General Agreement on Trade in Services GATS

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The General Agreement on trade in Services (GATS) aims to gradually liberalise global trade in services. The WTO considers services to include areas protected by stringent policies, i.e. public services such as the supply of water and energy, the postal service, the health and education sectors as well as public transport.

The GATS was concluded at the end of 1994 and is constantly being further developed. This places huge pressure on developing countries to open up their services markets to foreign firms. By doing so, the South loses an important tool for shaping policies that benefit disadvantaged groups of the population.

Public Eye and its partner organisations have been highly critical of the GATS, especially in light of the latest financial crisis, which was a painful demonstration of the consequences of insufficient oversight and regulation of the financial sector. Public Eye and its partners are calling for all countries to be given the chance to annul the existing GATS obligations. Further, they demand that no further demands be made for the global South to liberalise trade in services within the framework of the Doha Round.