Reports An early analysis of TiSA by Public Services International


An early analysis of TiSA by Public Services International

Highly secretive talks began in 2012 to establish a new trade agreement, the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). The group of countries1 negotiating TISA have given themselves an insider joke for a name, the 'Really Good Friends of Services', to signal how truly committed they are to promoting the interests of services corporations. But there is nothing funny about the sweeping, permanent restrictions on public services and regulation that could be the impact of their work.

The idea for TISA originated with trade think tanks and lobbyists for transnational corporations unhappy with the pace of services negotiations at the World Trade Organization. The Coalition of Services Industries has been clear about how ambitious TISA negotiators should be in achieving privatization and deregulation. Testifying to the US government in his capacity as Coalition chair, Samuel Di Piazza, a senior banker with Citigroup, stated that TISA countries should ‘modify or eliminate regulations’ within their borders. According to Di Piazza, banks, insurance companies, media and other corporations that do business globally should be able to operate in an environment where the determinants are ‘market based, not government-based’. Di Piazza’s vision of the future under TISA is one without publicly delivered or regulated services, where “free market principles can govern the investment in, and delivery of, services on a transnational scale.”

The sweeping deregulation the Coalition is seeking would eliminate policy space for governments at all levels. For example Walmart, a member of the Coalition of Services Industries, sees TISA as a way to free itself of local government zoning regulations and restrictions on store size. Walmart also wants TISA to end the restrictions on sales of alcohol and tobacco, an area often under the jurisdiction of state and provincial governments.