Land transport

The land transport sector covers a wide range of activities which often have little in common. Thus, some types of transport are highly capital-intensive (rail transport, pipelines), whereas others require relatively little investment (taxis, trucks, even coaches). Some employ large numbers of people (rail transport, for example, where a single company may employ as many as several hundred thousand people, taxis, HGVs), whereas in other cases labour costs are of only marginal importance (pipelines).

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Moreover, some of these activities take place within a regulatory context characterized by planning considerations and the need to provide a public or universal service (urban public transport, passenger rail transport), whereas others are clearly treated as purely market activities (pipelines, freight transport by road and rail). The degree of concentration is also extremely variable.  Some activities are in the hands of monopolies or oligopolies (pipelines, rail transport), while others may be carried out by companies of various sizes or even by individuals (taxis, urban and suburban road passenger transport, road haulage). In view of this diversity the economic and regulatory characteristics can only be described subsector by subsector.

Land transport services in general are described in document S/C/W/60, whereas aspects specific to rail transport are addressed in document S/C/W/61.

The description of road freight transport services has been recently updated, in document S/C/W/324 (coming soon). In addition, in order to gain a better understanding of the international road transport regulations, in 2009 the WTO Secretariat, the International Transport Forum, the World Bank and the International Road Transport Union made a systematic effort to collect bilateral road freight transport agreements and have so far collected over 600. The text of these agreements is contained in the LIBRA (List of Bilateral Road Agreements) database, which is freely accessible to the general public.


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Current commitments and exemptions

For consolidated information on countries’ commitments and exemptions on land transport, go to the services database. If you are seeking the commitments of a specific WTO member, go to “Jump to a specific sector for a given Member”, select Road transport services from the sector dropdown list, select the Member of interest and click “go”. To see a table showing which Members have made commitments in Road transport services choose “See which Members have made commitments in a specific sector”, select Road transport services and click “go”.


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Current negotiations 

The principles of the trade in land transport services are contained, as for all services, in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).


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Official documents  

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  • Secretariat background paper on land transport services (Document code S/* and keyword “Land Transport services or Road Freight Transport Services or Road Transport Services and Background Note”)  > search   > help
  • General documents on land transport services  > search   > help

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