General Agreement on trade in services (Annex 1B of the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization)

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The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is an international agreement that forms part of the legal framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Annex 1B of the Agreement establishes the specific commitments made by WTO member countries regarding the liberalization of trade in services.

GATS is a multilateral agreement that aims to promote the liberalization of services trade among WTO member countries. It covers a wide range of services sectors, including financial services, telecommunications, transportation, professional services, and more.

Annex 1B of GATS contains specific commitments made by each WTO member country with respect to the market access and national treatment for services trade. Market access refers to the conditions and restrictions imposed by a country on foreign service providers seeking to enter its market. National treatment refers to the principle that foreign service providers should be treated equally to domestic service providers once they have entered the market.

Under Annex 1B, each WTO member country lists the specific sectors and sub-sectors to which its commitments apply, as well as any limitations or conditions on market access and national treatment. These commitments can take various forms, such as allowing foreign service providers to establish subsidiaries or branches, removing discriminatory regulations, or opening up certain sectors to foreign competition.

The commitments made under GATS are intended to promote a more open and predictable environment for services trade, facilitating increased market access and promoting fair competition. However, it is important to note that GATS allows member countries to maintain certain measures for reasons such as protecting public health, safety, or public morals.

Overall, GATS and its Annex 1B play a crucial role in regulating and promoting international trade in services among WTO member countries by establishing a framework for liberalization and ensuring non-discriminatory treatment of service providers.

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