WTO on-line event

Got this too late to attend or to give you a chance to, but it still 
serves as a good introduction to two good sites, how a virtual conference 
with some very good speakers/typists can come together on an important 
topic and a good way to learn a little about the WTO.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 11:02:25 -0800
From: Stephen Messer <sdm28@columbia.edu>
To: jspira@basex.com
Subject: WTO on-line event

Join the Virtual Institute of Information [www.ctr.columbia.edu/vii/] and
Georgetown University's Communication, Culture, and Technology Program
[www.georgetown.edu/grad/CCT/] for an on-line conference discussing the
World Trade Organizations deal on basic telecommunications on Thursday,
March 20, 1997, 10-12pm eastern time [www.ctr.columbia.edu/vii/wto/]. 

Moderated by Dr. William J. Drake
Associate Director, Communication, Culture, and Technology Program,
Georgetown University 

A short introduction appears below, but if you have any questions,
please contact the Virtual Institute of Information: (tel) 212 854 4222,
(fax) 212 932 7816, (e-mail) vii@ctr.columbia.edu

The World Trade Organization Deal on Basic Telecommunications Services: 

Implications for National Markets and the Global Information

On February 15, 1997, an historic agreement to liberalize foreign entry
into basic telecommunications services markets was reached under the
auspices of the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO).  According to
the WTO, the sixty eight countries involved account for ninety percent of
the revenues of a market worth well over half a trillion dollars per year

In a narrow sense, the recent deal is the product of a negotiation
launched in 1994 by members of the WTO's Group on Basic Telecommunications
(GBT) .  But in a broader sense, the GBT agreement is the continuation of
a process set underway during the Uruguay Round trade negotiations that
lasted from 1986 to 1994.  In addition to covering traditional sectors
like manufacturing and new issues like intellectual property, the Uruguay
Round negotiations produced the world's first multilateral arrangement
liberalizing trade in services----the General Agreement on Trade in
Services (GATS).  The GATS accord comprised three elements: a framework
agreement that for the first time applies trade principles like Most
Favored Nation treatment, Market Access, and National Treatment to a wide
variety of services industries; sectoral annexes that clarified the scope
of application of trade principles to a few select sectors; and national
schedules of commitments---over two thousand pages---in which signatories
bound themselves to allow foreign competition in services via designated
modes of supply.  One of the sectoral annexes covered telecommunications
services, although the sensitive question of foreign competition in basic
telecommunications was left to a future negotiation.  The GBT agreement,
then, essentially seals the deal with respect to bringing
telecommunications services fully under the global trade policy framework. 

The GBT deal on basic telecommunications could have a profound impact on
the shape of national markets and, by extension, the Global Information
Infrastructure.  But press coverage of the agreement has been rather
limited, and many analysts of and stakeholders in the global
telecommunications industry are just beginning to find out what the
agreement covers, much less to debate what its effects could be.  There
are many outstanding issues that need to be addressed.  For example, to
what extent will implementation of the agreement affect: National
regulatory policies and institutions? Objectives like interconnection and
universal service?  Local and long-distance competition in telephone
services and other services deemed basic in the national schedules?  The
strategies of the major international carriers, and the prospects of
smaller competitors? The Internet and other advanced networks and
services? The possibilities for developing countries in the global
information economy?  Other regional or global telecommunications
organizations and regimes? 

To address these and other questions, CITI [www.ctr.columbia.edu/citi/]
and CCT [www.georgetown.edu/grad/CCT] have created a special area on the
Virtual Institute of Information to address issues regarding the World
Trade Organization Agreement.  This page includes links to biblographical
information both on-line and off-line.  The on-line chat on March 20 will
be the first event in the series. 

Virtual panelists to lead off the discussion will include:

Cynthia A. Beltz, The American Enterprise Institute
Carlos Primo Braga, The World Bank
Diana Lady Dougan, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Timothy C. Finton, The U.S. Department of State
Robert M. Frieden, Pennsylvania State University
Gary Hufbauer, Institute for International Economics
Tim Kelly, International Telecommunication Union
Bruno Lanvin, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Christophe Leclercq, Commission of the European Union
Jamie Love, Consumer Project on Technology
Allen Miller, Electronic Data Systems
Eli M. Noam, Columbia University
Ben A. Petrazzini, International Telecommunication Union 
Lee Tuthill, World Trade Organization
Anthony Rutkowski, General Magic
Shalini Venturelli, American University

The on-line seminar will consist of a web-based chat program.  To utilize
this, you should be using Netscape 2.0 or higher.  For the first half
hour, the panelists will discuss their viewpoints on the issues.  From
10:30am EST on, the discussion will be open to the public, with Dr. Drake
moderating.  If you wish to follow the discussion without participating,
there will be an option to read the transcript as the discussion proceeds. 
There will also be a forum available to post ideas and continue
longer-term discussions.  If anyone has working papers on this topic that
they would like to submit to be part of the bibliography, please send
email to vii@ctr.columbia.edu. 

Stephen Messer
The Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, 
The Virtual Institute of Informaiton,   http://www.ctr.columbia.edu/vii
smesser@claven.gsb.columbia.edu             sdm28@columbia.edu  
Phone:   212-854-4222                   Fax: 212-932-7816