In This Review
GATS 2000: New Directions in Services Trade Liberalization

GATS 2000: New Directions in Services Trade Liberalization

Edited by Pierre Sauve and Robert M. Stern

Brookings Institution Press, 2000, 544 pp.

The failure to launch a new round of multilateral trade liberalization at the November 1999 meeting in Seattle indicates how contentious trade policy has become -- and how unprepared the trade ministers were. They would have benefited from these two books. GATS 2000 contains conference papers on how best to proceed with liberalization of international trade in services, an issue that was merely opened by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in the Uruguay Round concluded in 1994. It dissects the complex issues involved, including the extensive but varying degrees of national regulation, and contains thoughtful suggestions for the coming decade.

Another issue not fully addressed in the Uruguay Round is the rocky relationship between trade rules and environmental policy. Some environmentalists would like to use trade sanctions, which may conflict with international trade commitments, to further their environmental objectives. Sampson, a former WTO trade official, points out that the WTO requires that new concessions be reciprocated by concessions from the other side. Sympathetic to the concerns of environmentalists, he urges the negotiation of multilateral environmental agreements issue by issue, with disputes settled within the framework of those agreements; in turn, such agreements would be coordinated to harmonize with WTO rules. A thoughtful treatment of a sensitive topic.