Trade in Services Agreement

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The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is a proposed international trade treaty between 24 Parties, including the European Union and the United States. The agreement aims at liberalizing the worldwide trade of services such as banking, health care and transport.[1] Criticism about the secrecy of the agreement arose after WikiLeaks released in June 2014 a classified draft of the proposal's financial services annex, dated the previous April.[2]

Origin[edit]

Parties to Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)

The process was an initiative of the United States. It was proposed to a group of countries meeting in Geneva and called the Really Good Friends. All negotiating meetings take place in Geneva. The EU and the US are the main proponents of the agreement, and the authors of most joint changes. The participating countries started crafting the proposed agreement in February 2012[3] and presented initial offers at the end of 2013.[4]

Proposed Agreement[edit]

The agreement covers about 70% of the global services economy. Its aim is liberalizing the worldwide trade of services such as banking, healthcare and transport.[1][5] Services comprise 75% of American economic output; in EU states, almost 75% of its employment and gross domestic product.[6]

Once a particular trade barrier has unilaterally been removed, it can not be reintroduced. This proposal is known as the 'ratchet clause'.[7]

European Union[edit]

The EU has stated that companies outside of its borders will not be allowed to provide publicly funded healthcare or social services.[7]

Market access for publicly-funded health, social services and education, water services, film or TV will not be taken. Therefore the 'racket clause' will not apply.[7]

Parties involved[edit]

Initially having 16 members, the TISA has expanded to include 24 parties. Since the European Union represents 28 member states, there are 51 countries represented.[8] The number of countries represented in each continent are: 32 in Europe, 7 in Asia, 5 in North America, 5 in South America, and 2 in Oceania. The 24 TiSA parties in order of their income categories are:[9]

Income Group Parties
High Income Countries  Australia
 Canada
 Chile
 Hong Kong
 Iceland
 Israel
 Japan
 South Korea
 Liechtenstein
 New Zealand
 Norway
  Switzerland
 Taiwan
 United States
 Uruguay
 European Union
Upper Middle Income Countries  Colombia
 Costa Rica
 Mexico
 Panama
 Peru
 Turkey
Lower Middle Income Countries  Pakistan
 Paraguay

Controversy[edit]

The agreement has been criticized for the secrecy around the negotiation. The cover page of the negotiating document leaked by Wikileaks says: "Declassify on: Five years from entry into force of the TISA agreement or, if no agreement enters into force, five years from the close of the negotiations."[2] Because of this practice it is not possible to be informed about the liberalizing rules that the participating countries propose for the future agreement. Only Switzerland has a practice of making public on the Internet all the proposals it submitted to the other parties since June 2012.[3] European Union published its "offer" for TISA only in July 2014,[10] after the Wikileaks disclosure.

Digital rights advocates have also brought attention to the fact that the agreement has provisions which would significantly weaken existing data protection provisions in signatory countries. In particular, the agreement would strip existing protections which aim to keep confidential or personally identifiable data within country borders or which prohibit its movement to other countries which do not have similar data protection laws in place.[11]

Analysis[edit]

A preliminary analysis of the Financial Services Annex by prominent free trade critic Professor Jane Kelsey, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, New Zealand was published with the WikiLeaks release.[12]

The Public Services International (PSI) organization described TISA as:

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 all foreign providers access to domestic markets at "no less favorable" conditions as domestic suppliers and would restrict governments' ability to regulate, purchase and provide 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.[13]

One concern is the provisions regarding retention of business records. David Cay Johnston said, "It is ... hard to make the case that the cost of keeping a duplicate record at the home office in a different country is a burden." He noted that business records requirements are sufficiently important that they were codified in law even before the Code of Hammurabi.[14]

Impacts of the law may include "whether people can get loans or buy insurance and at what prices as well as what jobs may be available."[14]

Dr. Patricia Ranald, a research associate at the University of Sydney, said:

“Amendments from the US are seeking to end publicly provided services like public pension funds, which are referred to as 'monopolies' and to limit public regulation of all financial services ... They want to freeze financial regulation at existing levels, which would mean that governments could not respond to new developments like another global financial crisis."[15]

Regarding the secrecy of the draft, Professor Kelsey commented: "The secrecy of negotiating documents exceeds even the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and runs counter to moves in the WTO towards greater openness."[12] Johnston adds, "It is impossible to obey a law or know how it affects you when the law is secret."[14]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dorling, Philip. "Medical tourism' plan revealed: Australia leads top secret push for globalisation of healthcare". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Wikileaks (19 June 2014). "Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) - Financial Services Annex". Wikileaks. 
  3. ^ a b "Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)". State Secretariat fo Economic Affairs. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)". Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Retrieved 3 July 2014. .
  5. ^ Palmer, Daniel (30 June 2014). "Major banking shake-up ahead". The Australian. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "U.S. says basic outline in place for international services trade deal". Reuters. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c "Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) Questions and answers". European Commission. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  8. ^ "Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website – www.dfat.gov.au. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  9. ^ Amit Sengupta (27 July 2014). "Trading Away Access to Public Services". People's Democracy. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  10. ^ The EU publishes TiSA position papers, Brussels, 22 July 2014, Retrieved 2014-09-03
  11. ^ "LEAKED: Secret Negotiations to Let Big Brother Go Global". Wolf Street. Don Quijones. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Professor Jane Kelsey (19 June 2014). "Memorandum on Leaked TISA Financial Services Text". Wikileaks. 
  13. ^ "Meet TISA: Another Major Treaty Negotiated In Secret Alongside TPP And TTIP". Techdirt. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  14. ^ a b c Johnston, David Cay. "Thanks to WikiLeaks, public can debate alarming new trade deal". Al Jazeera America. Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  15. ^ Hanai, Toru (2014-06-19). "Secret trade agreement covering 68 percent of world services published by WikiLeaks — RT USA". Russia Today. Retrieved 2014-07-03.