On November 7, 2019 the 11th Annual Global Services Summit convened in the very heart of the nation’s capital. This landmark event has been organized by the Coalition of Services Industries in conjunction with the World Trade Center in Washington, DC. CSI is a policy advocacy association that works on behalf of the U.S. based global services industries in the areas of trade and investment services. As to the World Trade Center, DC, this dynamic organization it is an essential part of a global network of international and world trade centers in over 90 nations around the world.
The Summit brought together over 300 senior trade officials, policy makers, and business leaders from around the world to discuss timely international trade issues, with a specific focus on services. As the Summit Organizers were quick to point out, cross-border services are growing at a much faster rate than goods trade, and new technologies and digitally enabled services are creating tremendous opportunities for more inclusive trade. The main theme of the event was Unleashing the Benefits of Services and Digital Trade. The participants heard from leading policymakers and corporate decision makers on key trends in the services landscape, on how they can better harness the benefits, including broader access to economic opportunity, that services innovation makes possible.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Forum’s attendees strived to find answers to such seminal questions as: Is the global trading system in sync with this evolution? Are we building the right regional and bilateral trade agreements that will allow us to harness the benefits and greater inclusion that services and digital services can bring? Are we ready to handle the impact on domestic and global workforces?
The bursting with urgency agenda included a multitude of panels. For example, participants of the session Threats to the E-Commerce Moratorium addressed the challenging issues of electronic commerce. Commonly known as e-commerce, it involves digital transfer of goods and services across borders. This new area of international trade is presently undergoing a process of exponential development, and one of the most important issues is the problem of tariffs on international electronic transmissions.
As it is widely known, created in 1995 World Trade Organization (WTO) regulates the international trade between nations. Since 1998, WTO Members have applied a moratorium against tariffs on international electronic transmissions (commonly referred to as the WTO ‘E-Commerce’ Moratorium). Some WTO Members have recently debated whether the moratorium remains in their economic interest, given the potential revenues that might be generated by imposing tariffs on electronic transmissions. These developments have a potential to open a proverbial Pandora’s Box of troubles. For instance, recent studies show, that if countries would have ceased to uphold the moratorium and levied import duties on digital goods and services, they could suffer negative economic consequences in the form of higher prices and reduced consumption, which would in turn slow GDP growth and shrink tax revenues. (Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Badri Narayanan, 2019).
Moving right along, attendees of the Congressional Panel: Trade Views from Capitol Hill discussed various conundrums of trade regulation. Presently, one of the important topics is the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. While having been signed, USMCA is still awaiting ratification by each of the participating country's legislatures.
The Summit took place within hospitable and beautiful confines of the World Trade Center Washington, DC (Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center). One of the preeminent event spaces in the Building is the 10-stories high Atrium, which features a colossal cone-shaped skylight. The enormous venue not only housed multiple landmark events, but it was shown in many popular movies, including Stephen Spielberg’s “Minority Report.” Besides being the Building’s “center stage,” the Atrium harbors Berlin Wall Exhibit, Ronald Reagan Medallions, and Ronald Reagan Memorial Exhibit, as well as the award-winning neon-and-glass sculpture “Route Zenith” by a prominent American sculptor Keith Sonnier.