Services liberalization in the new generation of Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs): How much further than the GATS?

This paper attempts to fill a gap in the trade literature by providing a comprehensive overview of services liberalization commitments in the new generation of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) as compared to prevailing GATS commitments and Doha Round offers. By developing a new database, the paper reviews the commitments undertaken by 29 WTO Members (counting the EC as one) under mode 1 (cross-border supply) and mode 3 (commercial presence) in 28 PTAs negotiated since 2000. The paper presents a general analysis from both a cross-country and cross-sector perspectives, and also examines in more detail the GATS+ commitments undertaken in a number of key sectors (audiovisual, distribution, education, financial, professional, and telecommunication services). The paper also discusses the potential economic costs arising from these preferential agreements, as well as the potential implications for the multilateral trading system, and for the Doha round of negotiations in particular. The paper concludes by discussing possible approaches to overcome the potential downsides of PTAs, including proposals for a more pro-active role for the WTO in the surveillance of these agreements.

No: ERSD-2006-07


Martin Roy, WTO
Juan Marchetti: WTO
Hoe Lim: WTO


Manuscript date: September 2006

Key Words

GATS, trade in services, regionalism, preferential trade agreements.

JEL classification numbers

F10, F13, L8, F2


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This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. This paper represents the opinions of the author, and is the product of professional research. It is not meant to represent the position or opinions of the WTO or its Members, nor the official position of any staff members. Any errors are the fault of the authors. Copies of working papers can be requested from the divisional secretariat by writing to: Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization, rue de Lausanne 154, CH 1211 Geneva 21, Switzerland. Please request papers by number and title.

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