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General Agreement on Trade in Services: negotiations concerning Domestic Regulations under GATS Article VI(4)

(November 24, 2000) "In the current preparatory negotiations on services (part of the “built-in” agenda at the WTO) governments are developing positions regarding GATS Article VI(4) which requires the development of “disciplines” on countries’ domestic regulations over services. Specifically, the article seeks to prevent “unnecessary barriers to trade” in regulations regarding “qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements” and to ensure that regulations are “not more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service.” In our view, this entire exercise is unjustified. There should be no role for the WTO in overseeing non-discriminatory domestic regulations (those which do not discriminate in standards and qualifications based on nationality.) This exercise represents a wholly unwarranted intrusion of trade law into important domestic public safety laws".