General Agreement on Trade in Services

The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the first multilateral trade agreement to cover trade in services. It entered into force as a result of the Urugay Round negotiations, in January 1995, and constitutes the legal framework for the current DDA negotiations. The GATS mandates WTO member governments to progressively liberalize trade in services through successive rounds of negotiations.

According to the principles of the WTO, the GATS sets a legal and regulatory framework for international trade to which all WTO Members members are equally bound. The principle of non-discrimination is to ensure an equal treatment of all participants whereas the promotion of trade and development is to be achieved through the progressive liberalisation of trade in services.

For further information and insight to the GATS consult the

The “Final Act” signed in Marrakesh in 1994 is like a cover note. Everything else is attached to this. Foremost is the Agreement Establishing the WTO (or the WTO Agreement), which serves as an umbrella agreement. Annexed are the agreements on goods, services and intellectual property, dispute settlement, trade policy review mechanism and the plurilateral agreements. The schedules of commitments also form part of the Uruguay Round agreements.

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