Core texts of the secretive Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) have finally been exposed by WikiLeaks.
The whistleblowing group released the explosive document on July 1, ahead of the a new round of negotiations. The 52 participating countries, including the US, Japan, Australia, Israel and the members of the European Union, are discussing “liberalisation” of laws on financial services, telecommunications and cross-border transfer of workers.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called TISA, “the largest trade deal in history” and noted that its signatories together make up two-thirds of the world’s economic output. TISA aims to open to the global private sector services including healthcare, transport and banking.
Together with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU and the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), which the US is negotiating with Pacific rim countries, the privatisation deals seek to entrench neoliberalism in international law. The deals seek to remove national governments’ right to protect services from foreign takeover or provide them publicly.
The “trinity” of trade deals can also been seen as a bid to shore up the economic dominance of the West in the face of the rising power of the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. No BRICS nation was asked to join TISA negotiations.
“The three treaties form not only a new legal order shaped for transnational corporations, but a new economic ‘grand enclosure,’ which excludes China and all other BRICS countries,” Assange said.
Among the newly published documents is the TISA Annex on Government Procurement, which bars countries from favouring local provision of services over that of transnational corporations.
Other provisions which expand on the older General Agreement on Trade in Services provide for “market access” rights stopping governments from limiting the size or nature of foreign investment in a service.
“These rules are sweeping in their scope, because they limit governments’ rights to use almost every tool available to them — any law, regulation, rule, procedure, decision, administrative action,” Auckland University’s Professor Jane Kelsey warned.