Chapter 5: Emissions trading and the General Agreement on Trade in Services
The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) was negotiated in the Uruguay Round of international trade negotiations, and came into effect in January 1995. Prior to the GATS the liberalisation of all trade in services took place on a bilateral basis. During the negotiation of this agreement it was acknowledged that there were difficulties in liberalising the trade in services. These difficulties were not experienced during the negotiations for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which dealt only with trade in goods. It was these difficulties that caused negotiators to develop a more flexible agreement for services than had been in existence under the GATT. Despite this relative flexibility, there is no ability to ‘opt out’ of the GATS and all Members are bound by it subject to specific commitments. The GATS has a number of different components. The main framework and the Annexes to the GATS incorporate the general obligations and specific commitments provisions, as well as defining the scope of the agreement. The GATS is also associated with a number of protocols. These are binding only on those Members that choose to adopt the provisions contained therein. Finally, each Member’s specific Schedule of Commitments defines the unique boundaries for that Member, in relation to the specific commitments. The general obligations, including the most favoured nation (MFN) provision, bind all WTO Members.
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