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Financial Services and the World Trade Organization: Liberalization Commitments of the Developing and Transition Economies


Aaditya Mattoo


World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

September 1999

World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2184

Abstract:     
Financial services negotiations through the World Trade Organization have helped many developing and transition economies develop more stable and transparent policy regimes, and their commitments in no way compromise their ability to pursue sound macroeconomic and regulatory policies. But the Asian and Latin American participants, especially, held back on commitments to financial liberalization. And there was less emphasis on introducing competition by allowing new entry than on allowing (or maintaining) foreign equity participation and protecting the position of incumbents.

Mattoo analyzes the results of the financial services negotiations under the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

He shows that the negotiations have contributed to more stable and transparent policy regimes in many developing and transition economies and that the commitments in no way compromise the countries' ability to pursue sound macroeconomic and regulatory policies.

But even though the number of countries that participated in the eventual agreement was impressive, the liberalizing content of commitments was in many cases quite limited.

Numerical estimates suggest that in general the African and Eastern European participants made much more liberal commitments than the Asian and Latin American participants. On the whole, the outcome probably reflects how each participant balances the benefit of unilateral commitments against the benefit of retaining bargaining chips for future multisectoral negotiations.

Two aspects of the outcome cause concern:
· There has been less emphasis on introducing competition by allowing new entry than on allowing (or maintaining) foreign equity participation and protecting the position of incumbents.
· Where it was deemed infeasible to introduce competition immediately, participants have taken little advantage of the GATS to lend credibility to liberalization programs by precommitting to future market access.

This paper - a product of Trade, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to advance research on trade in services. The author may be contacted at amattoo@worldbank.org.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

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Date posted: December 8, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Mattoo, Aaditya, Financial Services and the World Trade Organization: Liberalization Commitments of the Developing and Transition Economies (September 1999). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2184. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=629174

Contact Information

Aaditya Mattoo (Contact Author)
World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )
1818 H Street, N.W.
Room MC 3-327
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-458-8047 (Phone)
202-676-9810 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/amattoo
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