Like TPP on Steroids? Wikileaks Exposes Another Secret, Horrible Trade Agreement: TISA

TISA protests in Denmark.


Wikileaks has published a secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), a trade agreement which would cover 50 countries and 68.2 percent of world trade. The secrecy surrounding TISA exceeds the almost-completely-in-the-dark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and opponents argue that TISA will promote the privatization of public services in countries around the globe, effectively making it easier for global corporations to increase their profits and operate above international law.

Among TISA’s opponents is Public Services International (PSI), a global trade union representing public service workers in over 150 countries. PSI believes that TISA would allow the permanent privatization of healthcare and transportation around the world. In response to the leak, PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli told Truth-Out:

“This agreement is all about making it easier for corporations to make profits and operate with impunity across borders.  The aim of public services should not be to make profits for large multinational corporations. Ensuring that failed privatizations can never be reversed is free-market ideology gone mad.”

According to Jane Kelsey, a law professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who analyzed the documents on behalf of Wikileaks, the parties pushing TISA are the same as those who installed the failed trade deregulation measures that led to the global financial meltdown.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which fully supports TISA, has said that:

“payoff from TISA could be huge” for domestic service industry firms and presents “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tear down barriers to international trade.”

Wikileaks notes the dangers of TISA being negotiated in secrecy while ignoring the accepted framework for crafting such agreements:

Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures, 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 multinationals – 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.

TISA negotiations are currently taking place outside of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework. However, the Agreement is being crafted to be compatible with GATS so that a critical mass of participants will be able to pressure remaining WTO members to sign on in the future. Conspicuously absent from the 50 countries covered by the negotiations are the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. The exclusive nature of TISA will weaken their position in future services negotiations.

The draft text comes from the April 2014 negotiation round – the sixth round since the first held in April 2013. The next round of negotiations will take place on 23-27 June in Geneva, Switzerland.

According to the leaked documents, the countries currently involved in TISA negotiations include Australia, Canada, Chile, 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’s 28 member states.

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