Preferentialism in Services Trade: An Interpretation of the WTO Rules and Their Application to Trade Agreements in the Field of Services
Posted: 8 Jul 2016 Last revised: 20 Jul 2016
Date Written: July 5, 2016
The purpose of the paper is twofold. Firstly, it examines the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on preferential trade agreements (PTAs) in the field of services. Secondly, it proposes a specific methodology to analyze services PTAs (referred to as economic integration agreements, EIAs) in light of the WTO rules and also applies the methodology to a specific EIA (the EU-Korea FTA of 2011). As a specific issue, the paper asks how deep EIAs should be in order to escape claims of non-compliance. It asks the question of how the exact coverage and level of nondiscrimination should be assessed in a situation where commitments vary across different states or regions of the same contracting party. No univocal answer can be provided but the paper proposes that in order for WTO Members to be in line with their GATS obligations, Members with internally divided regulatory powers in services should ensure that when signing EIAs, the commitments of all their constituent parts reach the GATS threshold of ‘substantiality’.
Keywords: WTO law, international trade law, trade in services, GATS, preferential trade agreements, economic integration agreements, European Union
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