World Trade Organization
Publishing date: September 1996
This paper is concerned with three problems in the interpretation of the
national treatment obligation in GATS. First, the precise domain of
Article XVII on national treatment has not been clearly delineated,
particularly in relation to Article XVI dealing with market access.
Secondly, there is a conflict between the text of Article XVII and the
structure of the schedules of commitments, which makes it difficult to
interpret the scope of the national treatment obligation even for
identical services supplied through different modes. The final, and most
complex, problem arises in establishing the definition of "like"
services and "like" service suppliers. Uncertainty about the
precise meaning of the national treatment commitment may undermine the key
GATS objective of creating a secure, predictable trading environment.
Moreover, the extent of liberalization implied by the commitments under
GATS depends on the precise choice of interpretation.
national treatment; GATS; trade in services
paper in MS Word format (137 KB, 40 pages)
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