Recognizing the growing importance of trade in services for the growth and development of the world economy;
Wishing to establish a multilateral framework of principles and rules for trade in services with a view to the expansion of such trade under conditions of transparency and progressive liberalization and as a means of promoting the economic growth of all trading partners and the development of developing countries;
Desiring the early achievement of progressively higher levels of liberalization of trade in services through successive rounds of multilateral negotiations aimed at promoting the interests of all participants on a mutually advantageous basis and at securing an overall balance of rights and obligations, while giving due respect to national policy objectives;
Recognizing the right of Members to regulate, and to introduce new regulations, on the supply of services within their territories in order to meet national policy objectives and, given asymmetries existing with respect to the degree of development of services regulations in different countries, the particular need of developing countries to exercise this right;
Desiring to facilitate the increasing participation of developing countries in trade in services and the expansion of their service exports including, inter alia, through the strengthening of their domestic services capacity and its efficiency and competitiveness;
Taking particular account of the serious difficulty of the least-developed countries in view of their special economic situation and their development, trade and financial needs;
1. This Agreement applies
to measures by Members affecting trade in services.
2. For the purposes of
this Agreement, trade in services is defined as the supply of a service:
(a) from the territory of one Member into the territory of any other Member;
(b) in the territory of one Member to the service consumer of any other Member;
(c) by a service supplier of one Member, through commercial presence in the territory of any other Member;
(d) by a service supplier of one Member, through presence of natural persons of a Member in the territory of any other Member.
3. For the purposes of
(i) central, regional or local governments and authorities; and
(ii) non-governmental bodies in the exercise of powers delegated by central, regional or local governments or authorities;
In fulfilling its obligations and commitments under the Agreement, each Member shall take such reasonable measures as may be available to it to ensure their observance by regional and local governments and authorities and non-governmental bodies within its territory;
GENERAL OBLIGATIONS AND DISCIPLINES
1. With respect to any
measure covered by this Agreement, each Member shall accord immediately
and unconditionally to services and service suppliers of any other
Member treatment no less favourable than that it accords to like services
and service suppliers of any other country.
2. A Member may maintain
a measure inconsistent with paragraph 1 provided that such a measure
is listed in, and meets the conditions of, the
on Article II Exemptions.
3. The provisions of this
Agreement shall not be so construed as to prevent any Member from
conferring or according advantages to adjacent countries in order
to facilitate exchanges limited to contiguous frontier zones of services
that are both locally produced and consumed.
1. Each Member shall publish
promptly and, except in emergency situations, at the latest by the
time of their entry into force, all relevant measures of general application
which pertain to or affect the operation of this Agreement. International
agreements pertaining to or affecting trade in services to which a
Member is a signatory shall also be published.
2. Where publication as
referred to in paragraph 1 is not practicable, such information shall
be made otherwise publicly available.
3. Each Member shall promptly
and at least annually inform the Council for Trade in Services of
the introduction of any new, or any changes to existing, laws, regulations
or administrative guidelines which significantly affect trade in services
covered by its specific commitments under this Agreement.
Member shall respond promptly to all requests by any other Member
for specific information on any of its measures of general application
or international agreements within the meaning of paragraph 1. Each
Member shall also establish one or more enquiry points to provide
specific information to other Members, upon request, on all such matters
as well as those subject to the notification requirement in paragraph
3. Such enquiry points shall be established within two years from
the date of entry into force of the Agreement Establishing the WTO
(referred to in this Agreement as the “WTO Agreement”). Appropriate
flexibility with respect to the time-limit within which such enquiry
points are to be established may be agreed upon for individual developing
country Members. Enquiry points need not be depositories of laws and
5. Any Member may notify
to the Council for Trade in Services any measure, taken by any other
Member, which it considers affects the operation of this Agreement.
Article III bis
of Confidential Information
Nothing in this Agreement shall require any Member to provide
confidential information, the disclosure of which would impede law
enforcement, or otherwise be contrary to the public interest, or which
would prejudice legitimate commercial interests of particular enterprises,
public or private.
Participation of Developing Countries
1. The increasing participation
of developing country Members in world trade shall be facilitated
through negotiated specific commitments, by different Members pursuant
to Parts III and IV of this Agreement, relating to:
(a) the strengthening of their domestic services capacity and its efficiency and competitiveness, inter alia through access to technology on a commercial basis;
(b) the improvement of their access to distribution channels and information networks; and
(c) the liberalization of market access in sectors and modes of supply of export interest to them.
country Members, and to the extent possible other Members, shall establish
contact points within two years from the date of entry into force
of the WTO Agreement to facilitate the access of developing country
Members’ service suppliers to information, related to their respective
(a) commercial and technical aspects of the supply of services;
(b) registration, recognition and obtaining of professional qualifications; and
(c) the availability of services technology.
