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
In my view, the essential core message that should be the focus of each Opinion is as
Draft Opinion A -- It is most important for the WTPF to make clear the following
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
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
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.
Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Japan