Members of the World Trade Organization may be setting the stage for insurers to participate more actively in the growth of developing markets.[@@]

The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, has welcomed an agreement on a new “framework” that will help start the final phase of the Doha Development Agenda. The agenda is a series of talks that is supposed to lower what advocates say are trade barriers that trap many poor regions of the world in poverty.

The new framework agreement includes prominent references to trade in services.

Services now make up more than half of most countries’ economies, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.

The new WTO agreement represents “a crucial step for global trade,” Zoellick says. “Next we will negotiate the speed limits for how far and how fast we will lower trade barriers.”

The ACLI has issued a statement that praises Zoellick and other WTO leaders for their work on the new framework agreement.

“Of particular interest to ACLI is the WTO’s decision to include services as one of 3 core market access areas,” says ACLI President Frank Keating.

Keating says the WTO has kept services trade reforms on par with reforms in policies that affect trade in manufactured goods and agricultural goods.

“Increased international presence of U.S. private-sector insurers will benefit the global economy as well as individuals, by improving both consumer choice and services offered,” Keating says. “ACLI continues to support the Bush administration’s global trade agenda and the leveling of the playing field through a combination of global, regional and bilateral trade initiatives.”