This paper focuses on whether a different approach taken towards GATS mode 4 negotiations
could generate more liberal commitments within the multilateral trading system which would
benefit low skilled workers. In principle, mode 4 is meant to facilitate cross-border movement
of all types of professions, regardless of their skill level. However, in practice WTO Members
have often refrained from making commitments orientated to benefitting low skilled workers.
This paper looks at the economic, political and legal concerns that exist due to the current
composition of GATS mode 4. It proposes a different approach to negotiations at the
multilateral level which allows for discussion on the regulation of the entry, stay and return of a
temporary migrant. Such an approach is controversial. It would require WTO Members to
discuss to a certain extent the labour standards to which temporary migrant workers would be
subjected. Still, this paper finds there are legally and politically feasible opportunities offered by
the current composition of the GATS allowing for the adoption of such a different approach.
Changes to the law are discussed that could better facilitate negotiations on mode 4
movement beneficial for low skilled workers. Suggestions are made why the adoption of this
different approach might be feasible in the current political climate. This paper’s objective is to
provide WTO Members with tools to further negotiate commitments more efficiently benefiting
the subset of low skilled workers within the multilateral trading system.