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
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;
Hereby agree as follows:
SCOPE AND DEFINITION
Scope and Definition
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:
from the territory of one Member into the territory of any other
in the territory of one Member to the service consumer of any other
by a service supplier of one Member, through commercial presence in
the territory of any other Member;
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
central, regional or local governments and authorities; and
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
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 Annex
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.
4. Each 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 regulations.
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
Disclosure 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.
Increasing 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:
the strengthening of their domestic services capacity and its
efficiency and competitiveness, inter alia through access to
technology on a commercial basis;
the improvement of their access to distribution channels and
information networks; and
the liberalization of market access in sectors and modes of supply
of export interest to them.
2. Developed 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 markets,
commercial and technical aspects of the supply of services;
registration, recognition and obtaining of professional
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:
has substantial sectoral coverage,
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
elimination of existing discriminatory measures, and/or
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
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
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
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.
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
Article V bis
Labour 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:
exempts citizens of parties to the agreement from requirements
concerning residency and work permits;
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.
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.
4. With 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:
based on objective and transparent criteria, such as competence and
the ability to supply the service;
not more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the
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:
does not comply with the criteria outlined in subparagraphs 4(a),
(b) or (c); and
could not reasonably have been expected of that Member at the time
the specific commitments in those sectors were made.
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
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:
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;
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;
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.
Monopolies 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 Article
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
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
falling under Article VIII, 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
 This condition is understood in terms of number of sectors, volume of trade affected and modes of supply. In order to meet this condition, agreements should not provide for the a priori exclusion of any mode of supply.
 Typically, such integration provides citizens of the parties concerned with a right of free entry to the employment markets of the parties and includes measures concerning conditions of pay, other conditions of employment and social benefits.
 The term “relevant international organizations” refers to international bodies whose membership is open to the relevant bodies of at least all Members of the WTO.