Think Piece

Pushing the Renewable Energy Agenda Forward: Some Select Lessons from the GATS

December 2013
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World Trade Organization Members’ understanding of what comprises a Sustainable Energy Services sector needs to be enhanced, whether through a new Trade in Services Agreement or through negotiations initiated under the WTO. While each member can nominate and inscribe services sectors or activities in its schedule of commitments according to its own, unilateral determination and description, it will be useful to have guidance provided through a negotiating proposal that defines or describes such services from one of the Members or group of Members. There is precedent in a number of General Agreement on Trade in Services Annexes and an Understanding specific to certain services sectors which provide such definitions. Further, these agreements also provide certain concepts and elements which can be usefully analyzed and, where appropriate, adapted into the context of Sustainable Energy Services. These concepts and elements may relate to, among others, the need for developing disciplines on domestic regulation as applied to the Sustainable Energy Services sector; the necessity of addressing inter-connectivity or inter-operability issues which another sector may have had to similarly confront in the past; or the imperative to resolve growth and financing issues peculiar to the Sustainable Energy Services sector. Provisions in other GATS agreements, or even other trade agreements, could also provide a wealth of elements and ideas that may well be worth surveying, analyzing, and adapting into the Sustainable Energy Services sector. The paper represents a simple first attempt at providing a snapshot of what may be possible.

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