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No 19 (December 99/Dcembre 99/Dezember 99)
Requiring countries in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to provide better access to their financial services markets, while opening their banking and other financial regulatory regimes to greater public scrutiny are key objectives for the financial services industry in the next Round of trade negotiations. This was one of the main conclusions of the World Services Congress, held in Atlanta in early November, and attended by around 500 representatives from industry and government.
The financial industry, which was well represented in Atlanta, underlined that the WTO talks are critical to the future of their companies. With the domestic EU and US market nearing their saturation points, the international market place is the place of their future.
Meeting under the auspices of the Financial Leaders Group (FLG), established in 1995 to improve co-operation between the US and EU financial industry in trade liberalisation, CEO's stressed that providing greater transparency in the regulatory process - making and applying government regulations - would be central to the success of the negotiations because it provides the "underpinning" to increased market access. Furthermore, there were still restrictions on majority ownership, branch access and other practices, which needed to be targeted. Internal Market Director-General John F. Mogg broadly welcomed the FLG's recommendations, and invited industry to identify any remaining barriers to financial services trade so that negotiators could seek their removal. He added that the chances for success in the talks, however, could be greater if the negotiators stressed the importance of "effective" prudential regulation, rather than using loaded terms like "pro-competitive" regulation, or "de-regulation". He stressed that in the next Round, the EU would also be targeting barriers in developed markets, e.g. in the US, as well as those in emerging markets.
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