The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) mandates WTO member governments to progressively liberalize trade in services through successive rounds of negotiations. Under the mandate of Article XIX, the latest round of negotiations began in January 2000. In March 2001 the Guidelines and Procedures for the Negotiations on Trade in Services were adopted by the Council for Trade in Services. At the Doha Ministerial Conference in November 2001 the services negotiations became part of the “single undertaking” under the Doha Development Agenda, whereby all subjects under the negotiations are to be concluded at the same time.

Major areas of services negotiations

There are four major areas of services negotiations:

  • market access
  • domestic regulation
  • GATS rules on emergency safeguard measures, government procurement and subsidies
  • implementation of LDC modalities (i.e. special treatment for least-developed countries under GATS Article IV.3).
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