Besides threatening the economy,
the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA),
also threatens public healthcare,
education, transportation, democracy
and jobs etc
The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) covers 50 countries and and 68.2% of the world's trade in services. Like the other corporate focused and driven trade deals, it threatens jobs, and the cost and availability of public services such as public healthcare, education, broadcasting, water, waste, transportation and policing.
The Trades in Services Agreement (TISA), is one of a number of trade deals being negotiated in secret between unelected trade representatives and elite corporations and the financial industry. The general public and most legislators have been deliberately denied access to information regarding the negotiations, let alone the opportunity to be consulted and provide public input - despite these deals having very serious impacts on the public of the countries involved.
The winners of such deals are usually powerful countries who are able to assert their power, multinational corporations who are best placed to exploit new access to markets, and wealthy consumers who can afford expensive foreign imports. The losers tend to be workers who face job losses and downward pressure on wages, users of public services and local small businesses which cannot compete with multinational corporations.
It's important for you to know about these trade deals - because of the potential for significant negative effects on the jobs, health, education and financial stability of you and your family; and because pressure from you and those you know upon legislators has the potential to stop these unfair secret agreements from being written into law.
Each trade agreement, cloaked in a veil of secrecy, becomes the floor for the next, so countries are in a state of perpetual negotiation and re-negotiation - as global corporations repeatedly attempt to wipe out regulations that protect the public from predatory practices, and exploit the changes they are pushing in law that would enable foreign companies to bleed nations dry in an irreversible manner. Hard-won exceptions to protect public services or insulate financial services regulations from investor-state challenge, for example, become targets for elimination in the next set of talks. This needs to stop for the good of you, your family and society.
The negotiating dynamic is fundamentally skewed towards corporate interests.
With the stroke of a pen, a single neo-liberal government can essentially lock all future governments into a policy straitjacket. Public interest advocates seeking to exempt essential sectors or key public policies from these treaties must fight and win every time, while the corporate lobbyists and their puppet politicians pushing them need win only once.
Official platitudes about “expanding trade” and “growing the economy” only mask the reality that these types of agreements are increasingly about far more than trade.
Current treaties have developed into constitutional-style documents that tie governments’ hands in many areas only loosely related to trade. These include patent protection for drugs, local government purchasing, foreign investor rights, public services and public interest regulation, which can have consequences in areas such as labour, the environment and Internet freedom.
Trade negotiators continue to insist that nothing in such treaties forces governments to privatize, yet there is little doubt that the latest generation of trade and investment agreements limits many key options for progressive governance.
The negative impacts on public services include: confining public services within existing boundaries by raising the costs of expanding existing public services or creating new ones; increasing the bargaining power of corporations to block initiatives when new public services are proposed or implemented; and locking in future privatization by making it legally irreversible.
The secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), along with the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) could make it impossible for future governments to restore public services to public control, even in cases where private service delivery has failed. It would also restrict a government’s ability to regulate key sectors including financial, energy, telecommunications and cross-border data flows.
Besides threatening public services and jobs, it sets rules that would assist the expansion of financial multinationals into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers. It prohibits more regulation of financial services, despite the fact that the 2007-08 financial meltdown is generally perceived as resulting from a lack of regulation. Furthermore, the US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, including traffic of personal and financial data.
The US and the EU are the main proponents of the agreement, and the authors of most joint changes, which also covers cross-border data flow. In a significant anti-transparency manoeuvre by the parties, the draft has been classified to keep it secret not just during the negotiations but for five years after the TISA enters into force.
Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures2, proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets. The draft Financial Services Annex sets rules which would assist the expansion of financial multi-nationals – mainly headquartered in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt – into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers. The leaked draft also shows that the US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, which would allow uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data.
Treating public services as commodities for trade creates a fundamental misconception of public services. The Trades in Services Agreement (TISA), currently being negotiated in secret and outside of World Trade Organization rules, is a deliberate attempt to privilege the profits of the richest corporations and countries in the world over those who have the greatest needs.
Public services are designed to provide vital social and economic necessities – such as health care and education – affordably, universally and on the basis of need. Public services exist because markets will not produce these outcomes. Further, public services are fundamental to ensure fair competition for business, and effective regulation to avoid environmental, social and economic disasters – such as the global financial crisis and global warming. Trade agreements consciously promote commercialisation and define goods and services in terms of their ability to be exploited for profit by global corporations. Even the most ardent supporters of trade agreements admit that there are winners and losers in this rigged game.
The winners are usually powerful countries who are able to assert their power, multinational corporations who are best placed to exploit new access to markets, and wealthy consumers who can afford expensive foreign imports. The losers tend to be workers who face job losses and downward pressure on wages, users of public services and local small businesses which cannot compete with multinational corporations.
Current WTO parties negotiating TISA are: Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, which includes its 28 member states Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
This extract is from a report on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) which was prepared for Public Services International, (PSI) written by Scott Sinclair, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, Institute of Political Economy, Carleton University. Please read, and encourage others to read the full report - and put pressure on your local political representatives to stop the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) - which is available here:
It also includes extracts from the Wikileaks press release that accompanied release of the leaked document:
Here is a link to the leaked Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex.
The draft text comes from the April 2014 negotiation round - the sixth round since the first held in April 2013.