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TiSA negotiators set Dec. 5-6 as deadline for conclusion of talks

Blue Planet Project founder Maude Barlow speaks against TiSA in Basel, Switzerland, May 2016. Twitter photo by Frantisek Matous.

The Blue Planet Project opposes the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) because it would make it easier to privatize local water systems and harder to remunicipalize them, while its deregulation agenda for the mining and energy sectors would further imperil sources of drinking water.

The talks on TISA include 23 governments representing 50 countries. The countries involved 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, representing its 28 member states.

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.”

And Greenpeace Netherlands has cautioned that TiSA measures would deregulate the energy services and mining sectors, which would invariably result in less protection for source water.

The United States is pushing for “enforceability” in TiSA, with reports suggesting this would rely on the World Trade Organization’s state-to-state dispute method, with a TiSA panel making rulings. And we know from the WikiLeaks release on October 14 of European Union demands that the EU 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.

This summer, 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. 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.”

Earlier this week, Morning Trade reported, “Lead negotiators for TiSA are set to meet [on October 17-18] in Washington in an attempt to bring talks closer to conclusion. The next full round of talks is scheduled for Nov. 2-10, and ministers are aiming for a Dec. 5-6 meeting [in Geneva] as the finish line for the talks.”

The Blue Planet Project is calling for an immediate stop to these negotiations.