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General Agreement on Trade in Services: 
A Resource for Librarians


What is GATS?

History of GATS

Present of GATS

GATS &  Gov't Services

WTO &  Gov't Services

Application of Regulations

Libraries as a Cultural Industry

Protecting Culture

Concerns for Libraries


Works Cited


So...What Is GATS?

GATS is the General Agreement on Trade in Services. It is an international treaty established in 1995 that regulates the trade in services between countries. GATS is part of a movement by governments to liberalize trade and remove barriers which stop the flow of trade in services across national borders.

GATS was created through the Uruguay Round of Negotitations that also established the World Trade Organization (WTO) which is the administrative body for international trade agreements. As of February 2003, there were 145 member governments in the WTO. The list of members continues to grow as membership provides countries with increased opportunities to pursue trade agreements. The WTO administers the GATS agreement and can enforce its rulings in trade disputes by setting fines and issuing directions with with governments must comply . Because of the WTO's power, GATS was the first legally enforceable international trade treaty in the world.

GATS is not a finished agreement. Although parts of GATS have completed negotiations and are binding to all WTO members, other parts are still being negotiated. The parts currently being discussed include commitments to specific areas of trade that are negotiated between members and are not universally applied to all members. In fact, rounds of negotiations to expand trade in services are and will be ongoing. The current round is due to be completed on January 1, 2005.

Site created by Sandra Anderson in April, 2003 as part of
LIS 583 - Globalization, Diversity and Information, a course offered at the
School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta.
Please send all feedback about this site to Sandra Anderson