Monday, 23 July 2012

Services and the Environment

Aaditya Mattoo, an economist from the World Bank was in Geneva recently giving a talk at ITC. He was presenting their Services Trade Restrictions Database that allows users to compare information on services trade policy measures for 103 countries across five sectors. Two interesting points of discussion: Is it in the interest of smaller countries to open up their markets? Mattoo gave examples where he thought it was, for example after the deregulation of the telecommunications industry in the Caribbean, consumer prices immediately fell; in Africa liberalization has lead to huge growth in mobile telephony to the obvious benefit of consumers. But he asked was the competition really that stiff and could prices be lower with more competition in the market. On Environmental Services and Aid for Trade: he thought that the growth in environmental services was constrained less by trade measures and more by the nature of environmental regulation and thus domestic incentives for developing the sector. What does this mean for ITC and AfT? Rather than focusing on selecting technologies, create favourable regulations to create demand for selected outcomes, e.g. lowering GHG emissions.