30th European Conference of the International Telecommunications Society (ITS): "Towards a Connected and Automated Society", Helsinki, Finland, 16th-19th June, 2019
In February 1997 WTO members signed the Fourth protocol, which, for the first time, determined a set of international rules for trade in basic telecommunication services. While this agreement was a major step in the direction of liberalising national telecommunication markets, many deficiencies remained. At the time, it was agreed to enter a new round of negotiations by the year 2000. However, 20 years later, as of today, the former rules are still in place without any revision. While this is rather disillusioning from a free trade perspective, progress has been made on bilateral trade agreements. One such agreement is the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, which provisionally entered into force on 21 September 2017. CETA, that includes two Chapters affecting telecommunications markets, one on services in general and one on telecommunications services, envisages amongst others to further open up service markets to foreign companies by lifting existing market entry barriers. It is the objective of this paper to analyse whether the CETA-agreement on telecommunications services can serve as a blueprint for a future WTO accord towards multilateral trade liberalisation. In answering this question, the results of the CETA-agreement on telecommunication services will be compared with the results of the WTO accord on telecommunications services. Thereby the focus will be on the question whether CETA can serve as model for a future revision of the WTO rules in the area of telecommunications services. Is CETA a major step in the direction of further liberalising national telecommunication markets and are the regulatory provisions detailed enough to make competitive market access become reality?