Sufficient information about potentially relevant rules and regulations is critical to the effective implementation of an Agreement. Article III ensures that Members publish promptly all measures pertaining to or affecting the operation of the GATS. Moreover, there is an obligation to notify the Council for Trade in Services at least annually of all legal or regulatory changes that significantly affect trade in sectors where specific commitments have been made. Members are also required to establish enquiry points which provide specific information to other Members upon request. However, there is no requirement to disclose confidential information (Article IIIbis).
Given strong government involvement in many service markets — for various reasons, including social policy objectives or the existence of natural monopolies — the Agreement seeks to ensure that relevant measures do not undermine general obligations, such as MFN treatment or specific commitments in individual sectors. Thus, each Member is required to ensure, in sectors where commitments exist, that measures of general application are administered impartially and in a reasonable and objective manner (Article VI:1). Service suppliers in all sectors must be able to use national tribunals or procedures in order to challenge administrative decisions affecting services trade (Article VI:2a).
Food for thought:
- Give examples of policies that are currently in place to
support your government’s transparency commitments.
- Publication of relevant
laws and regulations in official journals, government gazettes etc.
- Operation of information
centres. Consultations with industry,
trade and consumer associations.