SUGGESTED DISCUSSION OUTLINE
PART I - INTRODUCTION
1. HOW DOES THE EVOLVING WORLD TRADE REGIME IMPACT TELECOMMUNICATIONS?
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
- What is the relationship between the WTO process and the broader direction
of national telecom policy?
- Is the more global orientation of the industry making an effective
multilateral regime of greater importance?
- Are any fundamental challenges posed to the telecom regulator by deeming
international telecommunications services to be trade?
2. WTO's UNIQUE FEATURES
a) What is the language of trade? Its processes and procedures?
- Most Favoured Nation (MFN) principle.
- Schedules of commitments on market access and national treatment.
b) Provisions in the Marrakech Agreement concerning developing countries.
c) What is Scope of the Dispute Settlement Undertaking (DSU)?
- How Does it Work?
- What Is the Likely Practical Impact?
- On telecom regulators?
- On the private sector?
3. VARIOUS PLAYERS
- Who are the various players, public and private? In developed and developing
countries? how are monopolies and former monopolies affected? how are new
4. BROAD EFFECTS ON TELECOM INDUSTRY
- What will be the effect of the WTO regime on the telecom industry as
a whole; taking account of such current trends as increasing globalization,
commercial alliances and foreign investment?
PART II - WTO'S PRACTICAL IMPACT ON WHAT
REGULATORS DO AND
HOW THEY DO IT
A. 1. Some
- How might the world trade regime unfold with respect to telecommunications?
What strategies are available to regulators in this context?
- What benefits flow to those participating in a multilateral agreement?
Where does that leave those who do not join?
- How can WTO help the telecom regulator achieve its telecom policy goals:
modernizing the PTT, reforming the regulatory regime, encouraging foreign
investment and infrastructure growth?
2. What are "Baseline" Obligations?
- What are the "baseline obligations" of WTO member states
flowing from GATS and the Telecommunications Annex, if a WTO member has
not or will not schedule a commitment on basic telecom?
3. What Further Obligations Exist Today?
- GATS provisions that only have a significant impact when member states
have made specific scheduling commitments.
- The existing commitments on telecoms.
4. NGBT: What benefits may be expected from liberalizing basic telecoms
in the NGBT context? Do all players "gain"? If not, who might
lose and why?
5. What kinds of obligations might arise from
the NGBT process?
- Market access.
- National treatment.
- "Additional commitments": e.g. on interconnection policies
or regulatory processes.
B. WTO Impact on National Telecommunication Regimes:
How Does a Regulator Behave in the Light of the WTO Commitments? Transparency
1. What is the Transparency Obligation?
a) .Baseline obligations of GATS &
....Additional obligations of scheduled
commitments and NGBT process.
b) What specific measures must be taken?
- access to information;
- right to comment;
- other measures?
2. What other institutional/procedural requirements?
- For example, separation of regulatory and operational functions?
C. WTO Impact on National Telecommunications Regulatory
Regimes: How Does a Regulator Behave in the Light of the WTO Commitments?
1. Market Access Commitments
a) Operation: How must a regulator treat foreign carriers seeking
market access to operate in its territory with respect to:
- Reciprocity provisions for market access?
- Transparency of regulatory process?
- Pricing policies?
- How does this differ from what regulators have done in the past?
b) Investment: How must a regulator treat foreign investors in
its domestic communications industry?
- For example, if a PTT is privatized, does GATS require foreign ownership
in the privatized entity?
- How do any restrictions on foreign investment in communications providers
relate to market access?
a) How does WTO regime change what regulators license?
- Based on general provisions of the GATS?
- Based on existing Schedules?
- Based on new commitments that may emerge from the NGBT negotiations?
- Applicable to what types of services?
b) Is there a requirement or presumption in favour of open entry in
issuing licenses? (For example, can a regulator turn down a third entrant
(domestic or foreign) if it considers that the market could be satisfied
by the first two licensees?)
c) In what other ways is a regulator's discretion in issuing licenses
3. Interconnection, and accounting rates/termination charges
How might the WTO regime change regulator's decisions concerning interconnection?
- What is the baseline GATS and Annex obligation?
- What further additional obligations may arise?
- What will be the impact of NGBT negotiations on existing accounting
4. Competition Safeguards
- How does WTO regime apply to national competition policy?
- For example, what measures should be taken to prevent dominant carriers
or monopoly service providers from abusing its market power?
5. Frequency Spectrum
6. Other issues
PART III - IMPACT ON DEVELOPING WORLD
- Is the WTO foray into telecommunications only a developed country game?
- What are the benefits to the developing world?
- Are there special considerations that can be identified to help developing
countries evaluate where their interests lie in the new WTO regime?
- Does the WTO allow a phased introduction for the less developed and
how might this be achieved?
PART IV- WHO/ITU INTERFACE
- While this Discussion Outline has not directly focused on the WTO/ITU
interface, questions inevitably arise concerning such matters as:
- To what extent will tariff issues currently considered by the ITU's
study groups become trade issues subject to WTO?
- Are spectrum allocation processes at the supra-national level also
likely to become trade access issues?
- Similarly, as standards-setting can be used to develop or perpetuate
trading blocs, will the ITU need to alter its standardization procedures?
If so, in what way?
- A modern key feature of the ITU is the extensive participation of the
private sector; would such type of participation be of value to the WTO
in its work on trade/telecom matters?