Objective 1.1

Ease of movement of people, capital, services and data across borders

Action 1.1J

Industry will continue and intensify engagement in commercial diplomacy efforts offshore, to build mutual recognition of professional qualifications, greater alignment of financial regulations and enhanced interoperability of domestic regulations and standards, including digital standards.

Australian Services Roundtable

Industry
recommendation/s
Description
Government response
Related Action/s
5.1D

Continue to pursue the recognition of Australian qualifications and professional recognition overseas, and in-demand foreign qualifications in Australia.

Agreed
9C

Encourage the development and harmonisation of high-quality digital standards with key trading partners, including through FTAs, in multilateral fora, and through regulator-to-regulator cooperation. This could include facilitating the development of international digital standards.

Agreed-in-principle

Progress to date

The Australian Services Roundtable (ASR) and its members have been active in commercial diplomacy efforts throughout 2021. Considerable attention has been given to industry advocacy for services outcomes at the 12th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (MC12), especially with respect to the extension of the WTO Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions and plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce and services domestic regulation.

ASR has co-hosted or contributed to six outreach webinars on services domestic regulation, including with with the Asia Pacific Services Coalition (APSC), the Global Services Coalition (GSC) at the Global Services Summit in Washington DC, UNESCAP, and two affiliated with APEC. ASR is working with other members of the GSC and engaging the co-convenors of the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on electronic commerce on outreach in the lead up to MC12.

On Digital Trade, ASR has joined global services and digital trade stakeholders in four different media releases and letters to WTO Ministers, G20 Digital Economy Ministers, and to the European Commission specifically on data flows. ASR has also co-funded a GSC paper on digital services taxation and participated in three international webinars on digital taxation.

ASR's efforts have also been increasingly focused on the pursuit of the Australian services industry's interests in a regional digital economy agreement. ASR contributed to a Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) webinar hosted by the Government of Japan, in a panel focused on the Digital Trade chapter, and participated in two Asian Development Bank workshops on digital services.

ASR has also contributed to APSC and APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) input to the 2021 Mid-term review of the APEC Services Competitiveness Roadmap (ASCR), including drawing attention to Australia's Services Exports Action Plan as a potential model for all APEC economies. It also contributed in multiple other forums, including:

  • a keynote address on the ASCR to the 5th China Forum on Trade in Services Standardisation hosted by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT)
  • an address to the APEC Group on Services (GOS) on the impact of COVID-19 on regional trade in services, and
  • speaking at the GOS Trade Policy Dialogue.

ASR is working closely with ABAC and APSC to deliver the APEC Public-Private Dialogue on Services in 2021.

During 2020, the Australian Services Roundtable (ASR) was involved in organising and moderating two high profile webinar panel events in the Digital Trade Stream at the 2020 Geneva Trade Week. It was also involved in the preparation of a co-authored THINK 20 Policy Brief to deliver policy recommendations for the G20 on Digital Technologies, Services and the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Throughout 2021, ASR will contribute to three events at the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum in September, participate in events at the 2021 Geneva Trade Week, host an event on the WTO Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation and speak at events on Essential Services, and on Services, Innovation and Our Shared Digital Future. Separately, ASR will co-host an event on e-commerce, regulatory cooperation and digital standards with the OCED Trade Directorate in November.

In addition, ASR has been involved in the preparation of the co-authored THINK 20 Policy Brief on Digital Trade: Top Trade Negotiation Priorities for Cross-Border Data Flows and Online Trade in Services. It participated in the Global Solutions Digital Governance Taskforce for part of the year and it will attend the Global Trade Forum held at EUI in Italy this year.

In 2021, the Australian Services Roundtable (ASR) has been organising joint domestic industry association events on Australian industry interests in Australia's free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the United Kingdom and European Union.

This includes events involving industry counterparts in the UK and EU, such as co-hosting three webinars with UK industry stakeholders and UK government officials. ASR is also planning an event on the services, investment and digital trade aspects of the Australia EU FTA for December 2021. It has also joined the European Australian Business Council in planning a 2022 celebration of the Australia-EU relationship with the EU Delegation.