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Letter from 24 Attorneys General to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk

We write to you, as United States Trade Representative (USTR), to urge that the United States maintain a strong position in support of protecting state laws and administrative regulations in any ongoing negotiations over trade rules (or “disciplines”) on domestic regulation under the General Agreement in Trade in Services (GATS) or in any other ongoing bilateral or multilateral negotiations.

After a decade of discussion, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is now negotiating certain provisions in the GATS to limit the ways in which governments regulate services.  Similar negotiations continue in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) discussions as well as with respect to various bilateral investment treaties (BITs).  Of greatest current concern to the states, and to us as our states’ chief law enforcement officers, are the negotiations within the WTO’s Working Party on Domestic Regulation (WPDR).  Depending on their outcome, the GATS negotiations may undermine the ability of states to enact laws to regulate such areas of commerce as banking, insurance, health care, telecommunications, utilities, professional services, and the distribution of goods.  We understand similar discussions may also be occurring in the near future with the TPP discussions and our concerns are equally relevant with respect to any language being proposed there.

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