Tuesday, October 16, 2012

GATS, electronic payments and country commitments

I have blogged about the China Electronic Payment Services case here and here

An ASIL Insight into the China Electronic Payment Services case by Panagiotis Delimatsis provides an overview of the implications of the WTO panel report on interpretation of various provisions of the General Agreement on Trade in Services of the WTO. The panel report as well as the commentary indicate the legal complexity and "country-specific" nature of GATS commitments.I am still very confused about the implications and import of this panel report. Concluding about the implications about the panel report, the author states:
"This case follows landmark decisions on the scope of GATS in US—Gambling and China—Publications and Audiovisual Products and is expected to further open China’s financial services market, benefiting American EPS suppliers in particular. Nevertheless, China will likely have several months to implement the Panel ruling. The Panel decision offered additional clarifications for the interpretation of Members’ Schedules of Specific Commitments under GATS. More importantly, as this case was not appealed, the Panel Report represents the only WTO dispute settlement ruling on the overlap in a Schedule of an  “Unbound” commitment (i.e., no liberalization) and a “None” commitment (i.e., full liberalization). The case confirms that the flexibility attributed to Members in drafting GATS Schedules can be a double-edged sword. At present, no clear solution exists to ensure predictability and security in the interpretation of GATS Schedules."
Unfortunately we will not have the Appellate Body opinion on this case as China has decided not to appeal.

Will require a few more decisions of the WTO panels and Appellate Body on the interpretation of GATS provisions to unravel the Agreement. India's challenge to the U.S. Visa rules perhaps can provide more answers?

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