The General Agreement on Trade in Services, commonly referred to as GATS, is a multilateral agreement administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that aims to promote liberalization and regulation of international trade in services. It establishes a comprehensive framework to govern and facilitate the cross-border trade of various service sectors, including banking, telecommunications, transportation, healthcare, and tourism.
GATS outlines a set of rules and principles that member countries must adhere to when engaging in trade of services. These include non-discrimination, transparency, equal treatment, and market access. Under GATS, member countries commit to opening up their service sectors to foreign service providers, facilitating fair and open competition in the global market.
The agreement also allows member countries to negotiate specific commitments and concessions on service sectors they want to liberalize and those they wish to keep relatively protected. These commitments are listed in countries' schedules of specific commitments, which serve as detailed documentation of their trade obligations under GATS.
GATS provides a mechanism for resolving disputes that may arise between member countries regarding the application or interpretation of the agreement. Disputes are addressed through the WTO's dispute settlement system, which offers a neutral and binding process to facilitate solutions and resolve conflicts.
Overall, GATS aims to create a predictable and liberalized environment for trade in services, fostering economic growth, job creation, and increased efficiency in service sectors worldwide.