Source: Professor Jane Kelsey.
Less than a month ago, Wikileaks posted 17 documents leaked from the secretive negotiations for a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). New Zealand is part of the group of countries calling themselves ‘the Really Good Friends of Services’ who are trying to negotiate the deal.
The process is taking place outside the World Trade Organisation in a move to bypass opposition to expanding ‘trade in services’ rules that favour transnational corporations and constrain governments’ right to regulate in the national interest.
Today, Wikileaks has posted recent texts from April and May 2015, including the proposed core text and annexes on domestic regulation and transparency, and provided expert analysis of those texts (wikileaks.org/tisa/).
In her analysis of the core text, University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey noted that the rules aim to tighten the handcuffs on the freedom of governments to regulate their services, and the way they are constructed is clearly designed to export them back into the WTO.
TISA is a companion to the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, with even more extreme secrecy conditions – in TISA, background documents are to remain secret for five years beyond the agreement coming into force of negotiations being abandoned. For the TPPA the secrecy hangover applies for four years.‘There is clearly no tolerance for this secrecy within the countries participating in TISA. The steady stream of leaks makes a mockery of the confidentiality memorandum, and they seem set to continue.’
‘We are seeing a repeat of what has happened with previous agreements, including the TPPA and the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.’
The leaks of ACTA ultimately led the European Parliament to demand the release of the draft text, and in April 2010 the ministers, including New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser, agreed.
Indeed, Minister Groser said ‘New Zealand has supported the release of the negotiating text, in response to strong public interest, and I am pleased that we have now reached agreement with the other participants in this negotiation. This will make the ACT negotiations more accessible to the public and I hope that it will help the process of reaching a final agreement’.
The TISA negotiations are due to resume in Geneva next week. Professor Kelsey urged the participants to ‘face the reality that these leaks will continue, wave the white flag of surrender, and release the negotiating documents for public scrutiny – as we would expect to happen if the talks were taking place within the WTO.’