Commonwealth Trade Hot Topics

The Trade Hot Topics series provides concise and informative analyses of various trade and trade-related issues which are prepared both by Commonwealth Secretariat and international experts.


Commonwealth Developing Countries and the WTO Telecommunications Regime

The importance of the telecommunications sector to Commonwealth developing countries cannot be overemphasised, since it plays a crucial role in facilitating trade and economic development. The telecommunications service sector of a state, which previously seemed far removed from trade law and policy, is now fully integrated into the multilateral trading system as one part of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). In the Commonwealth, 29 out of a 54 member countries have made varying degrees of GATS commitments in the telecommunications sector.

This issue of Trade Hot Topics explains briefly the main elements of the GATS and the 1997 WTO Telecommunications Agreement. It identifies the types of problems that developing countries may face when implementing the GATS in the area of telecommunications by examining how commitments affect domestic incumbent telecommunications operators. It also identifies some of the issues of concern to developing countries in the current GATS negotiations.


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