Clarifying the meaning of WTO telecommunications obligations: Mexico – measures affecting telecommunications services

Laura B. Sherman (Consultant to the World Trade Organization on trade in services)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To provide the key findings of a WTO Panel regarding Mexico's commitments in basic telecommunications service in a way that will help telecom regulators and government policy makers implement their WTO commitments and to respond to criticism of the panel's findings.


The article assists government policy makers and telecommunications regulatory authorities to understand the WTO Panel's decision which concluded that Mexico failed to carry out its WTO obligations in basic telecom services. It analyzes the WTO Panel decision and articles criticizing the decision, reviews relevant WTO documents and draws on the author's participation in the WTO basic telecom services negotiations. It provides a brief introduction to the relevant WTO agreements, describes the key findings of the WTO Panel and lessons for telecom regulators and policy makers based on those findings, sets out the claims made by the USA against Mexico, and describes the WTO Panel findings. The article also includes a response to criticisms leveled against the WTO Panel decision.


The WTO Panel decision provides important guidance in interpreting the scope of obligations in cross‐border supply of international telecom services, cost‐oriented interconnection, access to and use of the public switched network on reasonable terms and conditions and the scope of anti‐competitive conduct that needs to be regulated. Much of the criticism of the WTO Panel decision is based on incorrect interpretation of WTO obligations, lack of knowledge of the negotiating history and exaggerated readings of the panel decision.

Practical implications

The WTO Panel decision clarifies many of the most important WTO obligations related to basic telecom services. Government policy makers and regulatory authorities need to understand the WTO Panel decision as they take action to implement their own WTO obligations and as they consider undertaking new obligations.


The article offers practical advice to government policy makers and regulatory authorities on how to implement their WTO commitments in basic telecom services.



Sherman, L. (2005), "Clarifying the meaning of WTO telecommunications obligations: Mexico – measures affecting telecommunications services", info, Vol. 7 No. 6, pp. 16-32.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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