'How Does it Feel to be on Your Own?' Mutual Recognition Agreements and Non Discrimination in the GATS: A 'Third Party's' Perspective
German Law Journal, Vol. 11, No. 8, 2010
35 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2010
Date Written: August 1, 2010
The aim of this working paper is to analyze the compatibility between two relevant provisions of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) under the World Trade Organization (WTO). The first is art. VII, Recognition, which seems to allow a Member to recognize standards of one or more Members – and not of others – without violating its GATS obligations, although this freedom should not be abused. The second is the general Non-Discrimination provision as of GATS art. II, since the aim of the GATS, at least as it reads in its preamble, is to provide a multilateral framework to trade liberalization in the services market on a non-discriminatory basis. Through the following pages, I will try to explain the rationale to sign Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and their impact on the GATS system. It is true that there is a general principle of transparency and openness of the MRAs, but it is necessary to get our hands dirty with the reality and understand if and how such an openness clause works.
The most important part of my research has been checking all the MRAs, the Unilateral Recognition provisions (GATS art. VII.4) and the Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) (GATS art. V) notified to the WTO secretariat, and the results of this work are, in some cases, unexpected, in terms of actors involved, number of agreements signed, and their contents.
Keywords: Mutual Recognition Agreements, GATS, WTO, Non-Discrimination, PTAs
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