GATS: death by complication? Moulis Legal presents on services trade liberalisation at CLA conference
Moulis Legal lawyers Daniel Moulis, Anna Plotkin and Jun Wang participated in the interesting and topical Commercial Practice in a Global Economy conference in Sydney on 1 August 2008, hosted by the Commercial Law Association of Australia in conjunction with the Ross Parsons Centre of Commercial, Corporate and Taxation Law of the University of Sydney.
In commenting on a paper presented by Dr Brett Williams on Obtaining Market Access for Australian Service Suppliers: Effective Use of the General Agreement on Trade in Services, Daniel Moulis offered the view that the “commercial presence” mode of providing services in overseas markets was the mode which deserved much closer attention, and stronger market opening efforts. He doubted the ability of the GATS to deliver the liberalisation sought by Australian companies in this regard, and suggested that advances in services access would be best approached through bilateral or regional treaties.
He also proposed that “commercial presence” be treated in an investment context, rather than in a multi-stranded “services” context, and that consideration be given to the negotiation of service provider-State rights, in the same way that investor-State rights have been created in bilateral investment treaties and FTAs. This would allow private parties to arbitrate any restrictions imposed by the government agencies of Australia’s trade partners on the level of services access agreed under the treaty concerned.
The conference also heard from other speakers and commentators on conducting business in China, the impact of GST and VAT on cross border transactions, and conflict of laws. The conference proceedings will be published by the Centre in due course.