‘Despite its importance both the US Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have thus far given no position on the TISA Agreement.’
Even as it continued to post new batches of emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, Wikileaks on Friday also published new draft chapters of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) which shed new light on the pending deal that critics say puts global economies at further risk from powerful banks, financial institutions, and corporate greed.
The latest release follows a series of others by the pro-tranparency publication and comes just days ahead of the next round of TISA negotiations set to begin Monday in Washington, DC. The leaked documents included in Friday’s release include three draft chapters from the agreement—covering “Financial Services,” “Localization Provisions,” and “Bilateral Market Access.” The chapters are from June of this year and bring the number of documents related to the TISA negotiations published by Wikileaks up to 70 total.
Members of the Confederal Group of the European United Left hold posters with the slogan ‘Stop Tisa’ (Trade in Services Agreement) during a voting session at the European parliament in Strasbourg, France. (Photo: Vincent Kessler /Reuters)
Along with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TransAtlantic Trade and Investement Partnership (TTIP), TISA is actually the largest of the “Three Big T’s” of pending international agreements that seek to further shape the global economic and legal systems in favor of major corporations and elite interests. TISA is the largest of the three deals, and according to World Bank figures cited by Wikileaks, services that would be covered by the massive agreement comprise around 75% of the EU economy, 80% of the US economy and the majority of economies of most countries.
However, notes Wikileaks, “despite its importance, both the US Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have thus far given no position on the TISA Agreement.”
According to one of the companion analyses by Wikileaks released alongside the TISA chapters, the current deal, if finalized, “would heighten risks of financial instability and handcuff governments’ ability to respond to a domestic or global financial crisis at a time when everyone (except the finance industry and its political allies) agree that we need more financial regulation, not less.”
In response to the latest leaks on Friday, the leaders of organized labor unions said it was more clear than ever that TISA “is no more than a corporate power grab and that negotiations must be stopped.”
In a joint statement, those unions said the wide scope of “the deregulatory agenda and attack on democratic governance” found in the TISA chapters “has been exposed” and criticized European Union governments for attempting to hijack control of every level of governance from the municipal to national levels of partner countries. Their review of the chapters found clear evidence that European countries are demanding deeper liberalization of public services both within the EU and beyond.
“The EU position ignores the potential danger of exporting aggressive privatisation policies to the developing world, which have already been shown to be the cause of social and political instability in many EU countries,” said Public Services International (PSI) General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli in a statement.
As Deborah James, Director of International Programs of the Center for Economy and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, DC, offered in her analysis of the leaks:
The leaked EU “requests” include asks that Costa Rica and Peru subject services offered at the subnational (local) level to the TISA liberalization rules. Unless the EU can demonstrate that all services offered in every municipality in these countries are already open to foreign suppliers, these are demands that would lock in any privatization of public services at the local level and open those services to competition from foreign services providers ― which the EU has constantly claimed it is not asking for.
The EU’s demands also include access to postal services in Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, and Turkey, and in several developed countries participating in the talks. Many countries maintain cross-subsidization programs that are an important part of enabling national communication from rural areas. If countries make commitments in this sector, then they would have to provide the same subsidies to foreign corporations as their own domestic firms, and would not be able to renationalize the sector if privatization was found to have adverse impacts.
The EU’s demands also include access to sanitation, sewage, and other environmental services, which are often administered on a local level; telecommunications (including broadcasting); retail and distribution services; shipping; air and maritime transport; energy and mining services (which are extremely sensitive particularly in Latin America); and others. In addition, the EU is requesting more commitments on financial services in nearly every country.
Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary of Education International (EI), said that in addition to TISA’s concerning contents, the secrecy surrounding how the deal is being negotiated remains troubling:
“These leaks give a clear indication of the dangerous direction of the TiSA negotiations. The fact that citizens and civil society are still obliged to rely on leaks for getting a sense of the direction of the negotiations is deeply unsatisfactory.”
And Ron Oswald, General Secretary of the International Union of Food Workers (UIF), indicated that organized labor should really only have one set of demands at this point.
“It’s time to halt the negotiations, publish the secret texts and ensure the widest possible public debate to expose the full extent of the threat these treaties pose to democracy and the labour movement,” Oswald said.
And as CEPR’s James declared, “Globalization’s cheerleaders are all handwringing about the widespread opposition to trade pacts. But what they don’t acknowledge is that people around the world are not rejecting ‘trade,’ they are rejecting corporate control over our lives. People want to live in a democracy; they want quality, accessible public services; a well-regulated financial sector; and decent jobs for all ― the opposite agenda of the deregulation, locked-in privatization, and antidevelopment fundamentals of the secret proposed TISA, according to today’s explosive leak.”
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About the author
Jon Queally is senior editor and staff writer at Common Dreams
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