Innovations of Regionalism in Services in the Americas
NCCR Working Paper No 2011/41 by Sherry Stephenson and Maryse Robert
The Americas was the first of the world’s regions to embrace regionalism wholeheartedly and has remained at the forefront in developing innovative approaches to the treatment of services trade. The region has produced a major alternative to the liberalization of services trade in the form of the NAFTA template. A new generation of NAFTA-type agreements has also improved and strengthened the original template, incorporating key features of the WTO GATS for both cross-border trade in services and investment in services. The NAFTA template has also been carried around the world in numerous free trade agreements (FTAs) negotiated between countries of the Americas and extra-regional partners. This paper also shows that although assessing the impact of FTAs remains a complex issue, for those FTAs with an adequate dataset to merit an examination of trends, services trade has increased more between FTA partners than it has with the rest of the world after the entry into force of the agreements. Finally the increasing number of NAFTA-type agreements in the Americas has given also rise to a movement toward convergence and a rationalization of overlapping disciplines and market access opportunities. The paper concludes that the Americas continues to be at the forefront of experimentation in services rules, disciplines and liberalization.