The General Agreement on Trade in Services
The General Agreement on Trade in Services is a multilateral framework agreement that dictates to government how it deals with suppliers of services, through legally enforceable constraints, backed up by international trade sanctions.
A ‘service’ is anything that is not a commodity. What it means, in effect, is that no country can bar a multi-national from investing within its sovereign territory and supplying services, whether or not it feels that this might be against the national interest and whether or not it raises moral or ethical objections to that ‘service’.
The large multi-national corporations are lobbying a select few international policy-makers, who are operating behind closed doors. The result is that people are generally unaware of this ‘spin-off' of GATT and its implications.
As with GATT, even if governments are unable to prevent certain things, the people are not. The spending pattern of the people will ultimately dictate policy, if the will is there. If people do their research and don’t buy in to certain services, then the multi-nationals will not provide them since it would be uneconomical so to do.
A great danger is the way in which Third World countries can be exploited, through both GATT and GATS and only consumer ethics and behaviour can correct this terrible injustice.
See also GATT