TiSA WikiLeaked: Winners & losers of multinational trade deal
Leaked documents of TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) negotiations reveal that the treaty is looking to undermine “governments involved in the treaty” by supporting multinational companies instead of local businesses, according to a WikiLeaks press release.
The revelations come just one week before TiSA talks resume on July 6. Negotiations have been taking place in secret since early 2013.
The economies of the member countries now comprise two-thirds of global GDP. To make matters even more concerning, all the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – have been excluded from the TiSA negotiations.
Even after the deal is finalized, WikiLeaks said that the TiSA documents are meant to remain secret for five years.
The agreement is part of the strategic “T-treaty trinity”: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), TiSA, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It complements the other two global trade agreements dealing with goods and investments, which are all currently being negotiated in secret. TiSA is believed to be the largest component of the three.
WikiLeaks’ analysis of the core text, compiled by University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, stresses that the trade treaty aims to limit governments’ ability to regulate national services and gives unprecedented freedom to foreign corporations. The idea seems to be to privatize services on a global scale.
Here are the main points of the analysis:
Multinational firms vs. local
The treaty gives preference to multinational firms, giving more rights to big corporations, while limiting the influence of small local businesses.
According to the leaked terms, governments have to give up their right to choose local service providers in areas like broadcasting, education, electricity and sanitation.
“Governments sign away their right to give preferences to local providers of services,” states the analysis.
Less government control may lead to instability instead of liberalization
There is an overarching goal to liberalize trade in all services, including banking, financial, e-commerce, health, transport, and consulting. The reforms would touch all levels of government, such as “central, regional or local governments and authorities.”
This would change the way companies view their customers. “People are not viewed as citizens or members of their communities, they are ‘consumers.’” Kelsey says. “Those who provide the services do not need to have any connection to the people or communities that rely on their services.”
Additionally, the treaty proposes further restricting governments’ input on setting size and growth limits on various economic activities, as well as institutions, such as banks.
This point can interfere with governments’ own laws designed to keep the financial system stable, like the Dodd-Frank Act in the US.
The end of accountability
Such a degree of Liberalization changes the relationship between companies and their consumers, according to Kelsey. Service providers from foreign countries would be no longer be accountable to countries in which they were operating, reducing the population, in their calculations, to profit margin. Moreover, foreign firms would not be responsible for providing any additional social or developmental functions that a service can fulfill.
“Trade in services agreements treat services as marketable commodities, and deny or subordinate altogether their social, cultural, environmental, employment, and development functions,” Kelsey states.
“Those who provide the services do not need to have any connection to the people or communities that rely on their services … None of these ‘suppliers’ has any long-term responsibility or accountability to the country that ‘consumes’ them.”
Another major element of the treaty is a rule restricting governments from putting controls on cross-border movements of capital, including anything related to services or inflows of capital.
Options for governments to pass capital controls are very limited, even if there is a danger of significant deficits in the national balance of payments.
The latest leak comes just a few weeks after WikiLeaks published 17 other secret documents related to the controversial trade agreement.