3. Special priority
shall be given to the least-developed country Members in the implementation
of paragraphs 1 and 2. Particular account shall be taken of the serious
difficulty of the least-developed countries in accepting negotiated
specific commitments in view of their special economic situation and
their development, trade and financial needs.
1. This Agreement shall
not prevent any of its Members from being a party to or entering into
an agreement liberalizing trade in services between or among the parties
to such an agreement, provided that such an agreement:
(a) has substantial sectoral coverage, and
(b) provides for the absence or elimination of substantially all discrimination, in the sense of Article XVII, between or among the parties, in the sectors covered under subparagraph (a), through:
(i) elimination of existing discriminatory measures, and/or
(ii) prohibition of new or more discriminatory measures,
2. In evaluating whether
the conditions under paragraph 1(b) are met, consideration may be
given to the relationship of the agreement to a wider process of economic
integration or trade liberalization among the countries concerned.
Where developing countries are parties to
an agreement of the type referred to in paragraph 1, flexibility shall
be provided for regarding the conditions set out in paragraph 1, particularly
with reference to subparagraph (b) thereof, in accordance with the
level of development of the countries concerned, both overall and
in individual sectors and subsectors.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph 6, in the case of an agreement of the type referred to in paragraph 1 involving only developing countries, more favourable treatment may be granted to juridical persons owned or controlled by natural persons of the parties to such an agreement.
4. Any agreement referred
to in paragraph 1 shall be designed to facilitate trade between the
parties to the agreement and shall not in respect of any Member outside
the agreement raise the overall level of barriers to trade in services
within the respective sectors or subsectors compared to the level
applicable prior to such an agreement.
5. If, in the conclusion,
enlargement or any significant modification of any agreement under
paragraph 1, a Member intends to withdraw or modify a specific commitment
inconsistently with the terms and conditions set out in its Schedule,
it shall provide at least 90 days advance notice of such modification
or withdrawal and the procedure set forth in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4
of Article XXI shall apply.
6. A service supplier
of any other Member that is a juridical person constituted under the
laws of a party to an agreement referred to in paragraph 1 shall be
entitled to treatment granted under such agreement, provided that
it engages in substantive business operations in the territory of
the parties to such agreement.
Members which are parties to any agreement referred to in paragraph
1 shall promptly notify any such agreement and any enlargement or
any significant modification of that agreement to the Council for
Trade in Services. They shall also make available to the Council such
relevant information as may be requested by it. The Council may establish
a working party to examine such an agreement or enlargement or modification
of that agreement and to report to the Council on its consistency
with this Article.
(b) Members which are parties to any agreement referred to in paragraph 1 which is implemented on the basis of a time-frame shall report periodically to the Council for Trade in Services on its implementation. The Council may establish a working party to examine such reports if it deems such a working party necessary.
(c) Based on the reports of the working parties referred to in subparagraphs (a) and (b), the Council may make recommendations to the parties as it deems appropriate.
8. A Member which is a
party to any agreement referred to in paragraph 1 may not seek compensation
for trade benefits that may accrue to any other Member from such agreement.
Article V bis
Markets Integration Agreements
This Agreement shall not prevent any of its Members from being
a party to an agreement establishing full integration
of the labour markets between or among the parties to such an agreement,
provided that such an agreement:
(a) exempts citizens of parties to the agreement from requirements concerning residency and work permits;
(b) is notified to the Council for Trade in Services.
1. In sectors where specific
commitments are undertaken, each Member shall ensure that all measures
of general application affecting trade in services are administered
in a reasonable, objective and impartial manner.
Each Member shall maintain or institute as soon as practicable
judicial, arbitral or administrative tribunals or procedures which
provide, at the request of an affected service supplier, for the prompt
review of, and where justified, appropriate remedies for, administrative
decisions affecting trade in services. Where such procedures are not
independent of the agency entrusted with the administrative decision
concerned, the Member shall ensure that the procedures in fact provide
for an objective and impartial review.
(b) The provisions of subparagraph (a) shall not be construed to require a Member to institute such tribunals or procedures where this would be inconsistent with its constitutional structure or the nature of its legal system.
3. Where authorization
is required for the supply of a service on which a specific commitment
has been made, the competent authorities of a Member shall, within
a reasonable period of time after the submission of an application
considered complete under domestic laws and regulations, inform the
applicant of the decision concerning the application. At the request
of the applicant, the competent authorities of the Member shall provide,
without undue delay, information concerning the status of the application.
a view to ensuring that measures relating to qualification requirements
and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements do
not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in services, the Council
for Trade in Services shall, through appropriate bodies it may establish,
develop any necessary disciplines. Such disciplines shall aim to ensure
that such requirements are, inter alia:
(a) based on objective and transparent criteria, such as competence and the ability to supply the service;
(b) not more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service;
(c) in the case of licensing procedures, not in themselves a restriction on the supply of the service.
