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Addressing Domestic Regulation Affecting Trade in Services in CETA, CPTPP and USMCA: Revolution or Timid Steps?

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he number of international agreements purporting to liberalise trade, mainly focused on reducing protectionist measures through the imposition of general principles, has increased greatly over the last 25 years. More recently, the United States and the European Union (EU) concluded comprehensive agreements covering trade in goods, trade in services, and foreign investment. This article inquires whether, and the extent to which, such agreements represent a departure from previous practice. It focuses on (a) the instruments employed to address domestic regulation affecting trade in services and (b) three specific agreements concluded between 2016 and 2018: the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. While these recent Preferential Trade Agreements put forward novel approaches to regulatory diversity affecting trade in services, it is too early to ascertain whether these will have any ground-breaking impact in terms of services trade liberalisation.

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