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The GATS and regional approaches to services trade and investment liberalisation

Ayoki, Milton (2015): The GATS and regional approaches to services trade and investment liberalisation.

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This paper examines the approaches to liberalization of trade in services adopted within existing regional agreements (RTAs) as compared to prevailing GATS’ commitments. Using examples from Africa, Latin America, and Asia (of total of over 30 RTAs), it explores how the difficult issues associated with services trade and investment liberalisation are tackled in the RTA-type arrangement and how much further access is granted under RTAs. The results show that in all market access areas, RTAs generally offer superior value added over GATS. In nearly all the modes of supply and sectors, RTA commitments tend to go significantly beyond GATS offers in terms of improved and new bindings (although improvements in mode 4 remains modest in scope across all RTAs). Most RTAs, however, are at the same pace with GATS in securing the rule-making interface between domestic regulation and trade in services and with regard to special treatment for less developed members. RTA commitments tend to lag behind GATS on safeguard mechanism, and disciplines on subsidies.

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