The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is a vital document that governs international trade in services. It is a treaty that aims to promote and liberalize trade in services between countries. The agreement was negotiated and signed by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994 and entered into force in 1995. The GATS is the first multilateral agreement that deals with trade in services, and it is an essential part of the WTO`s trade regime.
The GATS is a comprehensive agreement that covers a wide range of services, including business, financial, and professional services. It also includes services related to agriculture, telecommunications, construction, tourism, and transport. The agreement aims to ensure that all WTO members have access to each other`s service markets and that they can compete on a level playing field.
One of the critical features of the GATS is the Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) principle. This means that each WTO member must treat all other members equally when it comes to market access and national treatment. In other words, a country cannot give preferential treatment to one trading partner over another; it must extend the same level of treatment to all.
The GATS also allows for the negotiation of specific commitments, which are binding agreements between WTO members. These commitments set out the market access and national treatment obligations that each member will undertake in a specific sector or subsector. The idea is that these commitments provide greater transparency and predictability for service providers and investors, which should encourage more trade in services.
Another important feature of the GATS is the recognition of the right of WTO members to regulate their service sectors. The agreement recognizes that governments have the right to regulate in the public interest, and it provides a framework for addressing trade issues that might arise as a result of these regulations.
The GATS is an essential document for anyone involved in international trade in services. It provides the framework for trade negotiations and helps to ensure that all WTO members have access to each other`s markets. If you`re interested in learning more about the GATS, there are many resources available, including the official GATS PDF, which is available on the WTO website.