Executive summary

This report reviews one proposed major treaty action: the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation (JI-SDR). The JI-SDR commits participating Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to certain practices and procedures with regard to the authorisation of service providers in their territories.
The JI-SDR is set out in two key documents:
Reference Paper on Services Domestic Regulation (Reference Paper), which details the specific rules (called ‘disciplines’) in the JI-SDR
Australia’s amended General Agreement on Trade in Services Schedule through which it binds itself to the JI-SDR disciplines.
The rationale for the JI-SDR is that simple, transparent, fair and user-friendly global rules facilitate trade in services. Because Australia has been convinced of that logic for some time, the substance of the JI-SDR commitments is already captured by existing Australian domestic regulatory practice.
The JI-SDR primarily deals with processes that must be followed in order to obtain authorisation to supply a service. The substantial requirements of regulations are not prescribed. Provisions relate to transparency in fees and authorisation processes, efficient processing of applications, evaluation based on clear and objective criteria, reasonable access to examinations where required, and acceptance of electronic documents. Some provisions are ‘soft’ obligations, that is, Members are to encourage certain things, or undertake certain activities where practicable. While Members can choose to opt out of the requirement that measures do not discriminate between men and women; this provision nevertheless represents the first time such a requirement has been specified in this kind of agreement.
The nature of Joint Statement Initiatives (JSIs), of which the JI-SDR is one, has been a matter of debate and concern among some Members of the WTO, and the Committee examined some of the contending views as to the status of JSIs.
More broadly, JSIs are in part a response to the rule-negotiation impasse at the WTO and are supported by the Director-General of the WTO as a way to move beyond current negotiating deadlocks.
While there are arguments that JSIs could undermine the centrality of multilateral rule-making and the WTO, the Committee is of the view that on balance the JSI process is likely to reinforce the importance of the WTO and create momentum in rule-making.
The Committee supports the JI-SDR and recommends binding treaty action be taken.
The report also contains the Committee’s examination of one minor treaty action: the 2022 Amendment to Annexes I and II of the International Convention against Doping in Sport. The Committee agreed that binding treaty action be taken in relation to this minor treaty action.

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