and which services barriers should be in focus? What could the new major FTAs deliver for EU manufacturing, especially in terms of services liberalisation?

You can find the full programme, the presentation of the speakers and the list of (80) participants by clicking on this link

ESF co-signed letter on Preferential Market Access in public procurement in India

The European Services Forum (ESF), together with BUSINESSEUROPE, DIGITALEUROPE  and the European Telecommunications Networks Operators Associations (ETNO) sent aJoint Letter on 20 December 2012 on India Preferential Market Access in public procurement to the prime minister of India, as well as to three other ministers dealing with this issue.  The signatories strongly urge the Indian Government to halt the implementation of the PMA Mandate for private sector procurements, specifically the October 2012 telecom notification. Applying PMA to private sector procurements would constitute an unprecedented interference in the private sector and calls into question India’s fundamental WTO commitments to not discriminate against foreign products.   A similar letter was also sent to Commissioner De Gucht, Kroes and Tajani and the relevant officials in the Commission.

ESF Chairman signed an US-EU industry joint letter to urge both sides governments to launch trade talks

The joint call is coming from prominent organisations from both side of the Atlantic, like AmchamEU, BRT, BUSINESSEUROPE, CSI, ESF, Eurochambres, TABD, US Chamber, etc. See the letter here

ESF-US CSI Joint Contribution to Public Consultation on EU-US Regulatory Cooperation on services

The European Services Forum (ESF) and the US Coalition of Services industries (CSI), representing the exporting and investing services companies of the EU and of the US, welcomed the joint consultation made by the European Commission and the US Government on this important issue and decided to undertake a thorough consultation among theirs members before responding to this consultation.  on 12 November 2012, the ESF/CSI adopted, for the first time a joint paper on bilateral issues, a Joint Response to the EU and US call for input on regulatory issues for possible future trade agreement. We believe that if the High Level Working Group wishes to create a real transatlantic services market, it must establish meaningful and outcome-driven regulatory cooperation in appropriate services sectors, involving not only regulators at EU and U.S. federal level, but also regulators at sub-federal level and EU Member states level, i.e. wherever the regulators are.

ESF Position on Plurilateral Negotiations on Services

ESF is pleased to see further progress in the on-going preliminary discussions in Geneva and calls for all parties concerned to ensure that the current momentum will not be lost in technicalities.  The resulting agreement should be ambitious, flexible, and inclusive, with the goal of attracting the largest number of participating countries as possible.  ESF has developed a Position Paper where it expresses the European services industry priorities in the forthcoming negotiations for a plurilateral services agreement and sent it to the relevant interlocutors on 12 November 2012.

ESF co-signed a joint industry Letter to support conclusion of the Eu-canada CETA negotiations

On 22 October 2012, ESF signed a joint letter with BUSINESSEUROPE, the Canadian Services Coalition (CSC), the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canada Europe Round Table (CERT), calling for the conclusion of the CETA negotiations, and listing the major prioroties for businesses in this trade deal.

More: Interview in “viEUws”  of Trade Commissioner De Gucht on CETA, the EU-Canada Trade Agreement

DG Trade web site on Canada, on trade statistics with Canada

ESF signed a Multi Associations letter calling for the launch of the EU-Japan Trade Negotiations

ESF joined many sector specific European trade associations to call the Trade Ministers of the Euroepan Union, who will gather in EU Forfeign Affairs Council on 29 November, to provide a mandate to the European Commisison to launch the trade negotiations with Japan towards a deep and comprehensive agreement. See Joint letter here.

