Trade in Services

An Answer Book for Small and Medium-Sized Exporters

image of Trade in Services

Services have played an important role in world trade for centuries. However, in the past 40 years, the focus of the services trade has shifted away from facilitating the trade in goods to trading in the services themselves. Dramatic changes in communications and transportation technologies have made this possible. While exporters of goods and services face similar challenges, services exporters have to deal with unique issues, many related to their intangible nature. This guide addresses these issues and offers practical and relevant advice to small and medium-sized enterprises to help them improve their export performance or enter new markets.

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Where can I get information on liberalization commitments in my service sector?

Under GATS, each WTO Member is required to submit a schedule of commitments in the services sectors. If you are planning to export your services to a new market, you should review the schedule of commitments for your target market(s) to determine what the market offers in terms of market access and national treatment for your type of service. Unlike GATT, GATS does not oblige Members to extend market access or national treatment across all services sectors to fellow Members. Obligations are negotiated on a sector-by-sector basis and are stated in the Member’s schedule of commitments. GATS does oblige its Members to have a schedule of specific commitments, regardless of how minimal these commitments may be. Given the nature of GATS, schedules of commitments are continually changing.

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