Negotiations to expand commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) within the WTO have been under way since 2000. These GATS negotiations are expected to continue at least until the end of 2004. The GATS agreement covers a broad spectrum of services such as banking, computer services, tourism and transportation. GATS also applies to essential services, such as energy utilities and health care, which have been privatised or which are offered by private suppliers alongside public providers. As defined by GATS, trade in services means not only that services themselves cross borders, but that service suppliers (persons and companies) establish a commercial presence in another country, or that consumers of services travel abroad.

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