Role of the World Trade Organization
Created in 1994 as a result of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a global international trade organization that develops international commerce rules and mediates trade disputes among its members. The WTO brings together 148 members1 that participate in negotiations and binding commitments concerning the promotion of competition and the liberalization of international trade of goods and services. General Agreement on Trade in Services
Concluded in 1997 under the auspices of the WTO, the Fourth Protocol to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) represents one of the major steps towards liberalization of the global telecommunications marketplace and the establishment of liberalization.2 The purpose of GATS is to facilitate liberalization of trade in services. Two types of obligations exist under GATS: (i) general obligations that apply to all members and all service sectors covered under GATS regardless of whether or not specific commitments have been made; and (ii) sector-specific commitments regarding market access and national treatment for sectors and activities that members agree to open to international trade. Under the general obligations, there are two main principles: (i) WTO member countries must afford each other most favored nation (MFN) treatment (i.e., prohibition on discrimination that requires countries to afford “treatment no less favourable than that accorded to like services and service suppliers of any other country”);3 and (ii) countries must ensure transparency of local regulations (e.g., countries should publish measures of general application, and allow a period of public comment prior to their issuance). Sector-specific commitments are made regarding market access,4 national treatment5 and other additional commitments.6 WTO members make commitments on market access and national treatment based on one of the...
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