New trade pact would lock in privatization

TISA Trade in Services Agreement globalization free trade

The proposed new 50-nation Trade in Services Agreement now being negotiated is the latest in a series of proposals in create international structures to lock in corporate agendas and neutralize government regulation.   It would, among other things, prevent municipal governments that privatized public services from taking them back if privatization didn’t work out.

I learned about TISA through a report published by two Canadian academics, Scott Sinclair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Hadrian Mertini-Kirkward of the Institute for Political Economy of Carleton University, and commissioned by Public Services International, an international federation of public sector trade unions.  What follows is based on their report.

Formal TISA negotiations began early in 2013, and negotiators hope they can finish up by the end of 2014.   There’s a round of negotiations now going on in Geneva.   The Chinese government reportedly wants to join, but the U.S. representatives aren’t sure the Chinese are committed to the goal of the agreement.

The basic idea of TISA is that foreign companies should be able to compete to provide services on the same basis as domestic companies.  Hence there “standstill” and “rachet” clauses to make current and future privatizations of public services a one-way street, so that foreign companies don’t lose their right to bid on them.

There are provisions for governments to carve out exceptions in the agreement, but if there is something they fail to think of, they are out of luck.  Even if you think privatization is a good idea in general, you might admit that municipal governments should have the power to make decisions based on individual circumstances.

The agreement would forbid governments to restrict movement of corporate employees, such as construction workers or nurses.  Corporations would be allowed to bring in their own workers, without having to check on whether local workers were available to do the work.

However, there is no provision to give these employees resident or immigrant status.  When and if they lose their jobs, they’d be kicked out of the country immediately, so that they would not be in a position to complain or join unions.

Another provision would restrict governments’ authority to set rules for licensing clinics and medical laboratories, water and sewerage plants, power plants, for broadcast licenses and for accreditation of schools and universities.

There seems to be no end to these agreements.  First there was NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which I was foolish enough to support, but which never delivered on its promises.

Then came the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which in the name of international trade would restrict governments from regulating corporations, and create an unelected tribunal to which corporations could appeal decisions that unfairly deprive them of “expected profits.”

I’d written and published a good many posts about the TPP when I learned there was another international agreement in the works that was just as bad, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Now this.  I wonder what else is being cooked up that we the people don’t know about.


Click on Secret trade negotiations undermine public services: study for the press release by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Click on The Trade in Services Agreement and the corporate agenda for the complete report.

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2 Responses to “New trade pact would lock in privatization”

  1. williambearcat Says:

    Phil, I think I read a lot and watch a lot of news program, but your blogs are really helpful. And to think that much of this is coming under a Democratic president.


  2. thetinfoilhatsociety Says:

    Reblogged this on The Tin Foil Hat Society and commented:
    They just won’t stop with this crap. WHEN are we going to kill the corporation???? We need a revolution. A real one, not another Occupy.


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