While the GATT and other WTO Agreements deal with the trade in goods, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) deals with the trade in services. It is the multilateral agreement dealing with the trade in services with individual member countries underrating varying commitments in different service sectors.
Now there is news that several countries are undertaking an exercise to enter into a new international services agreement to go beyond the GATS to further liberalize the services sector. The failure of the Doha round to achieve further liberalization of the services sector is put forth as one of the reasons for this move. It is another example of the "plurilateral" route that many countries are taking to international agreements with the failure of multilateralism. The USTR website explains the rationale for seeking fresh negotiations in this area with 20 other trading partners quoting USTR Ambassador's letter seeking fresh negotiations. Coverage of new services not covered under GATS, ensuring greater transparency and predictability in regulations covering services of trading partners and addressing new issues that arise int he global market place and the way services trade is conducted are offered as the reasons for entering into a new agreement apart from increasing access to markets for national services sectors. Stewart and Stewart summarizes the move well in this analysis. Peterson Institute for international Economics in this paper has suggested a new framework for an international agreement on services.
Will this be a movement towards GATS 2.0? While the US intends to enter into negotiations with 20 trading partners initially (