The Preferential Liberalization of Trade in Services

The Preferential Liberalization of Trade in Services

Comparative Regionalism

Edited by Pierre Sauvé and Anirudh Shingal

The book’s core focus is on comparative scholarship, directing attention to the substantive features of services PTAs around the globe and exploring the iterative nature of rule-making and market opening in a still nascent field of trade diplomacy. It advances a number of ideas on how to multilateralize PTA advances in services and takes stock of the likely impact on the WTO system of ongoing attempts at crafting a plurilateral agreement on trade in services.

Chapter 9: Much ado about nothing much? Australian PTAs in services

Malcolm Bosworth and Ray Trewin

Subjects: law - academic, international economic law, trade law


The importance of enhancing services productivity in improving the Australian economy's efficiency and performance is widely acknowledged. Trade liberalization in services is seen as an important means to this end. It is therefore worth assessing the extent to which Australia's acceleration into Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs), all of which have included services, have contributed to liberalization. In Australia and internationally, PTAs may have gone up to or even beyond GATS commitments in some areas, and hence appear more liberalizing 'on paper'. However, the relevant question remains whether they have actually significantly opened services and increased trade and investment beyond what has been achieved unilaterally. If not, what has been their real liberalization value? Have they led to better regulations and performance, such as generating more or improved Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs), and achieved more open trade in professional services? Have regional public goods, such as joint institutions, been formed off or through PTAs and led to better performance and regional integration? Could well-performing regulations and institutions have been introduced without the significant additional cost and complication of entering PTAs? These issues were recently addressed by the Australian Productivity Commission (PC) in the government-commissioned public study on Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements (PC 2010).

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