Restore Democracy and Free Speech, Please.

This site is based on a hope that if informed about anti-democracy trade deals that freeze progress on new public services, and create a race to the bottom on environmental and labor standards, and privatize existing services of all kinds, that we might somehow be able to change course and come together in consensus to restore true democracy by peaceful and rational means.

Long Introduction to GATS

“Governments are free in principle to pursue any national policy objectives provided the relevant measures are compatible with the GATS.” –WTO, Oct. 1999

"TISA's Threat to Democracy" A Trade Justice Alliance Webinar

"The TISA would override your Constitution, override your domestic laws" - 55:30 (Sanya Reid Smith) 2 hour video with: Sanya Reid Smith, Legal Advisor and Senior Researcher, Third World Network, Deborah James, Director of International Programs at the Center for Economic and Policy Research ABOUT TISA: TISA, the Trade in Services Agreement or TiSA, is the largest multilateral trade deal ever negotiated, and currently includes 50 countries. TiSA would set the rules for “services” that the text defines so broadly as to encompass almost all areas of our lives. TiSA would apply to approximately 80% of the global economy yet the massive corporate-designed agreement has been negotiated completely behind closed doors without public input. Without WikiLeaks, we would know very little. TiSA would inhibit regulations of the very banks that brought down the global economy, destroy online privacy and data protections and would legally codify global privatization of the commons, including access to clean water, public education and quality health care. TiSA would entrench neoliberal dirty energy projects like fracking and tar sands at the expense of renewables like solar and wind power. Despite President Trump’s proclaimed opposition to TPP, and his checkered messages around NAFTA, he has yet to say one word about TiSA which has farther-reaching implications.

Recently Added Links , Articles and News

Ongoing negotiations on countries domestic regulations under the GATS Article 1:4 mandate.

The GATS already contains disciplines on barriers to trade in services in the form of restrictions on https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/26-gats_01_e.htm#art16">market access (Article XVI) and on https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/26-gats_01_e.htm#art17 national treatment</a> (Article XVII). Market access restrictions encompass quantitative restrictions such as limitations on the number of services suppliers, total value of services transactions or assets, total number of services operations, the total quantity of services output, the total number of persons that may be employed, as well as measures restricting or requiring specific types of legal entity or joint venture, and foreign equity limitations. <p> The obligation of national treatment prohibits the discriminatory treatment of foreign services and services suppliers when compared to domestic services and services suppliers. In drafting the GATS, negotiators recognized that non-quantitative, non-discriminatory measures relating to licensing and qualification requirements and procedures, and technical standards could also adversely affect trade in services. For example, excessively lengthy, complex and opaque licensing procedures may discourage foreign services providers from doing business in the market of another WTO member. By the same token, lack of objective and transparent criteria, on the basis of which authorities would grant a qualification, may disguise protectionist intentions. Article VI:4 is not intended to start a deregulatory process, but rather to lead to better regulation that has the potential to address and prevent undesirable regulatory practices. In more general terms, WTO negotiations on domestic regulation disciplines seek to boost good regulatory practices and to enhance regulatory quality, with a view to boosting economic growth and development. </p> Evolution of the negotiations Between 1995 and 1998, WTO members negotiated in the Working Party on Professional Services the <a href="http://docsonline.wto.org/imrd/directdoc.asp?DDFDocuments/t/s/l/63.doc" target="_blank">Disciplines on Domestic Regulation in the Accountancy Sector</a> (<u>S/L/64</u>) and adopted the Guidelines for Mutual Recognition Agreements or Arrangements in the Accountancy Sector (S/L/38). The Accountancy Disciplines were intended to be integrated into the GATS at the end of the Doha Round of trade negotiations (S/L/63). Therefore, they have not yet entered into force. Subsequently, a <a href="https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/serv_e/s_coun_e.htm#domestic">Working Party on Domestic Regulation</a> was established in 1999 for the continuation of the negotiations, replacing the earlier Working Party on Professional Services. The mandate of the Working Party is to develop generally applicable disciplines and to develop disciplines as appropriate for individual sectors.</p> <p> WTO members have focused on negotiating general disciplines on domestic regulation applicable to any services sectors within the scope of the GATS. Members felt that work on general disciplines would be more efficient than negotiating specific disciplines for each sector. </p> <p> In December 2005, the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration called on members to intensify negotiations and to develop a text for adoption before the end of the Doha Round.&nbsp; </p> <p> In the Working Party on Domestic Regulation, more than 60 WTO members have submitted drafting proposals. These were consolidated into a number of texts issued by the chair of the working party. &nbsp;The most recent was contained in a 2011 <a href="http://docsonline.wto.org/imrd/directdoc.asp?DDFDocuments/t/s/wpdr/w45.doc" target="_blank" title="MS word format; opens in a new window">Progress Report</a> reflecting progress in the negotiations up to 2011 and containing possible options for disciplines on domestic regulation.&nbsp;</p> <p>Following a slowdown in negotiations between 2012 and 2015, activities were revived in 2016, with a number of text proposals submitted by members in the hope of securing an outcome by the 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires in December 2017. However, no outcome was achieved at MC11. </p> The Working Party on Domestic Regulation met most recently in March 2019 to discuss a revised proposal for disciplines on domestic regulation.</p>