ESF signed European business coalition letter calling for ratification of EU-Colombia and Peru FTA

A large coalition of European business associations wrote to the INTA Committee on 3 October 2012 urging the European Parliament to ratify the EU-Colombia and Perou trade agreement, arguing that the agreement will be beneficial to all parties and will be an additional tool to provide legal security to trade transactions and allow business to play its role in returning the European economies to growth. See letter here

Global Services Coalition Statement on International Services Agreement

On the occasion of the Global Services Summit that took place in Washington on 19 September 2012, ESF, together with ten other business services associations comprising the Global Services Coalition (GSC), welcomed the statement made by Governments participating to the work of the “Real Good Friends of Services” (RGFS) on 5th July, encouraged their concerted efforts in bringing services to the forefront of their trade policy agenda and called on those WTO members which had not yet participated in these preparatory meetings to join in as soon as possible in launching formal plurilateral negotiations in services by the end of this year. GSC Statement here

ESF Expresses Full Support of the European Services Industry for the Launch of Trade Negotiations with Japan

On the 10th July 2012, ESF sent a letter to Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht outlining the full support of the European Services Industry for the launch of trade negotiations with Japan.  ESF supports the launch of negotiations at the earliest appropriate time where trade and investment in services will constitute a prominent part of any concluded agreement.  ESF’s support stems from the fact that negotiations will be the most realistic approach to removing the types of problems faced by European services companies in Japan, notably concerning complexity and regulatory and transparency issues, in addition to more traditional trade barriers.  ESF also believes that bilateral trade negotiations are an excellent opportunity to increase access to the large Japanese Public Procurement market at central and sub-central level.

ESF Managing Director gives Plenary Speech at EU-Malaysia Trade and Investment Forum

On the 26 April 2012 the ESF Managing Director attended the annual EU-MCCI “EU-Malaysia Trade Forum” in Kuala Lumpur.  The theme was “Enhancing Cooperation: Innovation, Industry and Investment” and commenced with a plenary session on the services sector — generating investments in targeted growth areas.  The ESF Director gave the Plenary speech, just after the Opening Remarks of Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Malaysia, His Excellency Vincent Piket, and the Keynote address of the Secretary General (Trade) of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Datuk Dr. Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, who is also the Malaysian Chief Negotiator for the on-going EU Malaysia FTA.  The programme can be found here.

ESF Submits Contribution to the Public Consultation on  the EU-US High Level Working Group for Jobs and Growth

The European services sector sets out its interests and priorities in the EU-US High Level Working Group (HLWG) in its submission to the European Commission’s public consultation.  The HLWG will produce an interim report mid way through 2012 and final recommendation at the end of the year.

Global Services Coalition Issues Media Release

In its media statement the Global Services Coalition congratulated UNCTAD and its co-sponsors, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organisation (TAG-Org), for hosting a Global Services Forum as a pre-event under the auspices of UNCTAD XIII in Doha.  The Global Services Coalition in its statement also welcomed and applauded a new step for business in the Arab region with the establishment of the Arab Coalition of Service Industries.  The statement highlights the interest of the Global Services Coalition in working this new industry organisation.

ESF Signs Multi-Association Statement on Japan Post Reform

ESF signed a joint statement released on the 6th April 2012 outlining concerns regarding new legislation put forward by the government of Japan that will place Japanese consumers and businesses at a great disadvantage by ignoring the longstanding concerns raised by international industry about creating equivalent conditions of competition.

ESF Signs Multi-Association  Letter to Indian PM Concerning New Preferential Market Access Rules

ESF signed a multi-association letter sent to Prime Minister Singh of India on the 4th April 2012 expressing serious concerns with new Preferential Market Access (PMA) rules issued by the Indian Department of Information Technology.  The letter highlights an overall concern and urges the Government of India to rescind this PMA entirely and initiate a consultation process with the private sector and other stakeholders to more effectively address India’s security and economic concerns.

