Take Action Publications Press Room About Public Citizen Public Citizen Divisions Home
Promoting democracy by challenging corporate globalization

JOIN US! |Take Action | Publications | About Trade Watch | Contact Us
Email Signup

Fair Trade Archive: GTW E-Newsletters, Action Alerts, and Updates

Sign up for our free activist updates.


For Keyword(s)
advanced search

Conflicts Between WTO Rules and Prudent Domestic Policies

Depending upon the specific sector, some existing U.S. commitments in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), one of the “Uruguay Round” agreements enforced by the WTO, arguably could be used to attack some of the vital policy proposals currently under consideration. The GATS sets international rules that limit signatory governments’ ability to domestically regulate the operation and ownership of services, including both essential public services and private sector service providers. The breadth of GATS has been illustrated most recently by the WTO’s preliminary ruling that the United States must allow Internet gambling from offshore service providers, which has been illegal in the United States under federal laws that restrict the cross-border supply of gambling services.

Some proponents of deregulation, privatization and offshoring have raised the specter of U.S. obligations under GATS to criticize recent offshoring policy proposals. In fact, the GATS provisions in question are quite vague, making it unclear whether the proposals outlined above would be in conflict with GATS rules.

However, a real threat is posed by what the Bush administration might do very shortly in the WTO GATS expansion talks now under way in Geneva. Called “GATS 2000,” these negotiations are designed to expand GATS commitments to more sectors of the service economy. A core element of these negotiations is establishing new disciplines that limit domestic regulation of professional qualifications and other service-sector matters. This proposal must be closely examined by members of Congress who champion accessible health care, public education or protection of Social Security, because under the proposed new WTO limits, many major domestic programs in service sectors could be undermined by expanded GATS disciplines. Congress should forbid the Bush administration from agreeing to such new commitments in GATS 2000.

Further reading:

Hot Issues

» Return to the main Offshoring page

    » trade | offshoring | rules

Because Public Citizen does not accept funds from corporations, professional associations or government agencies, we can remain independent and follow the truth wherever it may lead. But that means we depend on the generosity of concerned citizens like you for the resources to fight on behalf of the public interest. If you would like to help us in our fight, click here.

Join | Contact PC | Contribute | Site Map | Careers/Internships| Privacy Statement