Secrets, Lies, and Trade in Services Agreements

We thought the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement was bad. And then there was TISA. TISA is a world wide Trade in Service Agreement being negotiated in secret.

Even though New Zealand is one of the countries that has been part of negotiations, the first most people will have heard of TISA was via the Wikileaks release last week.

TISA once finalized will cover 68 per cent of world services. It seeks to expand access to foreign markets for private multi national service industries and ensure they receive national and most-favoured nation treatment. The aim is to open up services world wide by doing away with barriers such as:

  • Unfair competition from government subsidized, supported, or owned/controlled enterprises.
  • Prohibitions on cross-border data flow and forced localization – TISA seeks an end to Governments imposing legal restrictions on the the way firms manage and move their data, and requirements to process and store data locally.
  • Difficulty in obtaining licenses and business permits to establish operations or outlets in foreign markets. TISA wants the right to appeal regulatory mechanisms that countries use to control who runs their services.
  • Forced local ownership. A major impediment, and often sizable cost burden, is apparently any requirement that forces multinational service providers to cede ownership and control to locally-based interests.

Not content to come in and plunder our resources, big corporations want carte blanche to run all our services too, not because they care about the operations but for the handsome profit they can make out of it. That profit will head offshore as fast as you can click a mouse.

And according to Wikileaks the current draft gives the impression that, once the negotiations are concluded, the document will be kept classified for five full years.

No political party has the mandate to sign its people up to secret agreements that cannot be undone by a change of government. The National government must, at the very least, immediately inform voters about its part in TISA, and what the agreement contains. Voters go to the polls in just over two months. Anything less makes a mockery of the democratic process.

Opposition parties also need to tell us where they stand on TISA. The Alliance Party would not touch it with a barge pole.

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