The Genesis of the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services)
The Uruguay Round services negotiations saw the light of day amidst pressures from lobbies in developed countries, unilateral retaliatory actions, and ideological struggle in the developing world. The final outcome, the GATS, certainly characterized by a complex structure and awkward drafting here and there, is not optimal but is an important first step towards the liberalization of trade in services. This article traces the GATS negotiating history, from its very beginning in the late 1970s, paying particular attention to the main forces that brought the services dossier to the multilateral trading system (governments, industries, and academics), and the interaction between developed and developing countries before and during the Uruguay Round. We will follow the actions, positions, and negotiating stances of four trading partners – Brazil, the European Union, India, and the United States – that were key in the development of the GATS. Finally, we will, indicatively at least, try to attribute a 'paternity' (or, rather, a 'maternity') to some key features and provisions of the agreement.