General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

The WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) aims to remove barriers to trade in services.

The GATS promotes the right of transnational corporations to invest in essential services like health, education and water, and reduces the rights of governments to regulate such services in the public interest.

GATS operates on a positive list basis, meaning that governments can nominate which services they want to include in the agreement. However, the aim is for governments to add more services over time, so GATS can potentially cover all service sectors.

Factsheet: Trading away our Services? How trade rules impact public and essential services

Everyone should have access to high quality, affordable and reliable public and essential services. Yet, trade agreements can impact on the way that our essential services are managed and can threaten the provision of quality public services like healthcare and education. 

AFTINET's factsheet Trading away our Services? How trade rules impact public and essential services explains how trade rules affect services, which services are impacted and how trade agreements can undermine the provision of quality public services. It calls for a trade system that supports governments to provide high quality, affordable and reliable public and essential services. To achieve this trade agreements must:

Governments push to regulate Big Tech companies amid COVID-19 economic shock

April 15, 2020: India imposed a sweeping new tax on digital goods and services on April 1, 2020, closely followed by an Indonesian move on April 7. Both countries noted the rapid increase in online activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns on physical contact between people.

The Indian government used its 2020 Budget to impose the 2 per cent tax on all goods and services sold online in India by companies that do not have a taxable presence in India. The threshold for sales is low, at US$267,000.

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