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Services liberalization in transition economies: The case of North and Central Asia

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This paper offers a review, analysis and assessment of the status of services liberalization in North and Central Asia. Following a brief introduction about the region and its economic context, this study provides an overview of the binding commitments undertaken by transition economies under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and an evaluation of how they compare to domestic policy reform, with a focus on the three transition economies that most recently acceded to the WTO: Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan. It proceeds to explore the scope of interest in services liberalization in North and Central Asia, highlighting the reasons behind the relative little attention so far received by the services sector in the region. This is followed by an assessment of the role that foreign direct investments can play in improving the treatment of foreign services suppliers and modernize services, and an illustration of how to prioritize services sectors for higher value-added participation in global value chains. The paper concludes by offering a number of policy recommendations to support services liberalization with a view to diversify the economy, speed up the transition process and improve the overall standing of North and Central Asian countries in the world economy.

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