Discussion Papers

Hilke Smit

Die Anwendung der GATS-Prinzipien auf dem Postsektor und Auswirkungen auf die nationale Regulierung
Nr. 205 / Mai 2000

Summary

The GATS is an integral part of the WTO and provides a general framework to promote a progressive liberalisation of trade in services. The aim of this study is to analyse possibilities and problems as well as consequences of the application of the GATS principles to the postal sector. Furthermore, it will be discussed whether the GATS framework can be seen as a catalyst for the liberalisation process in the countries.

One important element of the GATS framework are the general principles. These comprise the most favoured nation principle, the transparency principle as well as the general rules for domestic regulations. These general principles have to be applied by the countries whether they have made specific commitments or not as soon as a country has become a WTO member. Because of this, already today they have to be followed. The impact of the general principles of the GATS on the liberalisation process within the countries lies in the creation of a common framework for international trade of services, the disclosure of remaining market entry barriers in order to provide a basis for negotiation as well as in an automatic spreading of trade advantages concerning the market access all over the member countries.

The principles of market access and national treatment are only binding for the member states in case that the service has been bound in the schedule of specific commitments. The success of the negotiations about these specific commitments heavily depends on the clarification of certain problem areas. Firstly, a pricise classification scheme for postal services has to be developed to make sure that commitments are unmistakable and transparent. Secondly, it has to be agreed on a clear interpretation of the application of the four modes of supply in the context of the postal sector. Only if the framework for the commitments is clearly defined there is a chance that market access will be granted by the countries.

The schedules of specific commitments leaves it up to the countries to decide on the degree of market openness in the postal market and thus provides for the possibility to adapt the commitments to the national liberalisation preferences. There is no binding obligation for the member states to open up their postal markets and to guarantee a national treatment for foreign suppliers. Consequently, the impact of the GATS on the international liberalisation process is up to the success of the multilateral negotiation. The crucial advantage of the GATS is that it binds the countries to a chosen level of liberalisation and provides for periodical discussions on a further opening of the markets. To enhance the conditions for a liberal and competitive postal market it can be agreed on additional commitments.

Only German language version available.

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