Access to the ICT services market: comparative analysis of the factors of the negotiating position of the Republic of Belarus within the WTO

Regional and branch economy

The intensive growth of the ICT services market, the high potential of the ICT industry, its importance for the competitiveness and innovative development of the national economy are important reasons for agreeing the most favorable conditions for access to the ICT services market. The aim of the study is to identify factors to justify the negotiating position of the Republic of Belarus on access to the ICT services market within the GATS/WTO. Author has studied OECD’s brief sector notes about services trade restrictiveness index (STRI) and the schedules of specific commitments of the EU, Canada, the USA and Ukraine. These states are in the Working Party on Belarus’ Accession to the WTO and they are still negotiating access to the services market. The comparative analysis concerned three sectors of the ICT market: computer, telecommunications, audiovisual. Access to the computer services market is the most open. The main measures of limitations on market access are restrictions to movement of people. Canada, the USA, Ukraine open the market as much as possible, limiting presence of natural persons through their horizontal commitments. Eight EU’s countries have additional requirements for some specialties. Barriers to competition are the main measures to restrict access to the telecommunications market. Canada, the USA, the EU strictly regulate access to the market of basic services through limitations of commercial presence. The Ukrainian market is open as much as possible. Canada, the USA and Ukraine fully open their markets to enhanced or value-added services. The EU makes the same commitments regardless of the type of service. Access to the audiovisual services market is most restricted. The main measures are restrictions of foreign entry. The EU, Canada, Ukraine do not undertake commitments to open their markets. The United States strictly regulates access to the market for radio and television broadcasting services. Sector and country recommendations should be the basis for the position of the Republic of Belarus in bilateral negotiations, concerning the access to its ICT services market. Sector recommendations take into account widespread trade policy measures in foreign countries. Country recommendations are about the principles of regulation of ICT market subsectors in a particular country. It is also necessary to take into account national regulatory practices and future development of the ICT market, to have an idea about positive and negative effects of its opening.