What is the GATS?
The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) forms together with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 94) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) one of the three pillars of the World Trade Organization (WTO') multilateral trading system.
The GATS basically applies to all service sectors and to all types of service supplies (cross-border supply, consumption abroad, commercial presence abroad, supply of services by natural persons abroad). The Agreement lays down the general rules and obligations for trade in services, in particular the most-favoured-nation obligation and the principles of proportionality and transparency . With respect to the latter Members have to publish and notify measures affecting trade in services.
The annexes to the Agreement contain clarifications and specific provisions relating to natural persons supplying services, air transport services, financial services, maritime transport services and telecommunications services. The lists of commitments and the lists of exemptions from the most-favoured-nation obligation of the Members contain the specific market access rights for foreign service suppliers. Each Member inscribes in its list those service sectors, in which it grants market access to foreign suppliers and sets out quantitative restrictions (quotas, need clauses, monopolies), limitations on the form of juridical persons and on foreign participation in corporate capital as well asreservations on national treatment.
The consolidated schedule of specific commitments of Switzerland is available below. . It contains the commitments from the Uruguay Round concluded in 1994 as well as from subsequent negotiations thereafter.
Doha Development Round
Negotiations resumed in 2001 within the framework of the Doha Round, the so-called Doha Development Round. The aim was to further liberalise trade and better integrate developing countries - especially the least developed countries (LDCs) - into the multilateral trading system. Members submitted to each other their requests and offers regarding market access.
Although negotiations of the Doha Round have been blocked for several years, Some Members, including Switzerland, committed from 2014 on to grant to LDCs preferential market access. The notification and commitments of Switzerland in favour of LDCs are available below.
Review of Swiss trade policy
Switzerland is subject to a trade policy review every four years by the WTO. The last review was completed in September 2017. The section on services is available below.