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Trade in Services Agreement Could be Concluded by End of 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The 23 economies negotiating a Trade in Services Agreement have accelerated talks over the past several months and are working to conclude the agreement this year. According to a statement from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, TiSA draws its core obligations from the 1994 General Agreement on Trade in Services and will include market-opening commitments that parties provide to each other as well as additional commitments in service-specific chapters.

USTR states that the U.S. is pursuing the TiSA for three fundamental reasons. First, the services industry is vital to the U.S. economy, with services industries accounting for three-quarters of private industry GDP, four out of five jobs and about 30 percent of exports. Second, TiSA will help guarantee that U.S. suppliers can compete with foreign competitors on the basis of quality and competence rather than nationality. Third, TiSA aims to establish disciplines in new issues confronting the global marketplace such as restrictions on cross-border data flows and server localization requirements that can disrupt the supply of services over the Internet, forced transfers of technology, restrictions on the ability to make payments electronically, and unfair advantages that other governments provide to their state-owned enterprises.

At the same time, USTR states, participants will retain the ability to adopt or maintain regulations to protect public interest objectives such as health, safety and the environment. TiSA will not require any participant to privatize any service, nor will it prevent governments from expanding the range of services they supply to the public, including those that may have been privatized previously.

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