(This is strictly by way of a public service announcement; I’m not versed at all on TISA, so I may not be able to answer comments.)
Press Release – Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) – Financial Services Annex 2014-06-19
Today, WikiLeaks released the secret draft text for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) 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 2007-2008 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 are currently taking place outside of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework. However, the Agreement is being crafted to be compatible with 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 of Brazil, Russia, India and China. 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 next round of negotiations will take 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.
 Swiss National Center for Competence in Research: A Plurilateral Agenda for Services?: Assessing the Case for a Trade in Services Agreement, Working Paper No. 2013/29, May 2013, p. 10.
 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.”
From RT, further commentary and reactions, including:
‘Dr. Patricia Ranald, a research associate at the University of Sydney and convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, told the paper that the documents suggest the US wants to “tie the hands” of other governments, including allied ones, by way of sheer deregulation.
“Amendments from the US are seeking to end publicly provided services like public pension funds, which are referred to as ‘monopolies’ and to limit public regulation of all financial services,” she said. ”They want to freeze financial regulation at existing levels, which would mean that governments could not respond to new developments like another global financial crisis.”
Earlier this week, US Trade Representative Michael Froman said the TISA deal was already well on its way to being put together.
“The basic framework of the agreement is in place, initial market access offers have been exchanged, and sector-specific work in areas like telecommunications andfinancialservices is in full swing,” Froman said, according to Reuters.
The document published this week by WikiLeaks is dated April 14 — two months before Froman last weighed in on the progress of the negotiations and six months after his office hailed previous re-write to the proposal. Along with representatives from Canada, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Turkey and dozens others, American policy makers will met in Geneva, Switzerland later this month starting June 23 to begin the next round of negotiations.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, meanwhile, remains confined to Ecuador’s embassy in London where two years ago this Thursday he arrived seeking asylum. Assange, 42, is wanted for questioning in Sweden but fears his arrival there would prompt a swift extradition to the US due to his role in exposing American state secrets.
From Reuters yesterday: ‘U.S. says basic outline in place for international services trade deal ‘
See Kevin Gosztola’s ‘Julian Assange Hopes New Information Filed in Swedish Court Next Week Will Remove Arrest Warrant‘
You can donate to WikiLeaks through the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
‘In late 2010, in response to unofficial government pressure, Visa, MasterCard and PayPal cut WikiLeaks off from receiving donations after WikiLeaks started publishing a trove of secret US State Department cables, despite the fact that its publications were fully protected by the First Amendment.
Freedom of the Press Foundation takes donations on behalf of WikiLeaks, and has pledged to do the same for any news organization in a similar situation, to prevent unjust and extra-legal financial censorship of the press. Go here for more information about exactly what your donation to WikiLeaks will go towards. Your donation will be tax-deductible. You can also donate by check.’
From Michael Ratner (their attorney). (I do, too.)
‘Statement frm Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch on Text of Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Text that Has Been Posted on WikiLeaks Today’ (pdf, one page):
“If the text that was leaked today went into force, it would roll back the improvements made after the global financial crisis to safeguard consumers and financial stability and cement us into the extreme deregulatory model of the 1990s that led to the crisis in the first place and the billions in losses to consumers and governments.
This is a text that big banks and financial speculators may love but that could do real damage to the rest of us. It includes a provision that is literally called ‘standstill’ that would forbid countries from improving financial regulation and would lock them into whatever policies they had on the books in the past.”
Mike Ludwig at Truthout writes:
“Demonstrations erupted in Geneva in April as diplomats met in secret for the sixth round of negotiations over TISA, which would cover international trade in a wide range of service industries ranging from finance and telecommunications to transportation and even local utilities such as water. Protesters demanded that the draft text be released, but it has remained secret until now.
Public Services International (PSI), a global trade union federating public service workers in 150 countries, has reported that TISA threatens to allow multinational corporations to permanently privatize vital public services such as healthcare and transportation in countries across the world.
“This agreement is all about making it easier for corporations to make profits and operate with impunity across borders,” said PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli in response to the leak. “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 Geneva protest link has video en Francais.