This chapter explains the basic structure of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and how it applies to measures that affect trade in services. Although a number of terms and concepts in the GATS have been borrowed from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) — the older agreement covering merchandise trade — there are important differences. That is, the GATS is more comprehensive in coverage, its definition of trade in services extends beyond the traditional notion of cross-border exchange to cover consumer movements and factor flows (investment and labor), and the reach of relevant disciplines is not confined to the treatment of products (i.e., services), but extends to measures affecting service suppliers (producers, traders, and distributors). The breadth in scope and coverage of the GATS contrasts with the flexibility of its rules. Unlike under the GATT, the use of quantitative restrictions is legitimate under the GATS unless explicitly foregone by the Member concerned, and national treatment is not a general obligation, but a negotiable commitment. Country specific schedules of commitments define the extent to which these rules apply to individual service sectors. There are no common templates. The chapter then discusses the achievements to date (or lack thereof) in the current Doha Round of services negotiations, with a focus on the issues especially from a developing-country perspective.
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