The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) exerts constant pressure on governments to commercialise services and open national and local markets to foreign service providers. This World Trade Organization agreement, which has been the model for services rules in subsequent bilateral and regional free trade agreements, is designed to lock in liberalisation and privatisation, preventing future governments from changing policy course. Its constitutional-style restrictions constrain democratic accountability and seek to impede alternative development policies built around expanded public services and more protective public interest regulation of commercial services.
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