General obligations, Specific obligations in GATs
Obligations of members
- General Obligations: These includes to all services and to all members.
MFN Treatment: Most Favoured Nation treatment means treating one’s trading partners equally. Under GATS, if a country allows foreign competition in a sector, equal opportunities in that sector should be given to service providers from all other WTO members. It is based on Favour one, favour all principle.
Transparency: Members are required to publish promptly “all relevant measures of general application” that affect operation of the agreement. Members must also notify the Council for Trade in Services of new or changed laws, regulations that affect trade in services covered by their specific commitments under the agreement. Each member is required to establish an enquiry point, to respond to requests from other members for information.
Specific obligations: Obligations which apply on the basis of commitments, laid down in individual country schedules concerning market access and national treatment in specifically designated sectors.
Market Access: The granting of market access is a commitment undertaken by individual Members in specified sectors after negotiations. It may be made subject to one or more limitations. For example, limitations may be imposed on the number of services suppliers, service operations or employees in a sector, the value of transactions.
National Treatment: National Treatment requires equal treatment for foreign providers and domestic providers. Once a foreign supplier has been allowed to supply a service in one’s country there should be no discrimination in treatment between the foreign and domestic providers. This is not the same as MFN.
Exemptions: Members are allowed to introduce or maintain measures in contravention of their obligations under the Agreement, including the MFN requirement or specific commitments in specific circumstances. These circumstance cover measures necessary to protect public morals or maintain public order, protect human, animal or plant life or health.