Statement von Alliance Sud an der von Greenpeace Niederlande organisierten Medienkonferenz vom 20. September in Genf
Among the 50 countries that participate in the TISA negotiations, there are also developing ones: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru. Uruguay and Paraguay (as well as Singapore) have left the negotiations. It is very difficult for these countries to catch all the issues at stake in this agreement. They are put under strong pressure.
The main problems for them are the following:
1) National schedules of commitements
No developing country has published its national schedule. Therefore we don’t know if they have opened up their public services to foreign competition or if they have accepted requests of this kind from other countries in sensitive sectors (ex education).
Where water has been privatized, its price has skyrocketed (Ghana, Mauritania).
The negative list and the ratchet and standstill clauses for national treatment are dangerous for the sovereignty of all countries, but even more so for developing ones, that still have a lot to regulate in the future, especially in social, environmental, health matters and for consumers protection. Currently, the US is putting pressure on the participants to take away reservations to new services (the ones that don’t exist yet, but may arise in the future). This is particularly dangerous for developing countries: by taking a commitment under international law to give “full national treatment” to all future services, they give up their sovereign right to introduce measures (“joint-ventures”, partnerships, etc) that would allow their economies to catch up with new forms of production.
Annex on Transparency: it would oblige every State party to publish in advance any bill or proposed regulation. Multinationals would have a solid legal basis under international law to promote their commercial interests directly with domestic regulators and they could enforce it through the dispute settlement mechanisms foreseen by TISA.
Annex on Localization: it aims to forbid the measures usually adopted by developing countries to preserve the policy space they need for development. For ex, it would forbid “local content requirements”, such as the obligation to use a minimum content of local goods and services in the production of services by foreign multinationals. It would also forbid the “obligations to have a maximum amount of capital”, that is the maximum amount that foreign multinationals can invest in a local enterprise (some countries require joint-ventures with local enterprises). It would prohibit the requirements to transfer technology.
Annex on domestic regulations: it seeks to limit domestic regulations in order for them not to be an “unnecessary barrier to trade”. This is a threat to social and environmental standards and to consumer protection. This is particularly true in developing countries, where these standards are often still to be adopted and/or not (yet) applied.
Annex on State-owned enterprises (SOEs): the liberalization of these enterprises is particularly delicate in developing countries, where the participation of the private sector has resulted too often in the “privatization of benefits” and “nationalizations of losses” when foreign investors have stepped out of non profitable projects.
Annex on professional services: to include private education in such an annex could mean, particularly in institutionally weaker countries, a two-speed educational system , where public education is marginalized little by little by private foreign schools and wealthier students get away from the public system to go to the private one.
Annex on financial services: a further liberalization and deregulation of financial services (authorization of new financial services, self-regulation, etc) is a threat to financial stability and an additional obstacle for recovering from the financial and economic crisis (that are not over yet).
Other annexes, like the one on e-commerce and the one on telecommunications, are also a threat for developing countries, but other speakers have already talked about them, so I will not touch upon them here.
Certification (US): TISA, like all the free-trade agreements signed by the US, will have to go through the process of “certification”, whereby, before ratifying a treaty, the US Congress must make sure that the state parties have amended their laws and regulations along the interpretation of the US. This process has been used recently for the ratification of free-trade agreements with Peru, Guatemala and Australia that were pushed by the US to change their laws on land rights, pharmaceutical products, and copyrights. This is particularly dangerous for developing countries.
The WTO and the creation of new standards: If TISA goes through, developed countries may lose interest once for all in the Doha Round. Whatever one thinks of this round, developing countries see it as their last chance to re-equilibrate unfair rules and abolish subsidies in developed countries, particularly in agriculture. Developed countries will try to “multilateralize” TISA, meaning that its rules would apply to all WTO members
TISA, and the other mega deals (TTIP, TPP and CETA) are rewriting the rules of international trade. Sooner or later, they may apply even to (developing) countries that have not negotiated them.