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Services Negotiations in the Doha Round: Lost in Flexibility?


  • Rudolf Adlung


The World Trade Organization (WTO) rules for services trade, under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), are far broader in policy coverage than their counterpart provisions under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), reflecting, inter alia, the Agreement's extension to cross-border movements of services consumers and factors of production. At the same time, the GATS is significantly more flexible in application than the GATT. There are virtually no political sensitivities, protectionist or not, that could not be formally accommodated within its structure. Moreover, the paucity of relevant jurisprudence on key concepts and a yet incomplete rule-making agenda have provided additional scope for 'creative' interpretation. However, while flexibility was a sine qua non for the conclusion of the Agreement, given the diversity of institutional conditions, political concerns, and so on among participants, it has not been conducive to one of the key objectives: 'early achievement of progressively higher levels of liberalization'. This article discusses possible approaches that, within the Agreement's current structure, could promote the clarity, quantity, and commercial relevance of services commitments and address remaining rule-making issues. However, there is no panacea. The challenge remains to find a reasonable balance between economically meaningful disciplines and their broad application across sectors, modes of supply, and WTO Members. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Rudolf Adlung, 2006. "Services Negotiations in the Doha Round: Lost in Flexibility?," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(4), pages 865-893, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jieclw:v:9:y:2006:i:4:p:865-893

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Adlung, Rudolf, 2009. "Services liberalization from a WTO/GATS perspective: In search of volunteers," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2009-05, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
    2. Bernard Hoekman, 2008. "The General Agreement on Trade in Services: Doomed to Fail? Does it Matter?," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 295-318, December.
    3. Nordås, Hildegunn Kyvik, 2010. "Trade in goods and services: Two sides of the same coin?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 496-506, March.
    4. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8226 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Patrick Messerlin, 2007. "How Much Further Can the WTO Go? Developed Countries Issues," Working Papers hal-00973103, HAL.
    6. Bernard M. Hoekman & Petros C. Mavroidis, 2015. "A Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement for Services?," RSCAS Working Papers 2015/25, European University Institute.
    7. Kox, Henk L.M. & Nordås, Hildegunn Kyvik, 2007. "Services trade and domestic regulation," MPRA Paper 2116, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Adlung, Rudolf & Molinuevo, Martin, 2008. "Bilateralism in services trade: is there fire behind the (BIT-)smoke?," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2008-01, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
    9. World Bank, 2007. "East Asian FTAs in Services," World Bank Other Operational Studies 19240, The World Bank.
    10. Patrick Messerlin, 2007. "How Much Further Can the WTO Go? Developed Countries Issues," Sciences Po publications GEMWP–2007–03, Sciences Po.
    11. Czinkota, Michael R. & Grossman, David A. & Javalgi, Rajshekhar (Raj) G. & Nugent, Nicholas, 2009. "Foreign market entry mode of service firms: The case of U.S. MBA programs," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 274-286, July.

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