World Trade Organisation`s General Agreement on Trade in Services

The existence of specific commitments triggers other obligations, including the notification of new measures with a significant impact on trade and the avoidance of restrictions on international payments and credit transfers. In addition to these general commitments, the GATS contains specific commitments that are binding on Members making such commitments in its annexes (see below). These obligations are not general obligations, but arise from the negotiation process. The two main specific commitments are market access and national treatment: more information on WTO services issues is available on the WTO website. National treatment: A national treatment obligation presupposes that the Member concerned does not implement discriminatory measures in favour of domestic services or service providers. The main requirement is not to change the conditions of competition, in law or in fact, in favour of the Member`s service sector. Here, too, the extension of national treatment in a particular sector may be subject to conditions and restrictions. The GATS General Framework consists of a preamble and 28 articles, followed by eight annexes, eight ministerial declarations and decisions, and an “agreement” on financial services. Most annexes contain specific provisions for specific sectors, while declarations and decisions deal with general institutional issues such as the establishment of working groups, work programmes, mandates, etc.

The European Union`s country engagement plans and consolidated timetable are summarised in an “annex” to the conceptual framework. Several countries have also submitted lists of exemptions for the most favoured countries and their timetables. Finally, certain instruments outside the GATS, such as the Dispute Settlement Agreement and certain institutional provisions of the WTO Agreement itself, are also considered part of the WTO package. National treatment (Article XVII) In sectors in which a Member commits in its calendar, each WTO Member is required to accord national treatment to services and service suppliers of other Member States. This means that the treatment must not be less favourable than the treatment that the government provides to its own services and similar service providers. The initiative to include services in the Uruguay Round came from OECD countries. Given the growing importance of trade in services in global economic relations, the need for a rules-based framework involving in particular the most advanced non-OECD members has become evident. Once this objective has been achieved, this document aims to provide a detailed description of the new global rules applicable to trade in services. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the first multilateral agreement on trade in services. It was negotiated in the last round of multilateral trade negotiations, the Uruguay Round, and entered into force in 1995. The GATS provides a framework of rules for trade in services, creates a mechanism for countries to commit to liberalizing trade in services, and provides a mechanism for the settlement of disputes between countries. The World Trade Organization`s (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services, commonly known as the GATS, created a multilateral framework of rules and principles for trade in services, an important and rapidly growing segment of world trade.

It has also launched a procedure to phase out restrictions on international trade in services. Lol The results of the sectoral negotiations are new specific commitments and/or exemptions for the most favoured countries linked to the sector concerned. They are therefore not legally independent of other sectoral obligations, nor do they constitute agreements other than the GATS. The new obligations and exemptions of the most favoured countries have been incorporated into existing annexes and exemption lists through separate protocols to the GATS. The most-favoured-nation clause shall ensure that each signatory country treats the services and service providers of a Member State without distinction, at least favourably than those of another country, under the conditions and within the limits set out in the Annex to the specific commitments. One of the most important provisions of the GATS on national rules is Article VI:4, which deals with qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements. In order to ensure that measures taken in these three areas do not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in services, the GATS requires that these requirements be based on objective and transparent criteria and not be “more onerous than necessary to ensure the quality of service”. The GATS provides that signatory governments shall not apply licensing requirements or technical standards in a manner that nullifies or undermines their commitments under the Agreement. It also encourages the governments of the Member States to open negotiations with a view to establishing the mutual recognition of the educational qualifications of service providers.

The interests of developing countries have inspired both the general structure of the agreement and the individual articles. In particular, the objective of facilitating the increased participation of developing countries in trade in services has been enshrined in the preamble to the Agreement and is subject to the provisions of Article IV. This Article requires, inter alia, Members to negotiate specific commitments with regard to strengthening the domestic service capacities of developing countries; improving developing countries` access to distribution channels and information networks; and liberalization of market access in areas of export interest to those countries. Commitments contained in the GATS can be divided into two broad groups: general commitments that apply to all members and services sectors, and commitments that apply only to sectors included in a member`s engagement plan. These obligations are set out in individual lists, the scope of which may vary considerably from one member to another. The relevant terms and concepts are similar, but not necessarily identical, to those used in the GATT; For example, national treatment is a general obligation in trade in goods and is not tradable as under the GATS. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the first legally binding multilateral agreement on trade in services and investment in services. It was signed in 1995 and aims to reduce or eliminate government measures that prevent the provision of services freely across national borders or that discriminate against service companies established locally abroad. While the concept of progressive liberalization is one of the fundamental principles of the GATS, Article XIX provides that liberalization shall take due account of national policy objectives and the level of development of Members, both as a whole and in individual sectors. This will give developing countries the flexibility to develop fewer sectors, liberalize fewer types of transactions and gradually expand market access according to their development situation. Other provisions ensure that developing countries have greater flexibility in pursuing their economic integration policies, maintaining balance of payments restrictions and determining access to and use of their telecommunications networks and services.