In March 2001, the Council for Trade in Services in Special Session
approved the ‘Guidelines and
Procedures for the Negotiations on Trade in Services’ (S/L/93). The
document builds to a large extent on relevant GATS provisions, in particular Article IV (‘Increasing
Participation of Developing Countries’) and Article XIX (‘Negotiation of
Specific Commitments’). The Guidelines' main content is summarized below.
Objectives and principles back to top
The main objectives and principles
progressive liberalization as
enshrined in relevant GATS provisions
appropriate flexibility for
developing countries, with special priority to be given to least-developed
- reference to the needs of small and
medium-sized service suppliers, particularly of developing countries
commitment to respect “the existing structure and principles of the GATS”
(e.g. the bottom-up approach to scheduling and the four modes of supply).
Scope back to top
No sectors or modes are excluded
from the scope of the negotiations at the outset.
Special attention is to be given
to export interests of developing countries.
Negotiations will include
discussions on eliminating existing exemptions from most-favoured nation
treatment in order to ensure equal treatment among all WTO members.
- The Agreement's rule-making
agenda — concerning disciplines on domestic regulation (Article
VI:4), emergency safeguards (Article
X), government procurement (Article
XIII) and subsidies (Article
XV) — is integrated into the wider context of the services
Modalities and procedures back to top
Current schedules are the starting point (rather than actual market
Request-offer negotiations are the main approach.
Negotiating credit for autonomous liberalization is based on common
criteria. These criteria were developed later by the Services Council in
‘Modalities for the Treatment of Autonomous Liberalization’ (TN/S/6).
There will be an ongoing assessment of trade in services.
The Services Council has the mandate to evaluate the results of the
negotiations prior to their completion in the light of Article IV.
In keeping with another mandate under Article XIX:3, the Negotiating
Guidelines were complemented later by the 'Modalities for the Special
Treatment for Least-Developed Country Members' (TN/S/13).
The Modalities are intended to ensure “maximum flexibility” for
least-developed countries (LDCs) in the negotiations. Moreover, all members
are committed to exercising restraint in seeking commitments from LDCs as
well as giving special priority to sectors and modes of export interest to
these members in preparing their own schedules.
Paragraph 26 of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration later provided that in
recognition of the particular circumstances of LDCs, they are not expected
to undertake new commitments.
In turn, LDCs are called upon to indicate their priority sectors and modes
so that these can be taken into account. Referring to
Mode 4, the Modalities
recognize the potential benefits provided by the movement of natural persons
to both sending and recipient countries. Furthermore, members envisage, to
the extent possible and consistent with Article XIX of the GATS, to
undertake commitments on that mode taking into account “all categories of
natural persons identified by LDCs in their requests”.
Recognizing that countries have continued to liberalize and introduce
significant domestic regulatory reforms outside of the GATS negotiations, modalities for the treatment of autonomous liberalization were also adopted
by the Council for Trade in Services in Special Session (TN/S/6).
These modalities provide criteria for assessing the value of autonomous
liberalization and the procedures for how such liberalization could be
treated in the context of the current round of services negotiations.
In addition to the market access negotiations, there are also mandates to
further develop certain rule-making areas of the GATS. The Working Party on
Domestic Regulation is mandated to develop disciplines in the area of
domestic regulation as provided for in Article VI.4. The Working Party on
GATS Rules has three negotiating mandates: emergency safeguard measures
(Article X), government procurement (Article XIII) and subsidies (Article