New report - TiSA Troubles: services, democracy and corporate rule in the Trump era

July 7, 2017: The TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) talks are currently in limbo pending a signal from the Trump administration about its intentions. This report provides the latest analysis of the leaked texts which restrict governments’ ability to regulate and control the activities of multinational corporations engaged in the delivery of services, and to provide essential services to their citizens through the appropriate mix of public, not-for-profit and private services that they themselves decide.

This new report, co-published by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, examines the negotiations as they stood when they broke off at the end of 2016, and closely analyses the adverse impacts of the proposed agreement on public services and public interest regulation.

Looking ahead, the report considers three possible futures for TiSA:

  1. the U.S. withdraws from the agreement and the talks collapse or are suspended indefinitely;
  2. the U.S. pulls out of the talks, but other parties continue under the leadership of the EU; and
  3. the U.S. recommits to TiSA with a renewed, even more aggressive negotiating mandate.

The third scenario is clearly the most dangerous.

The chief reason why Trump and his advisors favour bilateral talks is that they believe they can get more concessions by asserting US power one-on-one against other countries. They are in no way opposed, in principle, to TiSA-style international deals that promote privatisation or deregulation, an agenda they are vigorously pursuing at home in the US.

Many of the corporate lobbies backing TiSA have close ties to Trump and the agreement has garnered strong support from congressional Republicans. For example, IBM and Walmart are two of the six co-chairs of Team TiSA, the US business coalition promoting TiSA. Meanwhile, Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chief executive officer, and Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, now sit on Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of high-level business advisors to the new administration.

Trump himself has stakes in many services businesses that arguably stand to benefit from TiSA.

But whatever happens, the TiSA’s deregulatory and privatisation agenda are being used as a model in other trade deals, including the TPP, RCEP and other bilateral negotations.