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Secretary General's Report - World Telecommunication Policy Forum '98


Comment by Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), Japan

Dear Sir/Madam,

World Telecommunication Policy Forum: Emphasizing the Core Message

Despite the shortage of time available at the last meeting of the Informal Group of Experts, it produced a very worthwhile result in preparation for the WTPF. I sincerely appreciate the excellent work of those who prepared Draft Opinions A, B and C for consideration by the Forum.

Having reviewed the text of the Opinions, I am delighted to say that Japan is almost entirely happy with their content. In particular, we believe that the core message of each Opinion is extremely important and should be conveyed very clearly. In order to do so, I feel that the Opinions should be made as concise as possible, avoiding duplication as well as technical details which could mostly be covered in the Secretary-General's Report. I firmly believe that this would make best use of the WTPF as a valuable meeting of high-level participants aimed at creating a consensus to solve important issues of global concern.

In my view, the essential core message that should be the focus of each Opinion is as follows:


Draft Opinion A -- It is most important for the WTPF to make clear the following points:

1. That increased trade in telecommunications, within a transparent and predictable regulatory framework, can greatly benefit the development of telecommunications and economies as a whole.

2. Therefore, the WTPF encourages ITU Member States which are WTO members but have not yet made commitments to the WTO Reference Paper, to consider applying the principles contained in that Paper.


Draft Opinion B -- Having declared the merits of liberalization of the telecommunications sector in Draft Opinion A, it is essential that Draft Opinion B should focus on:

1. Stating that the WTPF recognizes the huge concerns of developing countries regarding the potentially negative impact of liberalization, especially regarding the loss of revenue that is likely to result from reform of accounting rates. The Opinion should also clearly recognize that it is a tremendous burden for such countries to apply the principles of the WTO Reference Paper to create new, independent regulatory bodies and introduce competition.

2. Emphasizing that the ITU is the only body ideally placed to help developing countries through the transition to liberalized telecommunication markets.

3. Inviting the ITU Council to take account of the concerns of developing countries and the general impact of the WTO basic telecommunications agreement when drafting the Strategic Plan of the ITU.

4. Inviting the ITU Secretary-General and the Sectors of the Union to make every necessary effort to assist developing countries to make the transition to a fully competitive regime in telecommunications trade.


Draft Opinion C -- I believe that this Opinion should include the following elements to express its core message:

1. A statement of the urgent need to accelerate the work of SG3 on the reform of tariff and accounting systems for international telecommunications.

2. Encouragement of ITU Member States to endorse the recent SG3 draft revised recommendation D.140 on transitional arrangements to cost-orented mechanisms, including the concrete target of less than 1 SDR per minute for accounting rates to be introduced by the end of 1998.

3. A request for those concerned, in particular the Secretary-General of the ITU and the Director of the TSB, to place higher priority on SG3 activities on the issue of tariff and accounting rate reform, and to allocate resources accordingly so that SG3, and any groups under its control, can meet as many times as necessary to finalize future target recommendations before the end of this year.

4. I do not oppose the establishment of an inter-sessional group to serve the work of SG3. However, I believe that it would be best for details of its proposed establishment to be included in the Secretary-General's Report, rather than in Draft Opinion C which, like the other Draft Opinions, should be a statement of important general principles.


The Draft Opinions will form the essential part of the output of the WTPF, and I hope that we will be able to use them to deliver a clear and simple message on issues which are so vital to the future of international trade in telecommunications. In that way, the world is much more likely to listen to our message, and to understand its importance. Like you, I very much want the WTPF to succeed in achieving a high-level consensus on these matters, and I am greatly looking forward to working with you at the Forum.

Yours sincerely,

Yoshio Utsumi

Deputy Minister

Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Japan




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