The Doha Round seeks to fulfil the mandate of progressive liberalisation inscribed in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to progressively negotiate market access and equal conditions of competition in more services sectors to achieve both a deepening and widening of services trade liberalisation beyond the actual status quo of commitments laid down in GATS during the Uruguay Round. Yet the main benchmark of progress against which a services trade regime will be measured post-Doha lies in formulating behind-the-border disciplines on domestic regulation, agreeing on comprehensive multilateral trade exits, such as trade remedies and temporary import relief, as well as in fostering mutually supportive relationships with services-related agreements, such as in the field of air transport, labour migration, energy and health.
This collection of essays entitled ‘GATS and the Regulation of International Trade in Services’ analyses two periods of cross-border service supply – the post-Uruguay Round era of multilateral and plurilateral liberalisation, with the associated standardisation of services regulation worldwide and development of a services-specific case law on GATS disputes, and the process, postulates and progress of the current Doha Round negotiations – and speculates on the post-Doha GATS regime.
Services trade is an insufficiently studied field in academia, yet services constitute the complex, higher-value work that affords many countries a competitive advantage on the global labour market. The value of services exports worldwide has increased substantially from US$ 17,439.9 million in 2001 to US$ 26,319.3 million in 2004.