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free-tradeFronting themselves as the ´Really Good Friends of Services,’ a group of 50 countries—representing an estimated 70 per cent share of the world’s trade in services—are secretly negotiating the TISA. This deal will open up a wide range of public services to be sold permanently for private profit.

This massive trade deal will put public health care, child care, postal, broadcasting, water, power, transport and other services at risk. The TISA will lock in the privatizations of services—even in cases where private service delivery has failed—meaning governments can never return water, energy, health, education or other services to public hands.

The TISA will also restrict a government’s right to regulate stronger standards in the public’s interest. For example, it will affect environmental regulations, licensing of health facilities and laboratories, waste disposal centers, power plants, school and university accreditation and broadcast licenses. The proposed deal will also restrict a government’s ability to regulate key sectors including financial, energy, telecommunications and cross-border data flows.

The TISA will specifically limit the ability of governments to regulate the financial services industry at exactly the time when the global economy is still recovering from a crisis caused by financial deregulation.

China Asks to Join the Trade in Services Agreement TalksResponding to the leak, Public Services International General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli says, “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.

“The secrecy surrounding these negotiations to extend controversial GATS arrangements into a wide range of areas previously rejected is anti-democratic in the extreme. If our governments are doing nothing wrong – why are they hiding these texts?

 Pavanelli adds, “The attempts by governments still reeling from the global economic crisis to further deregulate the financial system shows that our trade ministers really have been captured by large corporate interests. When you understand this, you understand why the texts are being kept secret. This is a bad deal for people and our planet. We demand that the texts be released for public scrutiny now.”

European Trade Union Committee for Education

Recommended reading:

Facts: how our government shows their contempt for  it’s citizens and world:

Financial Services Annex: The secret draft text for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)

Memorandum on Leaked TISA Financial Services Text:

Download Analysis Article of secret TISA Financial Services Annex as PDF here

Financial Services Annex, which covers 50 countries and 68.2%1 of world trade in services. The US and the EU are the main proponents of the agreement, and the authors of most joint changes, which also covers cross-border data flow. In a significant anti-transparency manoeuvre by the parties, the draft has been classified to keep it secret not just during the negotiations but for five years after the TISA enters into force.

Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the Financial crisis of 2007–08 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures2, 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 multi-nationals – 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 took place outside of the General Agreement on Trade in Services and the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework. The Agreement is being crafted to be compatible with General Agreement on Trade in Services 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 countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. 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 most recent round of negotiations took place on 23-27 June in Geneva, Switzerland.

Current WTO parties negotiating TISA are: Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei (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, which includes its 28 member states Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

China and Uruguay have expressed interest in joining the negotiations but so far are not included.

DELEGATE WTO[1] Swiss National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs): A Plurilateral Agenda for Services? – Assessing the Case for a Trade in Services Agreement, Working Paper No. 2013/29, May 2013, p. 10.

[2] For example, in June 2012 Ecuador tabled a discussion on re-thinking regulation and GATS rules; in September 2009 the Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System, convened by the President of the United Nations and chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, released its final report, stating that “All trade agreements need to be reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with the need for an inclusive and comprehensive international regulatory framework which is conducive to crisis prevention and management, counter-cyclical and prudential safeguards, development, and inclusive finance.”

More recommended reading

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Our World is Not for Sale

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Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division

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Public Submissions

The only avenue TISA negotiators offer for public input is via public submissions. Each country has their own method for handling submissions. Below are the public submissions from the biggest proponents of TISA.

Read the Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) – Financial Services Annex

Read the Analysis Article – Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) – Financial Services Annex






Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)

Analysis Article

Corporate Governance in the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis


Financial services workers’ union takes concerns over

Deregulating Wall Street Makes Bankers Richer And Hurts