ESF Seminar Exploring a Plurilateral Agreement in Services

On the 6th March 2012, ESF and ECIPE held a seminar aimed at exploring the potential of a plurilateral agreement in services.  The seminar drew in participants from all quarters with an interest in international services trade.  The discussion was lively and the overall feeling was positive yet mindful.  The panel included: Michael Punke, Deputy USTR, US Ambassador at the WTO; Hosuk Lee Makiyama, Co-Director, ECIPE; Vital Moreira, Chairman of the International Trade Committee of the  European Parliament; David Plunkett, Ambassador of Canada to the EU; Tim Yeend, Australian Ambassador to the WTO; Sören Kelstrup, Chair of the EU Trade Policy Committee under the Danish Presidency of the EU; Marc Vanheukelen, Chief of Staff of EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht; Robert Vastine, President US Coalition of the Service Industries; Pascal Kerneis, Managing Director ESF; Introduction from Jonathan Peel, EESC Member Employers Group; Conclusions from John Cooke, Chairman, LOTIS Committee TheCityUK; and Moderated by Edward Bowles, ESF Policy Committee Chairman, Regional Head of Public Affairs, EMEA and Americas Standard Chartered Bank.  See Programme.

Letter sent to EU Chief Negotiator for India FTA concerning the importance of services commitments

ESF sent a letter to Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, the EU’s chief negotiator in the India trade talks reiterating the need to secure commitments for the services sector during the crucial lead up to the Summit in February.  The letter was sent on the 5 December 2011 and is available here.

ESF signs second joint industry communication on Trade Finance and Basel III

ESF signed a joint industry communication on Trade Finance and the Basel Framework issued on 1 December 2011.  The communication outlines support for policies that aim to strengthen the resilience of the financial services sector, as promulgated by the G-20, but restates continued concern about the unintended consequences of the regulatory treatment of trade finance instruments under the Basel framework, which does not reflect the risk profile of trade finance assets, nor does it take into account the adverse effects of the proposed changes on global trade and growth in the real economy. Available here: Part 1Part 2.

ESF signs joint letter on draft Intra-Corporate Transfers Directive

ESF signed a joint letter sent on the 29 November 2011 on Intra-Corporate Transfers to Members of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs at the European Parliament.  The letter is concerned with the draft Intra-Corporate Transferee Directive and the Committee vote on December 5th stressing the need to support the original objectives of the directive. Available here.

Letters sent by ESF to Commissioners of Trade, Home Affairs and the Digital Agenda on need for new international agreements safeguarding Cross-Border Data Flows

The Global Services Coalition (GSC) and Financial Leaders Working Group (FLWG), both of which ESF is a member of, released a Statement on the 21st November calling for new International Agreements to safeguard the provision of Cross-Border Data Flows.  The European Services Forum sent this statement with covering letters to the Commissioners in charge of Trade, Home Affairs and the Digital Agenda, further highlighting the importance of Cross-Border Data Flows for international trade in services.  See Statement here and letter here.

ESF sends letter of support for swift approval of the EU’s trade agreements with Colombia, Peru and Central America in the European Parliament

On the 21st of November 2011, ESF sent a letter to the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) Chairman, Vital Moreira, and the competent rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs outlining the European services industry’s desire to see a quick approval for the highly ambitious trade agreements, which will strongly benefit all countries during the current difficult global economic climate.  See letter here.

ESF outlines European services industries’ priorities in Trade Agreement negotiation with Malaysia

On the 9th of November 2011, the ESF Policy Committee Chairman sent a letter in accompaniment to the ESF position paper on Malaysia to DG Trade Director-General Jean Luc Demarty. The letter and paper sets out the European Services industry’s priorities in the negotiations with Malaysia for a Free Trade Agreement. Letter and position paper can be found here.

Joint ESF and BUSINESSEUROPE letter sent to Commission concerning impact of the Capital Requirements Directive 4 (CRD IV) on trade and export finance

On the 24th of October 2011, ESF and BUSINESSEUROPE sent a letter to Commissioner Barnier, Commissioner De Gucht and Vice-President Tajani expressing strong concern regarding the proposed regulation on capital requirements for banks due to the negative impact it will have on trade and export finance.  Trade finance, which is essentially a means of payment and a guarantee mechanism for the movement of goods and services, has historically maintained a low risk profile.  If adopted and implemented as currently defined, the new capital and liquidity requirements of CRD IV will seriously reduce the availability of short term trade and export finance.  The restriction of trade finance products for European businesses will ultimately threaten the recovery of the global economy, since European banks are providing a very large share of the world’s needs in financing international trade. Letter here.

