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progressive liberalization

the entire text of GATS' 'progressive liberalization' (Part IV) Progressive liberalization (along with similar concepts like standstill/rollback, the ratchet effect, or "trade creep") Lock in all deregulation, preventing re-regulation, nomatter what people vote for in afflicted countries. Once a service has been privatized, countries get a situation that they cannot afford to reverse. This traps them in a race to the bottom whose only endgame is a complete capture of government where government is replaced by corporate rule, because re-regulation of corporations is prohibited by trade treaties. Inhabitants have to move to other countries that have not adopted the particular bad policies yet. But not under Mode 4, because Mode 4 disenfranchises and disempowers workers. There really is no acceptable option.

Who traded who what in the GATS?

Its clear to me that neither Americans nor Britons have even the foggiest idea of what the GATS is or even that it exists. But it does and its one of the main reasons why everything is so broken.

The TISA Initiative: an overview of market access issues (WTO Staff Working Paper, No. ERSD-2013-11)

"Generally speaking, in a positive-list approach to scheduling commitments, market access and national treatment are granted only in the sectors expressly listed by each party in its schedule; for each sub-sector, the parties then indicate the level of commitment granted for each mode of supply. In contrast, in a negative-list approach, market access and national treatment apply fully to all covered service sectors, except to the extent that non-conforming measures (commonly referred to as “reservations”) providing otherwise have been listed in annexes. In other words, under this approach, everything is in principle liberalized unless specified otherwise in the annexes. In a positive-list approach, nothing is liberalized, unless expressly specified otherwise. Negative-list agreements also typically include a 'ratchet' mechanism, which automatically binds future liberalization for remaining existing non-conforming measures."

Whistleblowing in a Foreign Key: The Consistency of Ethics Regulation Under Sarbanes-Oxley with the WTO Gats Provisions

By Stewart M. Young - United States Attorney's Office - District of Utah Abstract This Article discusses the consistency of the legal regime established by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the ethical regulations proposed by the SEC, in relation to the legal services portion of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) General Agreement on Trades in Services (GATS). It discusses the GATS and its effect on the legal services market in general. It then examines how the ethics commitments in the United States Schedule of Commitments to GATS are treated. It examines the new ethical responsibility requirements imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the subsequent proposals by the SEC. It concludes by demonstrating that the ethical requirements imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the SEC are not consistent with the United States' obligations under GATS regarding legal services. This Article also discusses possible approaches to reconciling the proposed rules with GATS and action that might be taken by WTO member countries, including under the dispute resolution provisions of the WTO agreements. The ultimate conclusion of this Article is that the SEC-proposed standards as applied to nondomestic law firms are potentially irreconcilable with GATS, and likely to create friction between the United States and a number of our trading partners. The most important purpose of this Article is to analyze the inconsistency of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the proposed SEC rules with GATS. Second, this Article can be read as a case study for the domestic imposition of ethical standards on the trade in services and legal services field in general. Third, this Article will potentially add fuel to the fire for implementing international ethical standards in certain global service industries, including the legal services field in particular. Keywords: Sarbanes-Oxley, SEC, World Trade Organization, WTO, General Agreement on Trade in Services, GATS, ethics regulation

TISA - backdoor services liberalisation on a global level!

The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) currently under negotiation on the side-line of the World Trade Organization (WTO) poses significant deregulatory threats for the majority of services sectors. International trade in services is dealt with by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and its annexes. Each WTO country so far autonomously decides which sectors are to be opened up to cross-border competition. Services sectors liberalisation is carried out once governments gave their explicit agreement to do so (positive lists). TISA intends to reverse this logic and implement a negative listing of liberalisation commitments. Only explicitly targeted sectors in the agreement would not be subject to further liberalisation. This poses significant risks of liberalising all services sectors of the economy unless explicitly exempted from the agreement. TISA would contain “Standstill” and “Ratchet” clauses. Standstill clauses effectively freeze the degrees of regulation in particular sectors and countries are no longer free to implement more strident regulatory provisions. A recently leaked text showed that the financial services industry, through TISA, intends to freeze international financial regulatory efforts by setting a minimum regulatory floor which could not be subsequently superseded by any government wishing so. Ratchet clauses effectively impede government to reverse achieved liberalisation floors. Once a sector is liberalised, there cannot be a turning back. These clauses mean that governments will no longer be able to challenge decisions and choices made by previous governments. The combination of the ratchet and standstill clauses renders the reversal of liberalisation levels impossible. Additionally, TISA could prescribe necessity tests for regulatory measures. Governments would have to prove the necessity of a regulatory instrument before implementing it. For example, in a discussion of universal coverage, a Government would have to prove the necessity of re-regulating already privatised services such as postal services.

WTO - legal texts - Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services

"As of 2009, the 33 countries whose current schedules reference the Understanding include: Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States, as well as the European Communities members as of 1994 (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.) The only developing nations that utilized the Understanding were Aruba, Netherland Antilles, Nigeria, Sri Lanka (for banking not insurance), and Turkey. Additionally, eight countries (Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia) were in the process of revising their commitments to match the EC schedule" (from the commentary by Jane Kelsey on TISA Financial Services text) -- This document regulates government regulation of financial services like banking and insurance, including health insurance, greatly limiting what we can do. In particular it is thought to freeze new financial services regulations after its signing date, unless they were enumerated then. In the case of the US that date is February 26, 1998. If challenged in a WTO dispute proceeding a country that has violated a "standstill" may have to roll back its regulatory state to the level of regulation in effect on that date. A related concept, "ratchet" is also said to apply in WTO law - it denotes a one way capture of all deregulation in a committed sector making it a violation to re-regulate. See the definitions of "standstill", "rollback" and "ratchet" in trade parlance.

The Potential Impact of the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services on Health System Reform and Regulation in the United States. (2009)

This paper is perhaps one of the best introductions to the GATS issue for Americans on this site, as it shows the blockade that has been put in the way of urgently needed healthcare reforms, a blockade that few Americans even realize is there. In this 2009 paper, the late Nicholas Skala, explained the "GATS" agreement, its implications for US healthcare reform and why we urgently need to apply for and pursue a specific procedure (Article XXI) to withdraw from the GATS in order to avoid built in traps for the unwary, for example, to get single payer health care. This is all necessary because previous Administrations quite foolishly signed away our rights to regulate dozens of services including those relevant to healthcare financing and delivery (and many others, literally most of our economy) away in the GATS when we entered the WTO. Skala also explains how additions made to GATS in 1998 further prevented and hamstrung regulators, If they attempt to expand instead of deregulate existing social services without leaving GATS or formally modifying the US's "Schedule of Specific Commitments" using Art. XXI FIRST. (See 'Recommendations' section) Otherwise, we cannot improve anything and attempts to expand the Affordable Care Act will encounter numerous GATS provisions like "standstill" and "rollback", which are meant to protect foreign investors profits, locking them in at the Feb 1998 level. If a demand is made in the WTO, compel us to make cuts to restore that previous level of regulation. The level at the end of February 1998 is carved in stone as a regulatory ceiling we are not supposed to exceed. TISA also embeds the GATS dates apparently. GATS can also impact jobs and a newer agreement also globalizes procurement of services, requiring the opening of the economy to temp worker companies if they can provide services cheaper than US firms, potentially taking control over a very wide range of once public & quasi-public government funded and subsidized activities, unless they qualify for a very few, narrow exemptions, such as the 'governmental authority exclusion' defining what can be a 'public service'. (see that keyword on the left, below) If you only read a few papers on GATS on this site, make sure this is one and also read that keyword. Also see "explainer" tagged items.