GATS 2000: New Directions in Services Trade Liberalization

By Pierre Sauvé; Robert M. Stern | Go to book overview

1 New Directions in Services Trade Liberalization: An Overview

PIERRE SAUVÉand ROBERT M. STERN

THE URUGUAY ROUND OF TRADE TALKS broke new ground by broadening the scope of world trade rules to cover trade areas never before subject to multilateral disciplines. Services, which encompass activities from banking, transportation, travel, telecommunications, and audio-visual services to professional services such as engineering and the law as well as the dizzying array of Internet-based service offerings, have been with little doubt where such broadening was most significant in economic terms.

Services account for more than 70 percent of production and employment in advanced industrial societies, levels that many of the developing world's emerging economies are today fast approaching. With the negotiation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) the policies affecting access to and conditions of competition in service markets are today firmly rooted in the multilateral trading system. The pathbreaking rules established by GATS govern one of the world economy's most dynamic sectors, bringing much needed transparency and fairness to the $2.2 trillion worth of services traded globally on an annual basis.

Despite the growing domestic and international importance of services and the increased worldwide recognition of that importance, efforts to reap the benefits of more open services markets had until recently lagged far behind efforts devoted to opening markets for manufactured goods. The

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