Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

#TPP, #TTIP & #TiSA: Global Secret Trade Deals Will Make Government Irrelevant

citizens united

Since 2013, WikiLeaks has been releasing successive chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Without Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, the citizens of the world would know nothing about the future that multinational corporations are planning for us– a world where workers are paid as little as possible, where Internet freedom will no longer exist, where drug patents will be extended (thus eliminating generic drugs), where corporations can sue governments for potential loss of profits, where environmental, public health, and labor laws will be gutted for the good of the greedy, where privatization will maximize profits and minimize service, where the idea of government acting for public good will be sacrificed in order to raise profits of the few.

The richest 1% already own half of the world’s wealth, but apparently, that’s not enough. In addition to currently negotiating the TPP in secret, two other global “free” trade agreements also are being negotiated — the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is the TPP for countries on the Atlantic Ocean, and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which covers global services.

This week, WikiLeaks turned its focus to the TiSA by releasing 17 TiSA-related documents including 11 full chapters. The outline for the TiSA has been in place for almost a year, but the corporate plan to keep these documents secret for five years after the plan is signed has been foiled by WikiLeaks. (What would we do without whistle blowers?!)

Here is background from New Republic on the TiSA…

TiSA has been negotiated since 2013, between the United States, the European Union, and 22 other nations, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and others scattered across South America and Asia. Overall, 12 of the G20 nations are represented, and negotiations have carefully incorporated practically every advanced economy except for the “BRICS” coalition of emerging markets (which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

The deal would liberalize global trade of services, an expansive definition that encompasses air and maritime transport, package delivery, e-commerce, telecommunications, accountancy, engineering, consulting, health care, private education, financial services and more, covering close to 80 percent of the U.S. economy. Though member parties insist that the agreement would simply stop discrimination against foreign service providers, the text shows that TiSA would restrict how governments can manage their public laws through an effective regulatory cap. It could also dismantle and privatize state-owned enterprises, and turn those services over to the private sector. You begin to sound like the guy hanging out in front of the local food co-op passing around leaflets about One World Government when you talk about TiSA, but it really would clear the way for further corporate domination over sovereign countries and their citizens

First, they want to limit regulation on service sectors, whether at the national, provincial or local level. The agreement has “standstill” clauses to freeze regulations in place and prevent future rulemaking for professional licensing and qualifications or technical standards. And a companion “ratchet” clause would make any broken trade barrier irreversible.

It may make sense to some to open service sectors up to competition. But under the agreement, governments may not be able to regulate staff to patient ratios in hospitals, or ban fracking, or tighten safety controls on airlines, or refuse accreditation to schools and universities. Foreign corporations must receive the same “national treatment” as domestic ones, and could argue that such regulations violate their ability to provide the service. Allowable regulations could not be “more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service,” according to TiSA’s domestic regulation annex. No restrictions could be placed on foreign investment—corporations could control entire sectors. 

This would force open dozens of services, including ones where state-owned enterprises, like the national telephone company in Uruguay or the national postal service of Italy, now operate. Previously, public services would be either broken up or forced into competition with foreign service providers. While the United States and European Union assured in a joint statement that such privatization need not be permanent, they also “noted the important complementary role of the private sector in these areas” to “improve the availability and diversity of services,” which doesn’t exactly connote a hands-off policy on the public commons.

Corporations would get to comment on any new regulatory attempts, and enforce this regulatory straitjacket through a dispute mechanism similar to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process in other trade agreements, where they could win money equal to “expected future profits” lost through violations of the regulatory cap…

That’s perhaps TiSA’s real goal—to pry open markets, deregulate and privatize services worldwide, even among emerging nations with no input into the agreement. U.S. corporations may benefit from such a structure, as the Chamber of Commerce suggests, but the impact on workers and citizens in America and across the globe is far less clear. Social, cultural, and even public health goals would be sidelined in favor of a regime that puts corporate profits first. It effectively nullifies the role of democratic governments to operate in the best interest of their constituents…

“This is as big a blow to our rights and freedom as the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America in a statement, “and in both cases our government’s secrecy is the key enabler. [Emphasis added. Read the whole article here.]

I am reeling. People, we need to stop fast track authority and kill these “free” trade agreements– or life as we know it will end. Forget about affordable public services, public education, public banking, public anything, cooperatives, sustainability, clean air and water, freedom of speech…

If the Congress votes to give President Obama fast track authority to sign all the bad trade deals he wants to, the 2016 election will be irrelevant.


This entry was posted on June 6, 2015 by in Barack Obama, Capitalism, Congress, corporatists, democracy, jobs, Political corruption, reform, unions and tagged , , , , .
Follow Tucson Progressive on WordPress.com


The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals–not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election.

My platform focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

%d bloggers like this: