Free trade in services, or not?: Efforts and difficulties to liberalize trade in services

International Trade

Trade in services is considerably more complex than in goods. There are four modes of supply (not just one), classification into sectors, sub-sectors, and sub-sub-sectors is not algorithmic, barriers are broad, deep, and sometimes non-transparent, and sensitive issues of regulatory standards and cultural protection are implicated. With the death of the Doha Round, efforts at a multilateral GATS Plus agreement have failed. Negotiations have shifted to two other venues: plurilateral, through a proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TISA); and regional, through ambitious FTAs like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). In these venues, there are different views on how fast and far to create free trade in services. Some countries, bolstered by internationally competitive services suppliers, are frustrated at the slow pace of talks and seek ambitious liberalization. Others face domestic political and economic impediments to rapid opening some of their services markets. Still others recall being dominated in industrial markets during much of the 20th century, and now worry about being dominated in services markets in the 21st century. This panel will identify the current status of trade liberalisation in services, and highlight successes and hurdles to GATS Plus outcomes. It will spotlight key sectors, such as legal, transportation, telecommunication, and finance. This panel will explore these and related questions. 

Topic 1: Rules of origin for services - Jesse Goldman

Topic 2: International trade in media and entertainment services - Sarah Schmidt

Topic 3: Services trade liberalization in TISA and TPP - Raj Bhala

Topic 4: Services trade liberalization in APEC, ASEAN, and RCEP - Shigehiko Ishimoto

Topic 5: Services trade liberalization in developing and least developed countries - Jeffrey Snyder


  • Ngosong Fonkem, Alta Resources Corp


  • Raj Bhala, University of Kansas, School of Law
  • Jesse Goldman, Bennett Jones LLP
  • Shigehiko Ishimoto, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto
  • Sarah Schmidt, MBC FZ LLC
  • Jeffrey Snyder, Crowell & Moring LLP


Supported by

NZ Law Society

Supported by


Supported by

100% Pure New Zealand

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