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WTO: Understanding On Commitments In Financial Services
Participants in the Uruguay Round have been enabled to take on specific commitments with respect to financial services under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (hereinafter referred to as the "Agreement") on the basis of an alternative approach to that covered by the provisions of Part III of the Agreement. It was agreed that this approach could be applied subject to the following understanding:
(i) it does not conflict with the provisions of the Agreement;
(ii) it does not prejudice the right of any Member to schedule its specific commitments in accordance with the approach under Part III of the Agreement;
(iii) resulting specific commitments shall apply on a most-favoured-nation basis;
(iv) no presumption has been created as to the degree of liberalization to which a Member is committing itself under the Agreement.
Interested Members, on the basis of negotiations, and subject to conditions and qualifications where specified, have inscribed in their schedule specific commitments conforming to the approach set out below.
Any conditions, limitations and qualifications to the commitments noted below shall be limited to existing non-conforming measures.
B. Market Access
1. In addition to Article VIII of the Agreement, the following shall apply:
Each Member shall list in its schedule pertaining to financial services existing monopoly rights and shall endeavour to eliminate them or reduce their scope. Notwithstanding subparagraph 1(b) of the Annex on Financial Services, this paragraph applies to the activities referred to in subparagraph 1(b)(iii) of the Annex.
Financial Services purchased by Public Entities
2. Notwithstanding Article XIII of the Agreement, each Member shall ensure that financial service suppliers of any other Member established in its territory are accorded most-favoured-nation treatment and national treatment as regards the purchase or acquisition of financial services by public entities of the Member in its territory.
3. Each Member shall permit non-resident suppliers of financial services to supply, as a principal, through an intermediary or as an intermediary, and under terms and conditions that accord national treatment, the following services:
(a) insurance of risks relating to:
(i) maritime shipping and commercial aviation and space launching and freight (including satellites), with such insurance to cover any or all of the following: the goods being transported, the vehicle transporting the goods and any liability arising therefrom; and
(ii) goods in international transit;
(b) reinsurance and retrocession and the services auxiliary to insurance as referred to in subparagraph 5(a)(iv) of the Annex;
(c) provision and transfer of financial information and financial data processing as referred to in subparagraph 5(a)(xv) of the Annex and advisory and other auxiliary services, excluding intermediation, relating to banking and other financial services as referred to in subparagraph 5(a)(xvi) of the Annex.
4. Each Member shall permit its residents to purchase in the territory of any other Member the financial services indicated in:
(a) subparagraph 3(a);
(b) subparagraph 3(b); and
(c) subparagraphs 5(a)(v) to (xvi) of the Annex.
5. Each Member shall grant financial service suppliers of any other Member the right to establish or expand within its territory, including through the acquisition of existing enterprises, a commercial presence.
6. A Member may impose terms, conditions and procedures for authorization of the establishment and expansion of a commercial presence in so far as they do not circumvent the Member's obligation under paragraph 5 and they are consistent with the other obligations of the Agreement.
New Financial Services
7. A Member shall permit financial service suppliers of any other Member established in its territory to offer in its territory any new financial service.
Transfers of Information and Processing of Information
8. No Member shall take measures that prevent transfers of information or the processing of financial information, including transfers of data by electronic means, or that, subject to importation rules consistent with international agreements, prevent transfers of equipment, where such transfers of information, processing of financial information or transfers of equipment are necessary for the conduct of the ordinary business of a financial service supplier. Nothing in this paragraph restricts the right of a Member to protect personal data, personal privacy and the confidentiality of individual records and accounts so long as such right is not used to circumvent the provisions of the Agreement.
Temporary Entry of Personnel
9. (a) Each Member shall permit temporary entry into its territory of the following personnel of a financial service supplier of any other Member that is establishing or has established a commercial presence in the territory of the Member:
(i) senior managerial personnel possessing proprietary information essential to the establishment, control and operation of the services of the financial service supplier; and
(ii) specialists in the operation of the financial service supplier.
(b) Each Member shall permit, subject to the availability of qualified personnel in its territory, temporary entry into its territory of the following personnel associated with a commercial presence of a financial service supplier of any other Member:
(i) specialists in computer services, telecommunication services and accounts of the financial service supplier; and
(ii) actuarial and legal specialists.
10. Each Member shall endeavour to remove or to limit any significant adverse effects on financial service suppliers of any other Member of:
(a) non-discriminatory measures that prevent financial service suppliers from offering in the Member's territory, in the form determined by the Member, all the financial services permitted by the Member;
(b) non-discriminatory measures that limit the expansion of the activities of financial service suppliers into the entire territory of the Member;
(c) measures of a Member, when such a Member applies the same measures to the supply of both banking and securities services, and a financial service supplier of any other Member concentrates its activities in the provision of securities services; and
(d) other measures that, although respecting the provisions of the Agreement, affect adversely the ability of financial service suppliers of any other Member to operate, compete or enter the Member's market;
provided that any action taken under this paragraph would not unfairly discriminate against financial service suppliers of the Member taking such action.
11. With respect to the non-discriminatory measures referred to in subparagraphs 10(a) and (b), a Member shall endeavour not to limit or restrict the present degree of market opportunities nor the benefits already enjoyed by financial service suppliers of all other Members as a class in the territory of the Member, provided that this commitment does not result in unfair discrimination against financial service suppliers of the Member applying such measures.
C. National Treatment
1. Under terms and conditions that accord national treatment, each Member shall grant to financial service suppliers of any other Member established in its territory access to payment and clearing systems operated by public entities, and to official funding and refinancing facilities available in the normal course of ordinary business. This paragraph is not intended to confer access to the Member's lender of last resort facilities.
2. When membership or participation in, or access to, any self-regulatory body, securities or futures exchange or market, clearing agency, or any other organization or association, is required by a Member in order for financial service suppliers of any other Member to supply financial services on an equal basis with financial service suppliers of the Member, or when the Member provides directly or indirectly such entities, privileges or advantages in supplying financial services, the Member shall ensure that such entities accord national treatment to financial service suppliers of any other Member resident in the territory of the Member.
For the purposes of this approach:
1. A non-resident supplier of financial services is a financial service supplier of a Member which supplies a financial service into the territory of another Member from an establishment located in the territory of another Member, regardless of whether such a financial service supplier has or has not a commercial presence in the territory of the Member in which the financial service is supplied.
2. "Commercial presence" means an enterprise within a Member's territory for the supply of financial services and includes wholly- or partly-owned subsidiaries, joint ventures, partnerships, sole proprietorships, franchising operations, branches, agencies, representative offices or other organizations.
3. A new financial service is a service of a financial nature, including services related to existing and new products or the manner in which a product is delivered, that is not supplied by any financial service supplier in the territory of a particular Member but which is supplied in the territory of another Member.
The following links will take the viewer outside of the TARA Database.
Specific Commitments and Lists of Article II Exemptions (offsite link)
Fifth Protocol to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (offsite link)
Status of Acceptances to Fifth Protocol to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (offsite link)
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