The GATS contains both a general framework of obligations that apply to all services and to all WTO member countries, as well a set of negotiated commitments which specify treatment for activities falling within a specific sector or sectors reflecting each individual Member’s national policy objectives and constraints.
Obligations of general application include Most-Favoured-Nation Treatment (meaning essentially that any benefit extended to one trading partner must be extended equally to all WTO Members), and Transparency (requiring that information on measures affecting trade in services be published or otherwise made available). Disciplines relating to the operation of Monopolies and Exclusive Suppliers are also generally applicable obligations under the GATS.
Beyond such horizontal disciplines, the GATS also contains several provisions which require Members to negotiate commitments in specified sectors. These commitments include Market Access (requiring each Member to give no less favourable treatment to the services and service suppliers of other Members than is provided in its Schedule of Commitments) and National Treatment (each Member shall give treatment to foreign services and service suppliers treatment no less favourable than it gives to its own services and suppliers). These commitments are subject to conditions and qualifications as set out in each Member’s Schedule of Specific Commitments.
For additional information, please read How to read a GATS Schedule
Canada has undertaken a range of specific commitments under the GATS, as set out in its Schedule of Specific Commitments. Sectors covered include:
The number of sectors covered in Canada’s Schedule of Specific Commitments reflects the fact that Canada is one of the most open services economy in the world. At the same time, however, Canada has reserved its right to maintain certain measures that are not consistent with the market access and national treatment obligations of the GATS. Canada’s Schedule, therefore, specifies certain limitations in some sectors where commitments have been made. In addition, Canada has not taken any GATS commitments for health, public education, social services and culture.