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AfricaMoney | August 20, 2017

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Mauritius is first African nation to join WTO Trade in Services Agreement negotiations

Mauritius is first African nation to join WTO Trade in Services Agreement negotiations

On joining the Trade in Services Agreement, Mauritius will offer the same market access conditions to World Trade Organisation Members, as those proposed to the EU in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement.(Image: ICTSD)

Mauritius will join the Trade in Services Agreement Negotiations, in line with the General Agreement of Trade in Services (GATS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), making it the first African country to do so. This is in accordance with a decision published last week by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet.
 
On joining the Trade in Services Agreement, Mauritius will offer the same market access conditions to World Trade Organisation Members, as those proposed to the EU in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement.
 
The GATS, an integral part of the WTO, calls upon member states to progressively liberalise trade in services through successive rounds of negotiations.
 
In the current context, twenty-four countries (comprising Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, the EU, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Switzerland, Turkey, the US and Uruguay), two customs territories, and one economic union – the European Union – have decided to proceed with a plurilateral approach through the negotiation of a Trade in Services Agreement.

It may be noted that, during their latest round of talks in February, negotiators welcomed Uruguay as the 24th participant. China’s request to join the services talks remains pending.
 
To give the historical context, the creation of the GATS was one of the landmark achievements of the Uruguay Round, whose results entered into force in January 1995.
 
The GATS was inspired by essentially the same objectives as its counterpart in merchandise trade, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), creating a credible and reliable system of international trade rules; ensuring fair and equitable treatment of all participants (principle of non-discrimination); stimulating economic activity through guaranteed policy bindings; and promoting trade and development through progressive liberalisation.
 
Mauritius has been a WTO member since 1 January 1995 and a member of GATT since 2 September 1970.

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