Services trade

Ranging from architecture to voice-mail telecommunications and to space transport, services are the largest and most dynamic component of both developed and developing country economies. Important in their own right, they also serve as crucial inputs into the production of most goods. Their inclusion in the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations led to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Since January 2000, they have become the subject of multilateral trade negotiations.

See also:

The GATS covers all services, with few exceptions.

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Introduction to services trade and the GATS 

GATS: objectives, coverage and disciplines
A more in-depth look, in question-and-answer form.

Introduction to GATS
Download in PDF format (16 pages; 253KB; opens in a new window).
> Consult the Guide to downloading files.

Interactive course: General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)


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The mandate 

Browse or download the text of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) from the legal texts gateway. The GATS is the first multilateral, legally binding set of rules covering international trade in services. See also related instruments.

Find decisions of WTO bodies concerning the GATS in the Analytical Index — Guide to WTO Law and Practice

Schedules of commitments and MFN exemptions

  • Introduction, with links to retrieve commitments and exemptions from Documents Online
  • Services Database
    You can use this database to retrieve the services schedule for a Member, or to compare services commitments across Members. The database does not include data on current negotiations.
  • How to read a schedule

The protocols
Results of Post-Uruguay Round negotiations: on telecommunications, financial services, and movement of natural persons.

The Doha negotiating mandate
Section on services in the 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration

Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration

Trade in services and LDCs
Articles IV and XIX of the GATS provide for “special treatment” for least-developed countries (LDCs). This has been pursued through, among other things, a waiver to allow preferential treatment for LDC exporters of services.

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Work in the WTO 

The services negotiations A new services round began in early 2000. The mandate, negotiating proposals and developments in the negotiations.

The activities of the Services Council and its subsidiary bodies ... including the Committee on financial services, the Working Party on specific commitments, the Working Group on domestic regulation, and the Working Party on GATS rules.

Post-Uruguay Round negotiations (1994-97) After the 1986-94 Uruguay Round, negotiations on maritime transport, the movement of natural persons, financial services and telecommunications continued.

> Current Chairperson

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Data on Services Trade

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Contact and enquiry points 

GATS Article IV contact points are intended to facilitate the access of developing country members' service suppliers to information, and Article III enquiry points to provide information to other WTO members.

Search Documents Online
These links open a new window: allow a moment for the results to appear.

  • Contact and enquiry points notified to the Council for Trade in Services (Document code S/ENQ/78*)   > search   > help

The Services Trade Barometer is issued twice a year as a companion to the Goods Trade Barometer.


This integrated database — a joint initiative of the WTO and the World Bank — consists of information on members' commitments under the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), services commitments in regional trade agreements, applied measures, and services statistics.



Staff working papers on Services



See also