In Norway, no foreign insurance company has been granted a license to do business for 40 years.
Brazil requires all accountants to have a degree from a Brazilian university.
In West Germany, fashion and photographic models may only be hired through German agencies.
Argentina forbids the use of television commercials produced outside the country.
Australia has limited foreign banks to representative offices, not full-scale branches, since 1945.
Next month, at a major international trade conference in Geneva, the United States will ask for worldwide negotiations toward lowering these and thousands of other barriers to trade in services. The United States is seeking a radical change in the regulations that govern world trade, asking that they be applied to services such as banking and insurance, as well as commodities and manufactured goods.
As a free-trading nation under an administration that espouses a free-trade philosophy, the United States wants other nations to permit American firms to operate abroad as freely as foreign firms can operate here. At the ministerial meeting of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the American delegation will try to start that process, in the face of deep reluctance among some of this country's trading partners.
Cheering from the sidelines will be a coalition of giant corporations whose output is not tools or grain or equipment, but ideas, paperwork, and management techniques, the new staples of U.S. economic power.
These corporations -- American Express, Sears, Roebuck & Co., the Bechtel Group Inc., Beneficial Finance Corp., CBS Inc., American Telephone & Telegraph Co. and a dozen others of similar size -- say they are running up against a growing system of obstacles and restrictions in foreign countries that limit their penetration of markets abroad.
Working together through a group they call the Coalition of Service Industries Inc., they are seeking expansion of the regulatory framework of the GATT to bring down those barriers.
According to a "White Paper" on service trade published in September by the Georgetown University Center for Strategic and International Studies, the coalition's campaign is not special pleading but a legitimate response to a growing problem.
"U.S. service industries are encountering growing barriers in both developing and industrial countries," the paper said. "Furthermore, barriers are looming over some of the newer, previously unrestricted, and highest-potential service activities related to information transmittal, such as electronic and satellite communication. Discouraging the imposition of barriers on the transmission of information across national boundaries is an issue that transcends the concern of the service sector; it is vitally important not only to the well-being of of the U.S. economy but to the world economy."
The Reagan administration is in full agreement, and will carry the banner of the service industries at the GATT ministerial meeting.
"It's one of our highest priorities for the meeting," said Geza Feketekuty, senior assistant U.S. trade representative for trade policy, development and coordination. "We have been talking about it actively for the last year and a half, and we have had teams circling the world" in preparation for the conference.
According to Joseph Neubauer, president of ARA Services Inc., a service conglomerate and member of the industry coalition, the GATT conference represents "a once in a decade opportunity to herald the importance of the service sector and the need for the GATT to begin earnestly a work program in this area."
But it is not clear that a majority of GATT nations are prepared, politically or psychologically, to accept the principle that the GATT's international framework regulating trade in "products" should be applied to intangibles. GATT rules that prohibit, for example, subsidies of agricultural products if the purpose of the subsidies is to increase export market share are not easily applicable to trade in accounting or in engineering consulting, trade experts say.
The United States is expected to have strong support from Great Britain in its attempt to set up international rules governing service trade, but it appears unlikely that it will succeed in opening full-scale negotiations of the type that led to GATT agreements on merchandise and commodity trade.
A majority of the 86 GATT member nations "are not going to agree to hold multilateral trade negotiations on services," said Ronald K. Shelp, a vice president of the American International insurance group and a leading expert on service trade. "They are, I think, going to agree on a work program, to think about what the problems are." Even that would represent progress, he said, because "when I first started talking about this in 1974, people would throw me out of their offices."
That "work program," according to the Georgetown White Paper, should include not just agreement on lowering of tariff barriers but acceptance of general principles according to which nontariff barriers also would eventually be removed. This approach recognizes that protectionist sentiment, years of habit, and strong international fear of the economic power of the U.S. service industries cannot be swept away overnight.
The reason for the U.S. push toward liberalization of worldwide trade in such services as accounting, insurance, consulting, health care, transportation, banking and communications is that these -- not farming or manufacturing -- are now the mainstays of the American economy. From the American point of view, existing international trade agreements are outdated because they deal with agricultural and manufactured goods, not with the new intangible commodities that dominate this country's export trade.
"We just don't have a smokestack economy any more," said Richard Rivers, Washington attorney for the industry coalition. "A lot of people believe the future lies in knowledge-intensive industries, in technology, in issues of transborder data flow. If you envision, as American Express does, an economy where in 1990 your Gold Card will allow you access to a whole range of services and information worldwide, there are no international rules for this."
Rivers, who was counsel to former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Strauss during the "Tokyo Round" of trade negotiations, is now a partner in the Washington office of Strauss' law firm. He said that even though U.S. corporations are now dominant in worldwide service trades, "the feeling is that we better get some regs on the books or protectionist measures will proliferate, and where will we be in 1992?"
Government statistics confirm Rivers' contention that service trades are now the dominant component of the economy. About 60 percent of all private-sector jobs are in service-related industries, and their output represents about two-thirds of the gross national product. A recent study by the U.S. International Trade Commission estimated that 1982 foreign revenues of 14 service industries in the United States were $135.7 billion, up 52 percent from two years earlier.
The administration and the service industries coalition are supporting legislation pending in Congress that would specifically require the government to negotiate a new set of service trade regulations, and would strengthen the authority of the president to retaliate against other nations that impose restrictions on U.S. service corporations.
Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.), a leading supporter of the measure, said it was "definitely not protectionist legislation. The intent is the contrary, to lay the groundwork for negotiations with our trading partners to ensure that barriers are not created. I feel strongly that services are an area of great opportunity, and we have to lay the groundwork for a GATT-type framework to be created."
That legislation cannot be enacted before the GATT meeting, but Feketekuty said it would be helpful afterward, if negotiations take place, because it would "help us become more effective negotiating partners. It tells other countries, 'If you don't negotiate multilaterally, we will arm ourselves with the tools to defend ourselves.' "