LDCs in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

See here for market access provisions and the services waiver

The GATS provides that special priority shall be given to the LDC Members in the implementation of Article IV: 1 & 2. Article IV:1 states that the increasing participation of developing countries in world trade in services shall be facilitated through negotiated specific commitments relating to: (a) the strengthening of their domestic services capacity and its efficiency and competitiveness, inter alia through access to technology on a commercial basis; (b) the improvement of their access to distribution channels and information networks; and (c) the liberalization of market access in sectors and modes of supply of export interest to them.

LDC members were given special flexibility in terms of their services schedule commitments. Recently acceded LDCs have undertaken higher levels of commitments.

“The Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration adopted in 2005 stipulated that LDCs would not be expected to undertake new commitments in services negotiations.  Due to lack of conclusion of the Doha negotiations, the fact that LDCs were not expected to make new commitments has proven to be of limited practical use. Furthermore, since the Doha negotiations were expected to give special priority to LDC export interests, this part of the built-in development mandate of the GATS has likewise not been realized.” (WTO/EIF, 2020).

Graduation does not affect existing services commitments. “Graduating LDCs will not have to undertake new GATS commitments following graduation. They will continue to maintain the lower level of commitments they had undertaken during the Uruguay Round, although there is a wide variation in the number of GATS commitments among the graduating LDCs, and they also differ in terms of their services trade profile.” (WTO/EIF, 2020)