In all countries, distribution represents a large share of domestic economic activity and employment. The sector is highly dynamic and changing rapidly, with a trend towards the rapid development of new forms of supply — for example, through electronic commerce.
The distribution sector provides the necessary link between producers and consumers, within and across borders. The efficiency of the sector is crucial to ensuring that consumers have extensive access to a wide variety of goods at competitive prices.
1.) In contrast with its economic importance, the sector has attracted a relatively low number of commitments, as 82 members, half of the WTO membership, have specific commitments on distribution services. Wholesale trade services and retailing services have a higher level of commitments than commission agents' services and franchising. Members' commitments sometimes exclude the distribution of certain products.
1.) Like other sectors, distribution services were included in the services negotiations that began in 2000. Various negotiating proposals were submitted — by developed and developing countries — in the first years of the negotiations. In the negotiating proposals, many members lamented the low number of members with commitments in the sector.