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The Tisa Initiative: An Overview of Market Access Issues

The plurilateral negotiations on a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) have attracted much attention in trade policy circles. Policy and economic implications are intensely debated given the number and economic importance of participants.

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This paper aims to provide insights into the market access issues arising in such negotiations. Should TISA negotiations result in participants exchanging the best commitments they have so far undertaken in their preferential trade agreements (PTAs) — a reasonable starting point −, TISA market access commitments would go well beyond GATS commitments and services offers tabled in the Doha Round. While this would be in itself a significant outcome (especially in terms of predictability and stability), we also highlight, however, that the real economic benefits would be reduced by the fact that a number of participants have already exchanged significant concessions amongst themselves through bilateral PTAs. Further, and more importantly, exchanging ’best PTA’ commitments would not meet the participants’ most important export interests. These have often remained unaddressed in many of the previous bilateral negotiations or involve countries not currently participating in TISA. Addressing better these export interests would require going beyond an exchange of ’best PTA’ commitments among TISA participants — with the more difficult policy and negotiating decisions that this implies — and/or seeking to expand the group of participants. We also discuss the different forms that such a plurilateral agreement may take vis-à-vis the WTO framework.


No: ERSD-2013-11

Authors: Juan A. Marchetti and Martin Roy

Manuscript date: November 2013

Key Words:

GATS, trade in services, preferential trade agreements

JEL classification numbers:

F13, F15, F53

Disclaimer  back to top

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 author. 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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