The story of the past week in terms of the Trans Pacific Partnership TPP agreement was not Prime Minister John Keys visit to the White House.The more startling news is that our Government, with almost 50 other countries, is negotiating another secret deal in the shadows of the World Trade Organisation. They are calling to negotiate a Trade in Services Agreement Tisa.It is part of a troika: along with the TPP and the deal the US is negotiating with the European Union, it aims to create a new set of global rules that are designed exclusively to serve commercial interests.This is no exaggeration. Last week US corporates held a launch for what they call Team Tisa. The co-chairs are Citigroup, Liberty Mutual, IBM, MetLife, UPS and Walmart. Leading members of Congress and the US Trade Representative were invited to speak.If we thought the TPP was secretive – background documents remain secret for four years after any deal is done – Tisa proponents want to keep their documents secret for five years.They aim to create an unrestricted global market for services, just as TPP is aimed at the Asia-Pacific. That means locking open the door to foreign corporations that dominate the worlds media, IT, finance, tourism, transport, healthcare, education sectors and more.They also want to make light-handed regulation the global norm. A standstill rule aims to freeze the existing level of regulation as the new bottom line.What Wikileaks posted was the draft chapter on financial services. We can assume it will be very similar to the TPPs financial services chapter.This is especially scary, because it aims to extend the model of liberalised and deregulated financial markets that brought us the global financial crisis.
Despite the wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is currently being negotiated in total secrecy by 12 countries. Few people, even within the negotiating countries’ governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement and the public, who it will affect most, none at all. Large corporations, however, are able to see portions of the text, generating a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups and bringing developing country members reduced force, while the public at large gets no say. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief, said:
The selective secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, which has let in a few cashed-up megacorps but excluded everyone else, reveals a telling fear of public scrutiny. By publishing this text we allow the public to engage in issues that will have such a fundamental impact on their lives.