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FACT AND FICTION
Misunderstandings and scare stories:
The WTO and Internet privacy
Governments are always free to liberalize unilaterally without making commitments in the GATS. However, GATS commitments have real value in providing secure and predictable conditions of access to markets, which benefits traders, investors, and, ultimately, all of us as consumers. This is why so many Governments have chosen to make binding commitments in the GATS framework, where they are intended to be legally secure.
Nevertheless, GATS commitments, like tariff bindings, are not irreversible. There are four ways in which a country can modify, suspend or even withdraw a commitment if it finds that to be necessary.Any commitment may be withdrawn or modified after it has been in force for three years. On request, "compensation" may need to be negotiated with Members whose trade is affected. This does not mean monetary compensation, as some have alleged, but merely the replacement of the commitment withdrawn by another of equivalent value. This process is similar to the renegotiation of tariff bindings under the GATT, which has been in use for 50 years.
In addition, negotiations are now in progress under the GATS on the question of developing an Emergency Safeguard Measure, whose purpose would be to permit the suspension of a commitment in case of damage or the threat of damage to a domestic industry.
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