ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Implications for Social Policy-Making

General Agreement on Trade in Services

Concerns have been voiced about the WTO's encroachment into social service sectors such as health, education, and environment under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and how this may undermine national sovereignty and autonomy in social policy-making. However, most of these concerns stem from misunderstandings and lack of information about the liberalisation process under the GATS. This paper tries to dispel such unwarranted fears by highlighting the GATS' commitment structure and framework and explaining how countries can retain their autonomy in social policy-making under the GATS. However, it also points out some problem areas in this regard, tracing their source to various ambiguities and weaknesses in the GATS framework. The paper highlights the need to use the ongoing GATS 2000 negotiations effectively so as to strengthen the GATS framework and address these problematic issues.

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