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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What is the General Agreement on Trade in Services?

The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is a trade agreement that establishes ‘a credible and reliable system of international trade rules [for the services sectors], ensuring fair and equitable treatment of all participants … stimulating economic activity through guaranteed policy bindings; and promoting trade and development through progressive liberalization.’* It covers all services sectors with the exception of services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority and measures affecting air traffic rights and services. It identifies four modes of supply: cross-border supply, consumption abroad, commercial presence abroad, and the presence of natural persons abroad.

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