Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Ideas, interests, and institutionalization: “trade in services” and the Uruguay Round


After much deliberation, member governments of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) agreed to pursue a new regime for international trade in services as part of the Uruguay Round negotiations begun in 1986. The talks have produced a draft agreement—the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)—which, if ratified, could have important implications for the world economy. But when the question of trade in services first arose, most governments did not understand the issues or know whether a multilateral agreement would be to their advantage. If anything, their existing national interests and institutions seemed contrary to the goal of liberalizing trade in services. This article argues that an epistemic community of services experts played a crucial role in clarifying and framing the complex issue of trade in services and placing it on the global agenda. Through their analyses of the services issues and their interactions with policymakers, the epistemic community members were able to convince governments that international services transactions had common trade properties and that the liberalization of services through removal of nontariff barriers was potentially advantageous to developing as well as developed countries. In addition to fostering international negotiations within the GATT forum and helping states redefine their interests, the community members were instrumental in specifying a range of policy options to be considered. However, once governments understood their interests and domestic constituencies were mobilized, their policy choices were influenced more by power and bargaining dynamics than by continuing, direct epistemic community influence.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

T. P. Hill , “On Goods and Services,” Review of Income and Wealth 23 (121977), p. 318.

Herbert G. Grubel , “All Traded Services Are Embodied in Materials or People,” The World Economy 10 (091987), pp. 319–30.

Brian Griffiths , Invisible Barriers to Invisible Trade (London: Macmillan, 1975)

William E. Brock , in his article entitled “A Simple Plan for Negotiating on Trade in Services,” The World Economy 5 (111982), pp. 229–40

Brian Hindley and Alasdair Smith , “Comparative Advantage and Trade in Services,” The World Economy 7 (121984), pp. 369–90;

Harald B. Malmgren , “Negotiating International Rules for Trade in Services,” The World Economy 8 (031985), pp. 1126

Jeffrey J. Schott , “Protectionist Threat to Trade and Investment in Services,” The World Economy 6 (061983), pp. 195214

S. Schultz , “Trade in Services: Its Treatment in International Forums and the Problems Ahead,” Intereconomics, 11-121984, pp. 267–73.

Wilson P. Dizard , “U.S. Competitiveness in International Information Trade,” The Information Society, vol. 2, nos. 3 and 4, 1984, pp. 179216

Geza Feketekuty and Kathryn Hauser , “A Trade Perspective on International Telecommunications Issues,” Telematics and Informatics, vol. 1, no. 4, 1984, pp. 359–69;

Gary P. Sampson and Richard H. Snape's Identifying the Issues in Trade in Services,” The World Economy 8 (061985), pp. 171–82

Frieder Roessler , “The Scope, Limits and Function of the GATT Legal System,” The World Economy 8 (091985), pp. 287–98;

Splintering and Disembodiment of Services and Developing Countries,” The World Economy 7 (061984), pp. 133–44;

Why Are Services Cheaper in the Poor Countries?Economic Journal 94 (061984), pp. 279–86;

Andre Sapir , “North-South Issues in Trade in Services,” The World Economy 8 (031985), pp. 2742

Jacques Nusbaumer , Services in the Global Market (Hingham, Mass.: Kluwer, 1987)

Seev Hirsch , “A Service or Not a Service: Defining the Question by Its Terms,” The World Economy 11 (121988), pp. 565–67;

Bernard M. Hoekman , “Services as the Quid Pro Quo for a Safeguards Code,” The World Economy 11 (061988), pp. 203–16;

Robert M. Stern and Bernard M. Hoekman , “Issues and Data Needs for GATT Negotiations on Services,” The World Economy 10 (031987), pp. 3960.

Constructing a Constitution for Trade in Services,” The World Economy 11 (061988), pp. 187202

Peter F. Cowhey , “The International Telecommunications Regime: The Political Roots of Regimes for High Technology,” International Organization 44 (Spring1990), pp. 169–99;

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 68 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 247 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st July 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.