Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Pierre Sauvé and Martin Roy
Chapter 21: Services negotiations: Where have we been and where are we heading?
The chapter reviews the services negotiating process from Marrakech to Bali. It examines the reasons for the failure of trade diplomacy to fulfil the GATS objective of securing a progressively higher level of liberalization of trade in services. It argues that the Doha Round negotiations remain governed by rules from the old GATT days that are no longer adapted to today’s trading landscape. It also identifies a number of obstacles that stand against the applicability of a model based on the reciprocal exchange of market access concessions to services negotiations. The chapter advances some thoughts about the type of actions that could be taken inside and outside the WTO to facilitate the liberalization of trade in services beyond Doha. In particular, it calls for the replacement of mega- rounds, subject to a single undertaking, with a plurilateral approach to trade negotiations, whereby a reduced group of like-minded Members accounting for a critical mass of trade, moves forward in an area of mutual interest on an MFN-basis. The chapter sheds light on the various legal avenues offered by the WTO to conclude a plurilateral agreement on an MFN basis and offers some considerations on the type of bargaining packages most likely to attract support from a critical mass of WTO Members.
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