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“Relevant” Regulation of Food Derivatives
Case Study of GATS Negotiations on Domestic Regulation
“Pre-Established” Regulations and Financial Services
The World Trade Organization is negotiating “disciplines” on domestic regulation, one of which requires regulations to be “pre-established.” Established before what? If this means, before government can apply regulations to an existing financial institution, the discipline would limit the government’s authority to change “too big to fail” policies or increase developmental lending mandates to serve businesses that are rural, small, or owned by women.
“Pre-established” Regulations: A Limit on Change
The World Trade Organization is negotiating “disciplines” on domestic regulation, one of which requires regulations to be “pre-established.” Established before what? If this means, before a development permit is sought, the discipline would limit the government’s authority to change environmental or community impact standards before a permit is issued. If so, this discipline could constrain changes in climate policy or environmental regulation of existing extraction industries.
Could a Foreign Investor Use GATS Disciplines in a BIT Claim?
The World Trade Organization is negotiating “disciplines” on domestic regulation that could be more powerful than negotiators realize. They could transform the GATS, the General Agreement on Trade in Services, into the first trade agreement that foreign investors enforce through claims against governments for hundreds of millions of dollars. If so, the magnitude of disputes could change the course of development for a small state or a vulnerable economy.
Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations
The Obama Administration has begun negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and investment agreement intended to begin the process of integrating the economies of the Americas and East Asia. The United States initiated negotiations in March 2010 with seven countries: Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam.
Plain Language Guide to GATS Negotiations on Domestic Regulation
This is a working document by Professor Robert Stumberg at Georgetown University's Harrison Institute for Public Law.
Cities, Wireless Telecommunications, and the GATS
The United States has made a number of market access commitments on telecommunications in its GATS schedule. For states and cities, it's vital to be able to think about public and private interests in media in ways that support democracy and promote local economic development.
Tracking the GATS Negotiations
The WTO reports that it is moving forward in disciplines on domestic regulation of services under the General Agreement on Trade and Service (GATS). The view is toward presenting recommendations by the December WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong. Concerned that the disciplines may limit policy-making by state and local governments, an advisory committee of public officials, the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee (IGPAC), sent comments to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). IGPAC asked the USTR to resist broad restrictions on domestic regulation. Soon after IGPAC sent its report to the USTR, the Working Party on Domestic Regulation (WPDR), which reports to the WTO’s Council on Trade in Services, brought forward a detailed proposal in the form of a “Note by the Chairman.”
Structure and Function of the GATS
The United States has published its updated offer of Specific Commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), in advance of the resumption of services negotiations at the WTO. In a memo to the Chair of the Washington Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Trade Policy, the Harrison Institute has analyzed both the U.S. offer and commented on the political context for the offer. The full memo appears here.
GATS Case Studies: Energy and Health Care
Working groups on Services and Energy each commissioned a working paper regarding how the WTO proposals on domestic regulation could affect state regulators. The Working Groups continue to solicit comments from all interested parties regarding these case studies.
Transparency in Domestic Regulation
GATS Article III lays out WTO Members' transparency obligations. Additional requirements under negotiation would expand these obligations in ways that would significantly burden state and local governments.

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