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CSLA Bulletin – August 2019

08/12/2019

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The Government of Canada is seeking the views of Canadian professional associations in the context of two potential distinct Canadian initiatives. World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) discussions on market access for professional services; and The Professional Services Working Group enacted by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE NATIONAL (CSLA) RESPONSE TO THESE INITIATIVES, PLEASE CONTACT MICHELLE LEGAULT AT executive-director@csla-aapc.ca BY AUGUST 15TH, 2019.
 
Information on the Consultations
 
Consultation 1: WTO GATS Market Access Discussions

The Government of Canada is interested in receiving views from Canadian associations involved in the area of Professional Services, in order to better understand barriers and challenges faced by the industry while doing, or seeking to do, business abroad. 

Since 1995, Canada has been participating in WTO GATS negotiations in order to promote better market access for Canadian companies in other WTO markets. However, the Doha Round, the latest round of trade negotiations among the WTO Membership, is currently at an impasse and some WTO Members, including Canada, are exploring various ways to re-ignite the discussions on market access in several sectors, including the Professional Services sector.

The Professional Services sector constitutes an important priority for Canada, as we are one of the top exporters globally. While Canada’s firms are already active around the world, the sector has further potential to grow as the vast majority of services firms are SMEs, and a stable and predictable global trade environment is necessary for them to pursue new markets.

While extensive consultations were undertaken when the Doha Round was launched in the early 2000s, a significant period of time has elapsed since then and interests/issues may have evolved. In this context, our team is now consulting Canadian stakeholders in order to better understand the opportunities and challenges currently faced by your industry. For that reason, we would welcome your views on issues your members are facing, such as:

Any barriers or experiences faced by the Professional services industry, including: Identification of barriers to the temporary entry and stay of business persons faced by Canadian service providers in foreign countries, such as impediments to entering or working in a country on a temporary basis, including licensing, certification, work permit and other work authorization requirements. Identification of investment barriers faced by Canadian service providers in foreign countries, including restrictions imposed on foreign ownership or entry to market, questions of transparency of regulation, performance requirements (e.g. local content requirements, use of local labour and services), and any other impediments/barriers. Experiences regarding barriers to services provided electronically by Canadian service providers, such as licensing or residency requirements. Other barriers (e.g. availability and transparency of information) when selling or attempting to sell services in other countries.  Consultation 2: CPTPP Professional Services Working Group Discussions

The CPTPP entered into force in December 2018 and under this Agreement Parties established a Professional Services Working Group to facilitate further collaboration on issues such as the recognition of qualifications, licensing or registration. I have attached a copy of the CPTPP Professional Services Annex, for your reference.

A meeting of the Professional Services Working Group could take place as early as fall 2019. This meeting would present an opportunity for Canada to propose ideas and discuss potential partnerships regarding professional services trade beyond the bound obligations of the CPTPP. For example, one idea could be a non-binding guidelines document to facilitate the drafting of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) by regulatory authorities, similar to those that were included in the recent Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) outcome.

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