Letter sent to Commissioner De Gucht outlining the European services industry’s views on EU Investment Policy towards China

On the 3rd of October 2011, the European Services Forum sent a letter to Trade Commissioner De Gucht conveying its assessment and concerns regarding the EU’s investment policy towards China.  This letter was sent as a follow-up to the ESF secretariats response to the Commission’s consultation process on this topic in July.  China undoubtedly holds much potential that is yet to be realised and given the importance of investment in establishing services suppliers in new markets the European Services Forum encourages, in principle, efforts to review the investment landscape and implement well-considered strategies to ensure that China is an open, secure and welcoming market for European investments.  However, the approach adopted must be based on practical considerations of commercial interests, existing Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), time scales, the need to maintain the highest levels of protection, a sound dispute resolution mechanism and the practicalities of negotiating pre-establishment market access.  As such, future investment policy towards China must build on a comprehensive assessment.

ESF sends letter to Joint Secretary Prasad in response to the Indian Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion’s discussion paper on equity caps

On Friday 15 July 2011, the European Services Forum submitted a letter to Joint Secretary Prasad in response to the Indian Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion’s discussion paper: ‘FDI Policy Rationale and Relevance of Caps’.  The letter highlights the close relationship between FDI and the services sector and draws attention more generally to the importance of FDI and an open transparent policy framework to a healthy economy.  The letter goes on to address the specific questions raised by the discussion paper with a general focus on the detrimental effects of equity caps and the positive results that can be achieved sectorally through non-discriminatory regulatory frameworks that fairly treat foreign companies like all domestic companies.  Within this context the letter also draws attention to freedoms enjoyed by Indian companies within the EU market.

ESF endorses joint association letter on Proposal for Directive on Intra-Corporate Transferees

The European Services Forum has always supported better mobility for highly skilled service providers with the rationale that it is important element in driving European economic activity. The adoption of the Proposal for a Directive on conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer (COM (2010) 378 final of 13 July 2010) has therefore been actively supported by ESF at each European level. In further support of this important issue the ESF has endorsed a joint business association letter (22 June 2011) addressed to the European Parliament supporting the proposal for a directive on Intra-Corporate Transferees. The letter is available here.

ESF endorses paper on Reinvigorating Open Trade in Financial Services

Against the backdrop of global work on economic recovery and regulatory reform it has become important to reinvigorate efforts to open trade in financial services.  The role of financial services as an essential driver of increased trade and investment flows underpins the European Services Forum’s endorsement of the Reinvigorating Open Trade in Financial Services paper, which highlights the critical role vibrant financial markets play for both companies and individuals and the importance of a transparent and sound regulatory environment. The paper’s message and content are pertinent to all international trade negotiations.

European Services Industry Priorities on EU-Mercosur FTA

The European Services Forum has followed-up on its June 14th 2010 letter to Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, where it vocalised the services industry’s support for the renewed EU-Mercosur trade negotiations, with a letter and detailed position paper outlining the specific priorities of the European services industry (April 8 2011 Letter and Position Paper).  The letter reiterates the importance of placing services at the top of the negotiating list and of achieving progress in Public Procurement access and treatment, investment security, and also of putting agricultural interests into perspective.  The position paper provides further details of the horizontal and sector specific issues that need to be addressed in this trade agreement if it is to contribute ambitiously towards development in Latin America and growth and employment creation within the EU.

European Services industry calls EU and India leaders to boost EU-India FTA

On the eve of the EU-India Summit in Brussels on 10 December, the European Services Forum calls on the leaders of both sides to give a strong signal to the Free Trade Agreement negotiators demonstrating emphatically that their objective is market-openness and that their goal is an ambitious agreement that will deliver material opportunities to the economies and citizens of both parties.  The resultant FTA would spur an advantageous expansion in global trade when it is vitally necessary to so do.  It would give European businesses access to a huge potential market with a strong and steady growth rate  (see Press Release).  The European Services Forum sent to EU Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht a detailed analysis of the priorities of the industry on the horizontal front, as well as in the various services sectors, sector by sector (see letter and detailed Position Paper).

