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Project Description Print


As the services sector employs more than 60% of the work force in industrial economies and an ever growing share of international trade and investment, an evolving set of rules for international trade in services will need to take into account societal concerns, such as the programme of ensuring full employment with a view to raising Member States’ standards of living proposed in the first paragraph of the preamble to the WTO (Marrakesh) Agreement. In addition to promoting the progressive opening of more service sectors and deepening the level of liberalization already achieved, the scope of the rules and obligations of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) need to evolve in the light of emerging regulatory and societal preferences and concerns, such as equity, sustainability and the need to meet the challenges of population ageing, growing international factor flows (people and capital) and new technology. At the same time, the negotiating positions of developing countries, including their quest for broader access to industrialized countries’ labour markets and identifying export markets for services, will need to be aligned with industrialized country interests, such as greater flows of foreign direct investment in developing economies.

Specific Research Areas
Emerging areas of services trade explored under IP8 will include:

  • researching the reconciliation between different concepts of economic needs tests (ENTs) for the regulation/licensing of professional services, including financial services 

  • clarifying the relationship between the settlement of investment disputes in services under the WTO and ICSID

  • assessing the contrasting nature and level of liberalization of services supplied through the temporary movement of natural persons (TMNP) in GATS mode 4 with regional and bilateral labour market liberalization agreements

  • identifying linkages between human rights violations and the negotiated level of liberalized services commitments in WTO Member countries.

Interdisciplinary Focus

IP8 explores the underlying economic and legal foundations of services trade, including the socio-economic aspects of labour migration, taking into account issues of political feasibility, such as deference to domestic regulation and the need for progressive liberalization both in market opening terms and in the rules governing  competitive market access and non-discriminatory market conditions.


IP8 research aims to assess the degree of openness achieved under the GATS and in various preferential trade and investment agreements covering services. It will examine the systemic implications of evolving GATS jurisprudence (US-Gambling, Mexico-Telecoms). It will also be assessing the unfinished GATS rule-making agenda in areas such as non-discriminatory domestic regulation, emergency safeguard measures and services-related subsidies. It will explore emerging lessons in services-related investment disputes under state-to-state and investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanisms, and explore the integration of competition policy into services rule-making. It will also explore how best to broaden liberalization commitments with regards to the mobility of service providers at varying skill levels at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.


IP 8 presents its preliminary research results in NCCR working papers and at various seminars and international conferences. The research team publishes final results in peer reviewed journals and leading publications and edits conference volumes with leading publishers. At a later stage, team members will begin to formulate policy recommendations for adoption in preferential agreements and at the multilateral level pertaining to their respective fields of research.

Focus of Individual Researchers

Pierre Sauvé, Project Leader
Comparative regionalism in services rule-making. Treatment of temporary movement of service suppliers in trade and non-trade agreements, e.g. FTAs, RIAs, bilateral guest worker programmes and labour market agreements (Art. Vbis GATS) and within the GATS mode 4. Regional rules on investment and their application to foreign direct investment (FDI) in services. More...

Marion Panizzon, Alternate Project Leader
International law of labour migration and its ethical and constitutional foundations. GATS Mode 4 and the advancement of an international right to migrate. Swiss unilateral guest worker schemes and bilateral labour market agreements, their conflicts and convergence with the free movement clause under the Swiss-EU bilateral agreements. More...

Panagiotis Delimatsis, Post-Doctoral Fellow
Coherent factor mobility regulation through effective domestic regulatory reform in the GATS. Development of horizontal disciplines for domestic services regulations under Article VI.4 GATS. GATS principles of transparency and effectiveness of domestic regulation and potential for reforming regulatory jurisdiction according to emerging concepts of subsidiarity, good governance and positive harmonization. Principles of due process and “good” regulation in the services realm. Effects of GATS Art. VI measures on factor mobility (capital and labour). Sectoral approach to domestic regulation relating to prudential standards in financial services. More...

Martín Molinuevo, Doctoral Fellow
Dispute settlement in services. International fora involved in the resolution of trade in services disputes. GATS disputes in the context of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.  The law and jurisprudence of international arbitration courts settling disputes over services trade (ICSID, arbitration process under UNCITRAL). Identify the patterns of rule-making for FDI in services, its disciplines and impediments at different levels of international regulation (bilateral, regional, multilateral). Services and investment agreement in East Asia and Latin America as sample regions.  More...

Nicolas Diebold, Doctoral Fellow
Taking into account experience in GATT and other agreements, Nicolas’ Ph.D. will analyse the competition-related provisions in GATS. It will look into the role of competition policy concepts on the determinations of "likeness" of services and service suppliers. The relationship of competition and trade regulation in GATS (government measures, market access and private conduct by operators) will be analyzed in view of creating rules monitoring a relationship of equal conditions of competition between foreign and domestic services and service suppliers in GATS. More...

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