Workshop Trade in Services

Coherence and Divergence in Agreements on Trade in Services

International Workshop

14 and 15 March 2019, Erlangen, Germany


A quarter of a century after the conclusion of the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS), the international law on trade in services remains in a state of flux: On the one side, countries increasingly conclude bilateral and regional trade agreements with chapters on trade in services which aim at a further liberalisation of services trade. On the other side, the GATS structure still remains the dominant model and serves as a basis of many preferential trade agreements. Yet, new aspects such as electronic commerce and digital trade, data protection, energy services and taxation emerge while issues, which already existed in the mid-1990s such as financial services regulation, labour mobility, services standards and sustainable development, continue to be of current concern.

The usual debate focusses on the question if preferential trade agreements serve as a stepping-stone or stumbling block for trade liberalisation at the multilateral level. However, rules on trade in services in preferential trade agreements will coexist with the global GATS regime for the foreseeable future. This raises the question if we are currently witnessing a drive towards greater coherence or more divergence in agreements on trade in services.

This question will be discussed at an international workhop on 14 and 15 Match 2019. The workshop presentations will discuss if the differences and similarities (if any) are evidence of greater coherence or greater divergence. Combining the different analyses will then lead to a more comprehensive picture of the current law on services trade liberalisation.


If you are interested in participating please write to Rhea Hoffmann ( or Markus Krajewski (

The workshop is supported by the Dr. German Schweiger-Stiftung and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.