President Obama started a fresh push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) on Friday when he sent Congress a draft Statement of Administrative Action.
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That action means that after 30 days, the White House will be able to present Congress with legislation on the TPP.
And on Tuesday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton chose Ken Salazar, who is an aggressively outspoken supporter of the TPP, to lead her White House transition team, despite the fact that Clinton has come out firmly against the TPP.
Salazar’s appointment raises serious questions about what we can expect from a Clinton administration, and whether she’s sincere in her opposition to the TPP and other so-called “free trade” deals that are still being negotiated.
And it’s important to remember why these trade deals are so dangerous to begin with.
Activists from the right and the left have been working hard to raise awareness about the dangers of the TPP and its transatlantic cousin, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
But by far the most sweeping deal that’s being negotiated in secret and largely overlooked by activists is the Trade in Services Agreement, also known as TiSA.
TiSA will undermine citizens’ privacy and governments’ sovereignty, and negotiators are hoping to have a deal finalized by the end of this year.
Paola Casale at EconomyInCrisis writes bluntly about TiSA that, “You may be asking: ‘how does this affect me?’ The best one sentence response I can come up with is: ‘how does this not affect you.'”
Fifty-one countries would be initially governed by TiSA, including the United States, the European Union, and 22 other nations from around the world, representing 70 percent of the world’s services’ trade.
If it goes into effect, it would cover close to 80 percent of the US economy that falls under the heading of “services.”
“Services” is a broad term that covers all sorts of things, such as shipping, air travel, e-commerce, telecommunications, the internet, health care, financial services, engineering and the list goes on and on.
Based on leaked texts and summaries published by the European Union, it’s clear that TiSA aims to go even further than the World Trade Organization (WTO) to globalize markets, functionally destroy national borders, and to create new corporate-friendly rules and regulations in sectors like e-commerce and financial services.
TiSA would include a “standstill clause” for financial services, and Switzerland has proposed that the agreement force all signatories to allow “any new financial service” to enter the market, which would virtually guarantee that banks all over the world, freed from sovereign regulation, would adopt the same sort of reckless speculation that destroyed the global economy just eight years ago.
The deal also aims to make it so that banks and e-commerce outlets like Amazon could send an individual’s data out of a TiSA country for processing, regardless of national privacy laws, breaking with centuries of precedent on locally kept business records accounting to David Dayen at The New Republic.
Alberto Mucci recently explained in an article on Politico that, “TiSA deals with barriers to services’ trade such as the conditions by which lawyers from Norway might be able to practice in the United States or German engineers might gain easier access to Mexico.”
In other words, TiSA will have profound impacts on immigration and employment policies in every single country that takes part in the agreement.
More than that, it will cripple our democratic republic by making it even easier for corporations to manage or strike down our public laws.
In recent months under existing trade laws, we’ve seen Canada and Mexico successfully sue the United States to force us to overturn our “Country Of Origin Labeling” law for meat imports.
And Transcanada is suing the United States right now for $15 billion as retaliation for President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Dayen also reported last year that under TiSA, “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 [bad] 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.”
Based on leaked documents, we know that democratically passed government regulations would only be allowed so long as they are not “more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of service.”
That would likely mean gutting important rules on financial services, foreign investment limits and it could force state-owned public services around the world to compete with foreign corporations.
Almost every single country that’s taking part in the TiSA negotiations is already part of the WTO, and the agreement is actually based on the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services, also known as GATS, which includes 159 member countries.
And it’s telling that TiSA involves WTO member nations and is based on the WTO, because as Dayen points out, “The only reason to re-write the rules is to replace GATS, which the European Union readily admits.”
On the European Commission’s webpage it says very clearly that “if enough WTO members join, TiSA could be turned into a broader WTO agreement.”
In other words, TiSA isn’t just another sweeping regional trade agreement like the TPP or the TTIP.
TiSA aims to corporatize markets and functionally destroy borders around the world so that Corporate Big Brother can know everything about everyone, and so that Big Business can sell anything to anyone, no matter the harm it may cause.
Call your lawmakers and tell them that you oppose any trade deal that gives corporations the ability to challenge the sovereignty of governments around the world.
Instead, democratic republics should be able to pass and enforce laws and trade policies that first serve the best interests of its citizens instead of transnational corporations and billionaires.
Just say “no” to TPP, TTIP and especially to TiSA.