Liberalizing Basic Telecommunications: The Asian Experience

30 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Carsten Fink

Carsten Fink

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Aaditya Mattoo

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Randeep Rathindran

World Bank

Date Written: November 21, 2001

Abstract

Despite the move away from traditional public monopolies, most Asian governments are still unwilling to allow unrestricted entry in telecommunications, eliminate limits on private and foreign ownership, and establish strong, independent regulators. But where comprehensive reform has been undertaken - including privatization, competition, and regulation - the availability of main lines, the quality of service, and the productivity of labor are significantly higher. Fink, Mattoo, and Rathindran examine the liberalization of the basic telecommunications sector in Asian countries with a view to identifying good policy and determining how multilateral negotiations can promote it. They find that most Asian governments, despite the move away from traditional public monopolies, are still unwilling to allow unrestricted entry, eliminate limits on private and foreign ownership, and establish strong, independent regulators. But where comprehensive reform has been undertaken - including privatization, competition, and regulation - the availability of main lines, the quality of service, and the productivity of labor are significantly higher.

Somewhat surprisingly, little unilateral liberalization has occurred since the last round of telecommunications negotiations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The new round therefore faces the challenge of not merely harvesting unilateral liberalization, as in the past, but of negotiating away existing restrictions.

Since quantitative restrictions on the number of telecommunications service suppliers are pervasive, deepened GATS rules could help ensure transparent and nondiscriminatory allocation of licenses. There may also be a need to sharpen the regulatory principles established in the last round and to create rules that safeguard not only the rights of foreign suppliers but also those of consumers.

This paper - a product of Trade, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to assess the implications of liberalizing trade in services. This research is supported in part by the U.K. Department for International Development.

Keywords: Services trade policy, regulation, telecommunications, GATS

JEL Classification: F13, L12, L51, L96

Suggested Citation

Fink, Carsten and Mattoo, Aaditya and Rathindran, Randeep, Liberalizing Basic Telecommunications: The Asian Experience (November 21, 2001). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=634429

Carsten Fink

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Aaditya Mattoo (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Room MC 3-327
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-458-8047 (Phone)
202-676-9810 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/amattoo

Randeep Rathindran

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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