The Council of Canadians opposes the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) talks

Brent Patterson
5 years ago

The Council of Canadians is opposed to the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a 50-country deal currently under negotiation in Geneva.

Canada is taking part in the talks along with Australia, 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, representing its 28 member states.

A block on remunicipalizing water and sanitation services
The Transnational Institute highlights, "TiSA could mean that market reforms, such as the privatization of water companies, would become impossible to undo. Participating countries will have to declare and justify not wanting to outsource water services to the market. If water is not on this negative list, the government will be forced to give both national companies as well as multinational businesses a similar treatment. TiSA will make it impossible for governments to reverse privatization or decrease the influence of the private sector. Governments will only be able to choose to maintain privatized services as they are or to extend liberalization."

Public Services International warns, "TiSA would limit and may even prohibit remunicipalization because it would prevent governments from creating or reestablishing public monopolies or similarly 'uncompetitive' forms of service delivery. Of particular concern for remunicipalization projects are the proposed 'standstill' and 'ratchet' provisions in TiSA. The standstill clause would lock in current levels of services liberalization in each country, effectively banning any moves from a market-based to a state-based provision of public services."

The WikiLeaks release in October 2016 of European Union demands also suggests that the European Union wants to lock in a wide list of service sectors to TiSA privatization and deregulation provisions, including public services, such as sanitation and sewage services, in developing countries.

Deregulation of financial services
In the summer of 2016, the Independent reported, "We know, from leaks, that TISA is heavily backed by City of London financial corporations [because TiSA would] lock-in financial sector deregulation – the same framework that caused the 2008 economic crash. TISA could also make it more difficult to limit speculation in the market, to break up banks or to regulate risky financial products."

An obstacle to renewable energy, privacy, migrant rights
That article adds, "We also know that some countries are pushing clauses in TISA which would prevent signatories introducing laws to favour renewable energy over fossil fuels. [It could also] allow companies like Google and Facebook to move personal information to the US where data protection is more lax. [And] some categories of migrant worker may end up being 'independent service suppliers' and [would] consequently not enjoy the right to things like the minimum wage or be allowed to join a trade union, essentially becoming a form of modern indentured labour."

Offshoring health care services
And in 2015, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, "According to a leaked document, [TISA] negotiations ... will include discussion of wide-ranging reforms to national public health systems to promote 'offshoring' of health care services. ...The leaked 'concept paper on health care services within TISA negotiations' ... argues there is 'huge untapped potential for the globalisation of healthcare services', creating massive business opportunities from what is a $US6 trillion per year industry. The proposed regime would involve health professionals authorising patients to be treated in other TISA countries (for reasons including long waiting times in the home country or inadequate expertise for specific medical problems); and the patient's costs being reimbursed through their home country's social security system, private insurance coverage or other healthcare arrangements."

The Global Affairs Canada website (last updated in April 2017) states, "Canada holds a significant interest in the TISA negotiations... The TISA is also supportive of Canada’s progressive approach to trade... Parties will continue their internal consultations and preparations in the interim until a date is determined among the Parties to reconvene for the next formal round of negotiations in 2017."

The Council of Canadians calls on the Trudeau government to immediatley withdraw from the TiSA talks.