The liberalization of trade in telecommunications services
Trade in services is central to the world economy today. Telecommunications services, in particular, can be traded directly as well as providing a medium through which goods and other services can be traded. They are therefore critical to development and the expansion of world trade. This thesis provides a legal analysis of the liberalization of trade in telecommunications services through the multilateral framework of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). More specifically, it examines the interplay of multilateral rules and the domestic regulation of telecommunications in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the US, and India. The telecommunications industry has until recently been heavily regulated. Even in the US, the movement towards deregulation began only in the 1970s. An in depth examination of the US telecommunications industry in Chapter 2 provides a background analysis of the origin of policies on liberalization of telecommunications domestically and internationally. Chapter 3 examines the current importance of the service economy and the decision of the developed countries, in particular the US, to expand trade in services through liberalization. Chapters 3 and 4 illustrate the extent to which developed countries were the driving force for a multilateral framework within the WTO to govern trade in services, including telecommunications. Chapter 5 shows that developing countries, such as India, although demonstrating their recognition of the benefits of telecommunications liberalization through autonomous regulatory reforms, have so far been restrictive in their WTO services commitments. From this study, it is clear that the movement in both developed and developing countries is towards liberalization and competition. More specifically, the thesis demonstrates the extent to which trade liberalization together with domestic regulatory reform are necessary in order to achieve the liberalization of trade in telecommunications services.