16:51 GMT02 December 2020
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    The WikiLeaks website released secret documents this week related to ongoing negotiations of the controversial Treaty in Services Agreement (TISA) - a proposed international trade deal between 24 parties formally initiated by the United States and EU member states in 2013.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — WikiLeaks uploaded 17 documents this week from the TISA negotiations, the next round of which is scheduled to take place July 6, 2015.

    The disclosures show that TISA seeks to further deregulate financial industries across the globe, including altering domestic rules where internationally-traded services are at play.

    Critics of the TISA deal say it will open the way to supranational regulation of labour laws, medical systems, finance and industrial policy, which will undermine governments' authority to protect their citizens.

    TISA origins and objectives

    TISA grew out of Washington’s frustration at failing to persuade other countries, especially in the developing world, to lower trade barriers in services markets that the United States and other governments have been keen to penetrate for decades.

    The TISA parties represent a subset of the 161-member World Trade Organization where international services trade has been governed by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) since 1995.

    The terms of the GATS treaty have failed to satisfy US ambitions to liberalize services markets across the globe. As a result, Washington initiated TISA talks in 2012 with formal negotiations beginning in March 2013.

    The World Trade Organization members negotiating TISA want to open up trade in services to a greater degree than allowed by GATS and hope the remaining members eventually sign the agreement once it’s finalized.

    The Office of the US Trade Representative claims that TISA’s aim is to promote “fair and open trade across the full spectrum of service sectors, from telecommunications and technology to distribution and delivery services.”

    Critics say TISA attempts to eliminate trade barriers in sectors favourable to Washington but not in areas where liberalization does not serve US interests.

    TISA participants

    The 24 economies currently participating in TISA represent 75 percent of the world’s $44 trillion services market, according to the US Trade Representative.

    The vast majority of participants are high or middle-income countries including the United States, EU member states, Australia, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Japan and Korea, along with several South American countries. TISA participants also include a few lower-income countries such as Pakistan and Paraguay.

    The BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are notably missing from the TISA talks.

    TISA and Obama's free trade agenda

    TISA is one piece in US President Barack Obama’s overarching free trade strategy to supposedly open up “market access” overseas for American companies in order to create more and higher-paying jobs.

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is currently being negotiated in unusual secrecy between the United States and 12 Asian and Pacific Rim countries, excluding China and Russia.

    Opponents of the TPP deal argue that it lacks proper labour standards, could result in US jobs being shipped overseas and imposes US domestic regulations on foreign countries.

    TISA and TPP will both be affected by the Trade Promotion Authority legislation that Obama signed on Monday.

    TPA provides the US president with “fast-track” authority to negotiate international free trade agreements without Congress being able to amend them. Obama is expected to use the Trade Promotion Authority to finalize both TPP and TISA treaties.


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    trade, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), WikiLeaks
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