Financial Sector Regulation and Financial Services Liberalization at the Crossroads: The Relevance of International Financial Standards in WTO Law
Journal of World Trade, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp. 489-514, 2010
26 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2010 Last revised: 9 Jan 2012
Date Written: March 25, 2010
This article provides an assessment of the relevance in World Trade Organization (WTO) law of the international financial standards set by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (Basel Committee), the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), international cooperation fora bringing together domestic financial regulators. This analysis gauges the potential use of these international financial standards in a potential future dispute settlement involving the domestic regulation of financial services. It demonstrates their relevance in WTO law as well as their both considerable and contested role in the institutional practice of the organization, thereby highlighting the incentives for regulatory harmonization that are embedded in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The difficulties are mainly centered on the Basel Committee due to its limited membership, therefore not meeting the conditions of validity for the recognition of external standards laid down in the GATS, and also leading to the reluctance of some developing countries unwilling to endorse standards to which they have not previously agreed. More broadly, this study reflects on the potential tensions between plurilateral regulatory strategies and the multilateral context of the WTO and highlights the insufficient coordination between the international legal frameworks for the regulation and for the liberalization of financial services.
Keywords: Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, IOSCO, IAIS, G20, WTO, Financial Services Liberalization, GATS
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