Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Pierre Sauvé and Martin Roy
Chapter 9: Domestic regulation and services trade: Lessons from regional and bilateral free trade agreements
Developing rules for non-discriminatory domestic regulations remains one of the key elements of the unfinished agenda of the GATS. Negotiations in the Working Group on Domestic Regulation have produced a considerable level of consensus in recent years, but some critics claim that this consensus was reached at the expense of developing only shallow disciplines. In any event, fully-fledged Domestic Regulation disciplines have not yet been finalized in the WTO context. At the same time, numerous regional and bilateral trade agreements (PTAs) covering trade in services have been concluded since the entry into force of the GATS. This raises the question of whether and to what extent such PTAs have developed any further disciplines on domestic regulation and whether such disciplines could be used as a model for the GATS. Initial research suggests that the potential for more advanced general rules on domestic regulation in PTAs may not be as significant as one would expect. However, many of these agreements contain chapters on regulatory rules and principles for specific sectors which should be further studied and developed.
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