The International Bar Association (IBA) has published an updated edition of the IBA Guide to International Trade Agreements for IBA Member Bars (IBA GATS handbook).
The move reflects the significant shift that has occurred in the international trade landscape in the intervening decade since the release of the 2013 edition.
This updated guide aims to further legal professionals’ understanding of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) – a treaty of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that entered into force in 1995 – and of the consequences of other free-trade agreements that have been signed on a bilateral or regional basis.
As with prior editions, the latest IBA GATS handbook aims to provide practical assistance to Bars wishing to understand, and respond to, the international trade agreements signed by their respective governments.
There have been several developments, both within and outside of the WTO, that affect trade in legal services at both national and international levels.
The latest edition of the IBA GATS Handbook is based on research carried out by the IBA Bar Issues Commission’s International Trade in Legal Services Committee (IBA BIC ITILS) between November 2022 and January 2023.
The co-authors are Alison Hook, co-founder of Hook Tangaza, a legal-sector research and advisory consultancy, Laurel Terry, Professor of Law Emerita, Penn State Dickinson Law, and Jonathan Goldsmith, international legal-services consultant.
Co-author Alison Hook said: ‘The latest trade agreements being negotiated are unrecognisable from the past. The most ambitious include extensive chapters on regulatory co-operation, joint policy initiatives and co-operation in international rule-making bodies.
“This, along with the fact that the digital revolution is changing how cross-border trade in legal services is being done, means that Bars need to be on top of what is going on in this area or risk being side-lined.”