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Regulatory Autonomy in International Economic Law

The Evolution of Australian Policy on Trade and Investment

Andrew D. Mitchell, Elizabeth Sheargold and Tania Voon

Regulatory Autonomy in International Economic Law provides the first extensive legal analysis of Australia’s trade and investment treaties in the context of their impact on national regulatory autonomy. This thought-provoking study offers compelling lessons for not only Australia but also countries around the globe in relation to pressing current problems, including the uncertain future of the World Trade Organization and widespread concerns about the legitimacy of investor–State dispute settlement.
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Chapter 3: Trade in Services: Lumbering Towards More Open Markets

The Evolution of Australian Policy on Trade and Investment

Andrew D. Mitchell, Elizabeth Sheargold and Tania Voon

Extract

Trade in services can take many forms (or ‘modes’), such as cross-border delivery, or delivery by a commercial presence in a foreign country. Unlike tariffs or quantitative restrictions on goods, which are imposed at the border, barriers to trade in services are more commonly found ‘behind the border’, through domestic regulation of services industries. This chapter reviews Australia’s obligations to liberalise trade in services under its preferential trade agreements, against the background of its obligations under the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The chapter summarises core obligations and exceptions under Australia’s treaties, highlighting the need for progressive liberalisation and the possibility of reducing some exceptions over time. The chapter distinguishes ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ list obligations and Australia’s approach thereto, while also raising questions as to the consistency of Australia’s preferential trade agreements with the GATS, particularly as regards ‘GATS-minus’ provisions. Keywords: GATS, international investment law, international trade law, liberalisation, regionalism, services

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