The General Council is taking appropriate steps for consultation and cooperation with the United Nations and its specialized institutions, as well as with other intergovernmental organizations specializing in services. The liberalization of trade in services is particularly complex because services are regulated by governments in order to meet a wide range of national policy objectives such as health and safety. Such regulation has an impact on the degree of free service delivery. The governments of WTO member states are required to ensure that all laws, regulations, rules, procedures, decisions and national administrative measures relating to trade in services are managed in a “reasonable, objective and impartial” manner. Member State governments are also supposed to have courts, arbitration tribunals or administrative tribunals to which service providers can apply for a prompt review of administrative decisions and, where appropriate, appropriate remedies. 1. This agreement does not prevent any of its members from being a party to a service liberalisation agreement between or between the parties to such an agreement or from concluding an agreement, provided that such an agreement: negotiations on services: WTO members continue talks with a view to continuing negotiations with a view to achieving a higher level of liberalisation , as provided for in Article XIX of the GATS. MEPs also negotiate national regulation in the services sector. Exceptions may be granted in the form of Article II exceptions. Members could apply for such exemptions before the agreement came into force. New derogations may only be granted to new members at the time of accession or, in the case of current members, by a derogation under Article IX:3 of the WTO agreement.

All exceptions are subject to review; they should not, in principle, last more than 10 years. In addition, the GATS allows groups of members to enter into economic integration agreements or to mutually recognize regulatory standards, certificates and others when certain conditions are met. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the first applicable multilateral agreement, covering trade in services and investment in the services sector. It was signed in 1995 and aims to prevent the free movement of services or to discriminate, reduce or eliminate local service companies with foreign goods. The overall GATS framework consists of a preamble and 28 articles, followed by eight annexes, eight ministerial statements and decisions, and an “agreement” on financial services. Most annexes contain specific provisions for certain sectors, while declarations and decisions deal with general institutional issues such as the creation of working groups, work programmes, mandates, etc. The various national commitment plans and a consolidated European Union timetable are included in an “annex” to the framework. Several countries have also submitted lists of exceptions to the MFN, as well as their timetables. Finally, some instruments outside the GATS, such as the Dispute Settlement Agreement and some institutional provisions of the WTO agreement itself, are also considered part of the WTO package.

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