The General Agreement for Trade in Services (GATS) is the first multilateral, legally enforceable agreement covering trade in services, and investment in the services sector. Signed in 1995, it is designed to reduce or eliminate governmental measures that prevent services from being freely supplied across national borders or that discriminate against locally established services firms with foreign ownership.
The GATS provides a legal framework for addressing barriers to trade and investment in services. It includes specific commitments by WTO Members to restrict their use of those barriers, and provides a forum for further negotiations to open services markets around the world. These commitments are contained in Member schedules, similar to the Member schedules for tariffs.
The Council for Trade in Services (CTS) oversees implementation of the GATS and reports to the General Council.
In addition, the CTS is responsible for a technical review of inscribing specific commitments and waivers from specific commitments; a periodic review of developments in the air transport sector; the transitional review mechanism of the People's Republic of China; implementation of GATS provisions related to the voluntary recognition of foreign qualifications; the Most Favoured Nations (MFN) review; and notifications made to the General Council related to transparency, economic integration, and voluntary recognition of foreign qualifications.
Additional information on WTO services issues is available through the WTO website.