NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Economic Structure of International Trade-in-Services Agreements

Robert W. Staiger, Alan O. Sykes

NBER Working Paper No. 22960
Issued in December 2016
NBER Program(s):   ITI

The existing economics literature on international trade agreements focuses on tariff agreements covering trade in goods, and offers an explanation for core features of the GATT. Tariffs play almost no role in services markets, however, and the existing models cannot account for the dramatically different approach to trade liberalization in agreements such as the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). We develop a model through which key features of GATS, including its emphasis on "deep integration" – sector-by-sector negotiations on behind the border policy instruments – can be understood. And we use this model to suggest that there may also be a middle ground for services trade liberalization between the GATS deep-integration approach and the traditional border-policy focused "shallow integration" approach of GATT.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22960

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