In sectors in which a Member has undertaken specific commitments,
pending the entry into force of disciplines developed in these sectors
pursuant to paragraph 4, the Member shall not apply licensing and
qualification requirements and technical standards that nullify or
impair such specific commitments in a manner which:
(i) does not comply with the criteria outlined in subparagraphs 4(a), (b) or (c); and
(ii) could not reasonably have been expected of that Member at the time the specific commitments in those sectors were made.
(b) In determining whether a Member is in conformity with the obligation under paragraph 5(a), account shall be taken of international standards of relevant international organizations applied by that Member.
6. In sectors where specific
commitments regarding professional services are undertaken, each Member
shall provide for adequate procedures to verify the competence of
professionals of any other Member.
1. For the purposes of
the fulfilment, in whole or in part, of its standards or criteria
for the authorization, licensing or certification of services suppliers,
and subject to the requirements of paragraph 3, a Member may recognize
the education or experience obtained, requirements met, or licenses
or certifications granted in a particular country. Such recognition,
which may be achieved through harmonization or otherwise, may be based
upon an agreement or arrangement with the country concerned or may
be accorded autonomously.
2. A Member that is a
party to an agreement or arrangement of the type referred to in paragraph
1, whether existing or future, shall afford adequate opportunity for
other interested Members to negotiate their accession to such an agreement
or arrangement or to negotiate comparable ones with it. Where a Member
accords recognition autonomously, it shall afford adequate opportunity
for any other Member to demonstrate that education, experience, licenses,
or certifications obtained or requirements met in that other Member’s
territory should be recognized.
3. A Member shall not
accord recognition in a manner which would constitute a means of discrimination
between countries in the application of its standards or criteria
for the authorization, licensing or certification of services suppliers,
or a disguised restriction on trade in services.
4. Each Member shall:
(a) within 12 months from the date on which the WTO Agreement takes effect for it, inform the Council for Trade in Services of its existing recognition measures and state whether such measures are based on agreements or arrangements of the type referred to in paragraph 1;
(b) promptly inform the Council for Trade in Services as far in advance as possible of the opening of negotiations on an agreement or arrangement of the type referred to in paragraph 1 in order to provide adequate opportunity to any other Member to indicate their interest in participating in the negotiations before they enter a substantive phase;
(c) promptly inform the Council for Trade in Services when it adopts new recognition measures or significantly modifies existing ones and state whether the measures are based on an agreement or arrangement of the type referred to in paragraph 1.
5. Wherever appropriate,
recognition should be based on multilaterally agreed criteria. In
appropriate cases, Members shall work in cooperation with relevant
intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations towards the establishment
and adoption of common international standards and criteria for recognition
and common international standards for the practice of relevant services
trades and professions.
and Exclusive Service Suppliers
1. Each Member shall ensure
that any monopoly supplier of a service in its territory does not,
in the supply of the monopoly service in the relevant market, act
in a manner inconsistent with that Member’s obligations under
II and specific commitments.
2. Where a Member’s monopoly
supplier competes, either directly or through an affiliated company,
in the supply of a service outside the scope of its monopoly rights
and which is subject to that Member’s specific commitments, the Member
shall ensure that such a supplier does not abuse its monopoly position
to act in its territory in a manner inconsistent with such commitments.
3. The Council for Trade
in Services may, at the request of a Member which has a reason to
believe that a monopoly supplier of a service of any other Member
is acting in a manner inconsistent with paragraph 1 or 2, request
the Member establishing, maintaining or authorizing such supplier
to provide specific information concerning the relevant operations.
4. If, after the date
of entry into force of the WTO Agreement, a Member grants monopoly
rights regarding the supply of a service covered by its specific commitments,
that Member shall notify the Council for Trade in Services no later
than three months before the intended implementation of the grant
of monopoly rights and the provisions of paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of
Article XXI shall apply.
5. The provisions of this
Article shall also apply to cases of exclusive service suppliers,
where a Member, formally or in effect, (a) authorizes or establishes
a small number of service suppliers and (b) substantially prevents
competition among those suppliers in its territory.
1. Members recognize that
certain business practices of service suppliers, other than those
may restrain competition and thereby restrict trade in services.
2. Each Member shall,
at the request of any other Member, enter into consultations with
a view to eliminating practices referred to in paragraph 1. The Member
addressed shall accord full and sympathetic consideration to such
a request and shall cooperate through the supply of publicly available
non-confidential information of relevance to the matter in question.
The Member addressed shall also provide other information available
to the requesting Member, subject to its domestic law and to the conclusion
of satisfactory agreement concerning the safeguarding of its confidentiality
by the requesting Member.