Source: Professor Jane Kelsey.
IN THE LARGEST EVER LEAK of documents from a ‘trade’ negotiation, Wikileaks has posted a raft of texts and documents tabled in the Trade in Services Agreement negotiations. The topics range from finance, post and transport to professional services and domestic regulation.
‘This leak sends a resounding message to countries that are determined to negotiate TISA in the shadows of the World Trade Organisation’, said trade in services expert Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland.
‘The 24 parties, including New Zealand, have tried to shroud this deal in even more secrecy than the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Documents are to remain secret until 5 years after the agreement comes into force or negotiations are formally terminated. That’s clearly not going to happen.’
There is a stocktaking meeting in Geneva early July. Professor Kelsey urged the parties to revoke their secrecy pact and resolve to release all the documents, as some TISA countries have begun to do unilaterally.
Among the leaks are updates on financial services and e-commerce texts that were first posted last year. According to Professor Kelsey, they confirm that the world’s most powerful services exporters, acting on behalf of their corporations, refuse to learn any lessons from the global financial crisis and want instead to intensify the risks from barely regulated cross border finance.
‘The e-commerce chapter remains equally worrying’, Professor Kelsey said. ‘They could limit or even prevent governments from requiring firms to hold data locally, and allow them to choose to store it offshore in countries with minimal privacy protection and intrusive spying laws’.
New Zealand’s role stands starkly exposed, most notably by the domestic regulation text. Having failed to get WTO members to agree to extreme neoliberal ‘disciplines’ that require them to adopt light-handed and risk-tolerant approaches to regulation, it is pushing this aggressively through TISA.
‘That failed model brought us finance company collapses, leaky buildings, the Pike River mining disaster, elder-abuse in our rest homes’, Kelsey said.
‘The National government recklessly locked New Zealand governments into this model through the free trade deal with South Korea. Now it wants to bind all the other TISA governments to do the same. If the government has its way, this extreme position will ultimately end up being imposed on the entire 160 members of the WTO, including some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.’
‘Just as growing numbers of New Zealanders have challenged the back door dealings in the TPPA, they need to send the same message over TISA and any other secret negotiation over which we have no say.’