August 12, 2014
by Cole Stangler
This post first appeared at In These Times.
(Graphic: In These Times)
Most progressives are, by now, familiar with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the proposed trade deal that would link the United States with Pacific Rim powerhouses like Australia and Japan. Wonkier corners of the left are equally conversant in the intrigue of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a pact that would couple the United States and the European Union. Like-minded critics would do well by memorizing yet another trade acronym: TISA, or the Trade in Services Agreement. Judging by the stakes and the ultra-secrecy of the negotiations, it could easily be the worst of the bunch.
Here’s what we know: Fifty countries, including the United States, the EU nations, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey, have been in TISA talks since 2012. The resulting agreement will set the terms for almost 70 percent of global trade in “services”: everything from banking and construction to telecom and tourism.
The public got its first glimpse of the treaty on June 19, when WikiLeaks published a draft of the agreement’s chapter on financial services. It wasn’t pretty. The text included proposals to extend new “market access” guarantees to all participating states and fresh limits on the ability of nations to “discriminate” against foreign financial firms. The section hasn’t been finalized, but the leak confirmed what TISA skeptics feared: The United States and EU are leading the charge to block countries from imposing domestic regulations on the multi-trillion-dollar services industries.