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The Global Financial Crisis And Government Support For Banks : What Role For The GATS?

This paper examines whether the GATS is a useful instrument to tackle government support that creates distortions of international competition in the banking sector. The GATS has no specific provisions on subsidies. However, general support schemes ‘as such’ or ‘as applied’ may violate Article XVII if they exclude foreign- owned banks with a commercial presence in the territory of the WTO Member that adopts the scheme. This depends on the specific commitments of the WTO Member and the limitations to this commitment. Moreover, it is required that the excluded banks are ‘like’ the domestic banks. A single application of a general scheme may violate Article VI:1 if solid evidence is available that this application is not reasonable, objective or impartial. Despite these possible violations, the great majority of measures will still be justified under the broad ‘prudential carve-out’. Only support measures that are not reasonably able to achieve the prudential goal will not be exempted. Hence, the GATS imposes only in very limited cases restraint on government support. The WTO Members should address the remaining uncertainties with regard to both the obligations and the exception. This would ensure that the GATS is able to prevent that government support distorts competition and would also alleviate concerns that the GATS constitutes a danger to financial stability.

WTO Conflict with Financial Re-Regulation

The General Agreement on Trade in Services does impose limits on many developing countries’ ability to regulate the financial sector. A response to the article “Regulatory Freedom under GATS: Financial Services Sector” by BK Zutshi, which argued otherwise. (by Todd Tucker and Jayati Ghosh)

The "Prudential Exception" In The GATS After The Case Argentina – Financial Services

Alexandre Marques da Silva Martins - "Experience has shown there has been a need for prudential measures to be imposed on financial services. The global financial crisis of 2007-08 is quite an emblematic example. Therefore, states and financial institutions have united to establish standards as for financial services like the Basel Committee. Only one case about prudential measures in the realm of financial services has been decided thus far at the WTO. In this case, adjudicators heavily utilized the recourse to the ordinary meaning of the main GATS expressions surrounding the prudential measures. This recourse may limit the aid that international norms other than the WTO legislation may provide when resolving issues related to the GATS prudential exception. Still according to the adjudicators, the prudential exception at issue is of evolutionary nature, evolving over time to adapt to particular situations. Besides, there has to be a rational relationship between the measures and their reasons."