As you are aware the Doha ministerial meeting of the WTO mandated the launch of the highly complex Request-Offer phase of GATS negotiations. The timelines established for new commitments in over 160 services sector (in which tourism is a prominent section ) are
The submission of initial requests – June 30, 2002
Initial offers – March 31, 2003
Deadline for negotiations to end January 1, 2005.
We are aware that India has received requests from 17 trading partners since June 30 2002. To date none of these requests have been made publicly available to facilitate an informed debate.
On 25 February 2003 documents containing requests by the European Union to 109 countries were leaked to the Polaris Institute in Canada who coordinated their release to GATS activists around the world. These documents are available at www.polarisinstitute.org
EQUATIONS has analysed the tourism section of the request to India and our response (in the form of an open letter to the Prime Minister of India) is appended below. It should be noted that this analysis does not provide a comprehensive picture of the implications of this request. Anyone would agree that more time is required to analyse this complex document. We have also included issues that we view as critical in terms of India’s trade policy on services.
We urge you as individuals and groups working on tourism issues to examine these documents and write to your respective governments to provide the time and space for an informed debate before committing the tourism sector to the binding rules of the GATS
OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA ON GATS NEGOTIATIONS.
February 26, 2003.
Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee,
Prime Minister of India,
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi – 110 011.