Why International 'Trade in Services Agreement' (TISA) is dangerous to democracy, development, and the public interest, and must be stopped!

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(Verborgen) nieuws, Economie, Bedrijven, Geografisch, Politiek

(Our world is not for sale) What is the proposed TISA?

At the beginning of 2012, about twenty members (counting the EU as one) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), calling themselves 'The Really Good Friends of Services' (RGF), launched secret unofficial talks towards drafting a treaty that would further liberalize trade and investment in services, and expand 'regulatory disciplines' on all services sectors, including many public services. The 'disciplines', or treaty rules, would provide foreign services providers free access to domestic markets at 'no less favorable' conditions than domestic suppliers and would restrict governments’ ability to regulate services.This would essentially change the regulation of many public and privatized or commercial services from serving the public interest to serving the profit interests of private, foreign corporations.

Negotiations occurred throughout 2013, in conjunction with the meetings of the Council on Trade in Services in the WTO, with the aim of finalizing very ambitious agreement on far-reaching services liberalizationand disciplining government. The Really Good Friends of Servicescurrently include Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United States, and the 28 member states of the European Union. They are also pushing for parallel negotiations on the liberalization of services in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) through the re-start of the Doha Round.

Where did that crazy idea come from?
The TISA negotiations follow the corporate agenda of using 'trade' agreements to make privatization non-reversible, and to promote mergers and acquisitions and deregulation, in order to ensure greater corporate control and profit making of national economies and the global economy. The proposed agreement is the direct result of systematic pressure by transnational corporations in banking, energy, insurance, telecommunications, transportation, water, and other services sectors, working through lobby groups like the US Coalition of Service Industries (USCSI) and the European Services Forum (ESF). In fact, in the early 1980s, the financial lobby started to press for what would become the GATS to be included in the WTO at the time of its founding in 1995. Notwithstanding several financial and economic crises, the services negotiations in the GATS and free trade agreements (FTAs) continue in the same business as usual, with countries’ negotiations mandates reflecting the interests of the services conglomeratesthroughthe USCSI and the ESF (extensively documented by Corporate Europe Observatory). Corporate pressure was equally strong during the negotiations of the WTO Financial Services Agreement (an annex to GATS), completed in 1997, after the founding of the WTO. The GATS includes a built-in agenda for further negotiations, which was incorporated as a major area of corporate interest in the launching of the Doha Round of the WTO in 2001.

Developing countries only agreed to start a new Round of negotiations in Doha, because rich countries promised that the Round would be dedicated to 'fixing' the anti-development and anti-public interest aspects of the existing WTO (such as the unfair rules on Agriculture). However, since then, corporate interests have steadily lobbied negotiators to oppose changes to existing rules that would make the WTO more 'development-friendly', and to instead keep pushing a liberalization, deregulation and sometimes privatization agenda.

The proposed TISA is thus a cynical attempt of the major proponents of so-called 'free trade' and aggressive market opening to ensure that corporate wish lists can be fulfilled, without having to make any changes to existing WTO demanded by poor countries. A TISA could also jeopardize movement towards serious transformation of the global trading system demanded by civil society, such as the global 'Turnaround Agenda' of the 'Our World Is Not for Sale' (OWINFS) network.

What types of services would be included in the proposed TISA?
'Services' cover a broad range of activities from transport, (tele-)communications, construction, retail, engineering, energy provision, water distribution, accountancy, marketing, publicity, banking, and insurance, to nature conservation, entertainment, museums, education, health, funeral services, and much more. The GATS agreement lists all of these as tradable commodities, making every aspect of human activity the subject of closed-door commercial negotiations. 
Read the full article here


(WikiLeaks) Press Release - Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) - Financial Services Annex 
Today (19 juni 2014 red.), WikiLeaks released the secret draft text for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex, which covers 50 countries and 68.2% (1) of world trade in services. 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.
Read the full press release here

Sources: Our world is not for sale, WikiLeaks


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