The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum provides an opportunity for the United States to advance free, fair, and reciprocal services trade policies in a key region. Work in the APEC Group on Services includes the development of open-market policies, reliable services statistics, and best-practice domestic regulatory licensing and administrative procedures. Current projects include developing an APEC services restrictiveness index and advancing the adoption of measures related to the non-binding principles on Domestic Regulation.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organization of 37 Member countries that serves as a forum and knowledge hub for data and analysis, exchange of experiences, best-practice sharing, and advice on public policies and international standard-setting. USTR’s Services and Investment Office takes an active role in guiding relevant OECD research, including with respect to the Services Trade Restrictiveness Index and its applications, the Digital Trade Restrictiveness Index, and the ongoing development of data that better captures the role of services in enhancing productivity and generating value.
The Services and Investment Office is USTR’s lead office for matters related to the General Agreement for Trade in Services (GATS), the first multilateral, legally enforceable agreement covering trade and investment in services. Signed in 1995, it is one of the key agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which comprises 164 members representing 98 per cent of world trade. The GATS provides a legal framework for addressing barriers to trade and investment in services, and a forum for further negotiations to open services markets around the world. WTO Members take specific commitments to restrict their use of trade barriers, which are contained in Member schedules, similar to the Member schedules for tariffs.