European services industry voices its opinion on European Audit policy Green Paper

On the 7 December 2010 the European Services Forum’s Policy Committee Chairman, Richard O’Toole, sent a letter to the Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, regarding the European Commission’s Green Paper – Audit Policy: Lessons from the Crisis.  The letter supports the need for a framework embodied in the EU’s 8th Directive on Statutory Audit, but also details the concerns of the services industry, particularly regarding the installation of measures that might impose an artificial restriction on trade, and therefore distort the market and further limit choice for companies.  See the letter here.

ESF contribution to Commission’s EU-Japan Public Consultation

At the 19th Japan-EU Summit of 28 April 2010, the EU and Japan decided to establish a joint High Level Group (HLG) to identify options for strengthening all aspects of Japan-EU relations, including trade and economic aspects.  The Commission subsequently launched a public consultation on the future of EU-Japan trade and economic relations.  The European Services Forum, as a key stakeholder, provided feedback to this consultation on 5 November 2010 outlining the opinion of the European services industry.  See contribution here.

Global Services Summit call to G20 leaders

The Global Services Summit that took place in Washington on 22 September 2010 concluded with a call for the G20 and APEC Leaders to use their upcoming meetings to put services trade negotiations front and center in the global trade agenda (see Final Communiqué).  The Summit urged the G20 to engage vigorously on services and make a determined effort to engage in services market access negotiations, before leaders convene in Seoul in November.

At the occasion of the 2nd Global Services Summit in Washington, the Global Services Coalition released a statement on the benefits of services liberalisation for the economic development of the developing and emerging countries.

Hon. Craig Emerson, new Australia Minister of Trade, also took the Services Summit as an opportunit to announced the results of a research that quatified the bebefits of the trade in services reform.  The Study finds that reform could led to an annual gain of up to US$ 115  Billion per year over 2011-2025 for developed countries and US$ 235 Billion for developing countries. More>> Study on “Quantifying the benefits of services trade liberalisation”

ESF Response to DG Trade Public Consultation on Future Trade Policy

ESF Response to DG Trade Public Consultation on future trade policy called the Commission for always keeping trade in services and investment in the top priority of the new EU Trade Policy and urged the EU for new efforts in concluding the DDA round, encouraged the negotiatros to pursue the bilateral trade agenda initiated by the “Global Europe” Strategy in 2006 and to further focus on the emerging markets.  For a copy of the ESF Response, click here.

EU & US Business Groups Calls for Cooperation, Better Doha Offers

In a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, several European and U.S. business groups, including the European Services Forum, urged both the United States and the European Union to press for advanced developing countries, particularly Brazil, China, and India, to participate in the Doha Round sectoral negotiations and to provide substantial and meaningful improvements in market access in services.  For a copy of the letter, click here.

European Services Industry Priorities on EU-Singapore FTA

“The European Services Forum is strongly in favour of concluding a free trade agreement with Singapore, which can serve as an ambitious benchmark for future agreements in the region.”  That was the essence of the message sent by ESF Chairman Christoffer Taxell on 12 July 2010 to EC Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, on the European Services Industry Priorities on EU-Singapore FTA negotiations.

GSC support for the G20 leaders’ commitment in the Toronto Summit Declaration to conclude DDA

On 5th July 2010, the Global Services Coalition expressed their appreciation to the G20 leaders’ support for bringing the WTO Doha Round to a balanced and ambitious conclusion.  However, the global services industry representatives also expressend their concerns that no date was set for the conclusion of the Round, and urged the G20 and WTO members to work vigorously to ensure that it be completed as soon as possible.

