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The services chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) overlaps, or should be viewed in tandem with, several other chapters in the proposed agreement (e.g. the chapters on investment, financial services, telecommunications, e-commerce, regulatory coherence and business mobility). Supply chain connectivity is another closely related area of the negotiations. We do not confine our analysis and comments here strictly to the specifics of the services chapter on its own, but try to take a holistic view of what the TPP means for international trade in services.
Any attempt to understand what the TPP means for trade in services – and whether it facilitates development of a framework which will encourage international trade – involves an understanding of the setting against which the negotiations have taken place. For complex reasons, the immediate backdrop is that over ten years of services negotiations in the WTO have yet to produce conclusive results. Existing General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) commitments date from the Uruguay Round, since then there has been much autonomous liberalization, but little of this has been captured to date in the WTO. Offers in the Doha Round have fallen well short of initial expectations. Similarly, efforts in the WTO to improve GATS rules and disciplines have made limited, or in some cases no, progress.
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