Sunday, February 5, 2012

General Agreement on Trade in Services - A need for a re-look?

Found this critique of the WTO Ministerial process in a piece that was critical of GATS rules and its possible impact on financial sector de-regulation in the context of the financial crisis. It argued for a renegotiation of the rules of GATS in order to ensure more domestic policy space in the financial sector in the context of the global financial crisis.

"Unfortunately, the official proceedings of the Ministerial Conference went on in Alice-in-Wonderland - style as if no financial crisis had ever happened.   Without anything real to deliver after more than ten years of negotiations on the Doha round, the WTO struggled to demonstrate its continued relevance by trumpeting the accessions of Russia and Samoa – even though accessions are rarely considered to be news at the Ministerial Conference level.  If the powerful countries in the WTO – and its Secretariat – continue to refuse to acknowledge that its extreme deregulation rules require revision, the WTO will continue to lose legitimacy on the international stage.
The good news is that Ecuador’s efforts did raise the profile of the issue among important WTO countries and that the Chair of the WTO’s Committee on Trade in Financial Services has agreed to keep Ecuador’s proposal for a review of the rules on the agenda for the Committee in 2012.  It will be important to watch closely to make sure that the U.S. and EU allow a robust review of the rules to go forward."
Does the GATS require an overhaul or does it give in its present form, sufficient policy space to deal domestically with financial crises?

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