European Services Industry views on the EU new investment policy

The European Services Forul sent today (25 June 2010) its views on the forthcoming new investment policy of the European Union, to EU Commissioner for Trade, Mr. Karel De Gucht, who is meant to announce the new policy in the coming days. The European Services Forum notes that the Lisbon Treaty brought foreign direct investment (FDI) into the ambit of the EU’s Common Commercial Policy and notes the valuable opportunity that this development provides for the European Union to rationalise the policy of the Union and its member-states on investment questions, and to bring greater weight and comprehensiveness to EU FDI policy towards the rest of the world.  ESF draws the attention on the fact that the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is an investment agreement as well as a trade agreement.  However GATS only provides pre-establishment protection.  Our companies also need post-establishment protection for their investments against unfair expropriation or nationalisation.  In this context, ESF strongly welcomes the adoption of a new European Union Investment Policy that will open the way for negotiations of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) at EU level, bringing uniform benefits to services businesses across all European countries.

ESF Director made a testimony at the European Parliament Hearing on EU-Korea FTA

The International Trade Committee (INTA) of the European Parliament held a hearing on the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and South Korea, on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 (see Programme and Poster).  The Director of the European Services Forum, Mr. Pascal Kerneis, was one of the speaker at the hearing.  In his presentation,  he presented the importance of trade in services and investment with Korea, the progress made in the FTA and the potential gains for the European services sectors.  He strongly reitereated the support of the European service industries for the ratification of the agreement and its early provisional implementation.

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

ESF Chairman, Christoffer Taxell, sent on 14th June a letter to European Commissioner for Trade, Mr. Karel De Gucht, supporting the resuming of the EU-MERCOSUR Trade negotiations.  The letter is reminding the overwhelming importance of services and manufacturing in the economies of both regions, which should therefore drive the negotiations  instead of the talks on agriculture that seems to capture too much attention.  The European services industry is calling for an ambitious agreement, with significant progress made in the services commitments by the EU’s trading partners, and for a short negotiating time table.  Other EU Institutions have received a similar letter.

Global Services Industries call on G20 Leaders to continue the fight against protectionism and conclude the WTO Doha Round

The Global Services Coalition issued a letter to G-20 leaders on 10 June 2010, calling on them to continue to resist enacting protectionist measures, and to conclude the Doha Round.  The G-20 is scheduled to meet on June 26-27 in Toronto.

Seminar on implications of the EU Services Directive on international trade

The Australian Mission to the European Union organised a seminar 31 March 2010 in partnership with the European Services Forum.  The seminar entitled “Growing Services Trade’ EU Services Directive – Implications for EU’s trading partners” (see programmegathered around 80 participants representing business community and diplomatic missions.  The presentation by ESF Director showed the importance of the intra-EU trade in services and the attactiveness of the European Union for the foreign investors.  The implementation of the services directive should even further strengthen this trend by improving the competitiveness of the EU internal market.

Services Industries Priorities on EU-Canada CETA

ESF sent  a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht on the European Services Industries Priorities for the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement – CETA.  The Annex analyses the horizontal and sector specific priorities of the various services sectors for these important trade negotiations.

European Services industry urges to swiftly conclude trade negotiations with Andean and Central American countries

European Services Forum issued a Press Statement at the occasion of the on-going trade negotiations rounds between the European Union and Colombia & Peru on one side, and with the EU and Central American Countries on the other side.

ESF organised yesterday, 23rd February, an informal cocktail in the framework of the painting exhibition on “Cubism” at the Musée d’Ixelles in Brussels.  The show is sponsored by Telefónica, the largest European investor in the region. The gathering was an excellent opportunity for the business community to express to the negotiators their support for the agreement.  ESF is following with great interest these on-going negotiations. and hopes that this will be the last round with Colombia and Peru, so that the initialing of the agreements can take place at the European Union- Latin America & Caribbean Countries Summit in Madrid next May.

New version of ESF web site released on 13 January 2010

The New ESF web site includes a new section on Bilateral Negotiations, with documents on services related issues on most concluded free trade agreements by the EU which do content commitments on services, as well as on the numerous on-going bilateral and regional trade negotiations. A “Facts & Figures” section has been added, that contains statistics on trade in services.   The “interesting links” section has been extended.  Finally a restricted “Members Area” has been inserted.  Comments are welcomed.  Please refresh your “favorites” if need be.

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