A teaser: TISA, Trump and the security industry by Jane Herbstritt

Question: What’s the connection between US President Donald Trump, GEO group – the private prison operator that runs Dungavel immigration centre, and TISA, the super-privatisation global trade deal? The answer: They all make, or will make, huge profits for the security industry (the companies that run for-profit prisons and immigration centres in the UK and the US).

Private prisons in Australia: our 20 year trial

by John Alizzi ---- The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons – Dostoevsky, The House of the Dead ----- Prisons run by private companies are now part of many justice systems around the world. Archaic signs reading ‘Her Majesty’s Prison’ are far from the emerging reality of modern, for-profit facilities. State and Federal governments worldwide have turned to private enterprise to provide better and cheaper services – “efficiency” – contracting out what is traditionally a public responsibility. ------ In Australia, whether the various trials of private prisons in the last 20 years will give way to sweeping privatisation, remain as is, or revert back to full public stewardship is unclear. What are the prospects of private prisons in Australia, and what are the likely implications for prisoners, prison staff, and public safety?

Prison Privatization in Australia (report)

Prison Privatisation in Australia: The State of the Nation Accountability, Costs, Performance and Efficiency Associate Professor Jane Andrew, Dr Max Baker and Dr Philip Roberts

Private prisons, TiSA and the human services privatisation creep

TiSA, according to WikiLeaks and other whistleblowing sites, is a deal that will “lock in” the privatisation of services — even in cases where private service delivery has failed. Governments would never be able to return water, energy, health, education or other services to public hands. Perhaps this is why there is such secrecy and a five-year clause preventing public access to the TiSA agreement after it has been signed. We have seen the Australian Federal Government’s attitude towards human services with Centrelink and Medicare, and the absolute lack of transparency when it comes to the treatment of private prison operators in Australia. Should our tax payer dollars be used to pay private, overseas companies bonuses for fulfilling their contract’s? If companies need incentives to do a good job it sounds like human services belongs in the hands of public. When will state government’s using private, prison operators admit that a lack of staffing appears to be much of that sectors problems? And, lastly, I implore you to help create awareness about this, if they come for our services it will be the end of Australia or the world as we know it.

Justice Action brief on prisons and privatization and asylum seekers in privatized prisons.

(Note, this is a .doc file, compatible with Open Office and MS Word, etc.)

‘It was absolute hell’: Inside the private prison

Phil Taylor and Christine Cooper

“a State cannot use safety as a pretext for inhibiting market growth.”

"The state of Washington issued regulations in 2019 that would limit the volatility of crude oil being transported by rail through the state. As DeSmog has reported, lowering the volatility of dangerous crude oil like the Bakken oil from North Dakota is necessary to remove the threats of these bomb trains. To limit the volatility of the crude oil being produced in the Bakken region that is currently being shipped by rail to Washington refineries, oil producers would need to stabilize the oil by removing volatile natural gas liquids like propane and butane — something producers refuse to do because those natural gas liquids that make the oil more volatile and dangerous also make it more valuable to refineries. In 2019 Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources, made it clear that to remove the volatile elements of the Bakken crude oil mixture would “devalue the crude oil immensely.” In 2020, however, PHMSA overruled Washington and argued that it did so because “a State cannot use safety as a pretext for inhibiting market growth.” As a result, the dangerous trains continued to move volatile oil through Washington. In December, a train full of volatile Bakken crude oil was going seven miles per hour on a straight flat track in Custer, Washington. It derailed and the tank cars ruptured and spilled oil which immediately ignited in the middle of town. As it has done with the dangerous practice of moving oil and ethanol by rail, by not requiring known safety improvements like modern ECP brakes for LNG trains, PHMSA is also effectively allowing the rail industry to volunteer to make any safety improvements instead of doing its job of regulating safety."

Inside the Secretive World of Tax-Avoidance Experts (OffshoreAlert)

(Brooke Harrington) A behind-the-scenes, eye-witness account of the international wealth management profession from a sociologist who has spent the last eight years researching it, during which time she trained to become a wealth manager and visited 18 offshore jurisdictions.