A theft of all of our futures and decent work, on a potentially massive scale

A race to the bottom instead of a race to the top?

A test dispute under a trade deal nobody in the US seems to knows about in the WTO, filed in March 2016, and allegedly over visa fees, is actually about what is defined by "non-immigration" (in WTO-speak officially "movement of natural persons")  for work, and who should hold jurisdiction over that, as well as about visa quotas, wages for guest workers, and developed country wages.

The entire world of working could be radically changed, shifting many aspects of employment, such a far reaching change that the effects are totally unpredictable, and in my opinion, this huge change, is very ill advised.  Some of the issues are below, but please scroll down to read the related links first and then the other links for far more info. Also keep in mind that I am quite opinionated. Were I an oligarch or a trans-national corporation, I might think very differently. Here is an incomplete jumble of issues..

Should countries like the US keep their ability to maintain laws which limit foreign corporations ability to import their work forces - including notorious "body shop" temping firms, despite the US and other countries having agreed two decades ago in the 90s to possibly allow an unlimited number of qualified firms labor force in. signing a trade deal allegedly liberalizing services, which was clearly intending to change the entire world of work dramatically, and was signed during the so called Bubble Era when conditions for labor were dramatically different than today.

Some interpretations could have very far reaching implications. suddenly throwing the US's and many other countries middle class under the bus in the name of much higher profits. Tens of millions of jobs could be impacted in the US alone, possibly a third or more, continuing a trend that has already precariatized much skilled work in many other parts of the world.

For more than three decades, a new kind of migrant labor has been hyped as the solution to falling birthrates and rising wages in the developed world. Its hyped as the only way to pull the Least Developed Nations wealthiest elites out of (relative) poverty, compared to the billionaires elsewhere. But the real goal is simply much higher profits and lower wages internationally, for transnational corporations.

The price may be paid by the departing so called "indigenous workers" in developed countries, including many legal immigrants and their children, as well as many others, including historically disadvantaged groups, women, men, and most others, and the would be immigrant workers in the labor supplying countries, in a change which could dramatically shrink the size of the middle class and capture migration for corporations, undermining remittances and decent wages for workers of all kinds, which will likely drastically reduce remittances which elites claim are wasted on spending that doesn't go to them. Instead it goes to much poorer segments of the population in many cases, although thats remittances for low skilled but relatively high wage labor. (Many high skill workers are paid very low wages, surprisingly little considering that they are officially classified as high skill labor).

This global grab has been planned for a very long time and rosy estimates have for decades predicted huge increases in the biggest corporations profits, (efficiency gains) but many economists are crying foul, as these estimates, all based on the same now discredited general equilibrium model, are leaving all sorts of things out

What will happen to the potentially millions or even possibly billions of displaced workers, internationally? They will be on their own. Many may suddenly be buried in debt.

WTO Dispute DS503 - over visa quotas and whether national laws on minimum wages apply to guest workers (or can they be paid less than US minimum wage) and irreversibly opening the nation to vast expansions in numbers of disempowered guest workers to replace allegedly overpaid US workers could lead to large scale job losses

in all the service sectors committed in the US Schedule of Specific Commitments, and at all skill levels, from very skilled workers like doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, computer programmers, engineers, adult education, construction and energy and environmental workers, etc. Jobs would be put up for international bidding. Filed March 2016, could be decided by the DSB whenever it is able to convene a quorum which is currently being blocked by the US. Likely would be able to rule and require us to conform all our laws. Could lead to a GATS visa automatically being granted to guest worker supplying companies as an entitlement we would be unable to deny, because guest workers are not immigration, they are intra-corporate transferees.

Is media spinning that U.S." is about to cripple the World Trade Organization’s dispute-settling system" true? Not in the way they want us to think it.

Example of the spin: "Dec 9, 2019 "The governance of international trade is on track to suffer serious damage this week as the United States carries out a long-standing threat to cripple the World Trade Organization’s system for settling disputes. The WTO’s Appellate Body, which adjudicates on contested rulings over disputes between member countries, will become unable to function when Washington exercises a veto and blocks new judges from being appointed to replace two whose terms of office are expiring......"

Labor Mobility-by Sherry Stephenson and Gary Hufbauer

In international services trade, labor mobility is conceptualized as the temporary movement of natural persons and is categorized as mode 4. Article I.2 (d) of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) defines mode 4 as the supply of a service “by a service supplier of one Member, through presence of natural persons of a Member in the territory of any other Member.” A natural person of another member is defined as a natural person who resides in the territory of that other Member or any other Member, and who under the law of that other Member: (i) is a national of that other Member; or (ii) has the right of permanent residence in that other Member . . .” (Article XVIII[k])

The WTO Dispute Settlement System: An Analysis of India’s Experience and Current Reform Proposals

ORF Occasional Paper_209 - An analysis from India's perspective of the US's not allowing the operation of the Dispute Settlement Body, of course, preventing the settlement of the DS503 case, and possible loss of millions of US jobs to outsourcing "body shop" companies. Most of the US, EU, Australian, etc. workers who could be impacted have no idea that the WTO even has jurisdiction over services.

"Breaking the rules to prevent rule-breaking? The GATS and service mobility: drawing lines between genuine immigration control and protectionism"

Essential article on DS-503 WTO dispute that could drastically impact the size of the middle class in the US and in many other countries all around the world. (by reducing its size due to large scale job outsourcing) Would also lower the wages across the board for workers. Would heavily impact public services. GATS 'movement of natural persons' (Mode Four) and its Mode Three are the most controversial parts of the longstanding trade deal because they attempt to create new rights to which seem to allow companies bypassing national labor laws. This case could take intra-company cross border labor for work- "non-immigrant" temporary migration to work out of hands of governments and put it in the hands of the WTO. The US is a test case and the decision might be binding on many other countries as well. Could dramatically lower wages for many professions at all skill levels, from professional to fairly basic. Any job that has been the subject of GATS commitments in a country, which are very broad. In the US could easily impact tens of millions of jobs cutting many careers short. Even with visa quotas IT has already been greatly impacted, leaving many workers struggling to find work. Situation is likely to get much much worse if the WTO panel decides in India's favor. Indian-affiliated "US" IT firms are notorious for not hiring US workers, even US workers with Indian backgrounds. They want dis-empowered workers whose status in the US depends on their job. This is a very bad situation that could become the norm in dozens of high employment fields. Might cause extreme loss of trust in government, a shift we might not recover from.

COMMUNICATION FROM ARGENTINA, BOLIVIA, BRAZIL, CHILE, COLOMBIA, INDIA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, THAILAND AND URUGUAY Categories of Natural Persons for Commitments under Mode 4 of GATS

"Mode 4 – Movement of Natural Persons to Provide Services Let’s start with the last of these categories first. A better term for “Mode 4” would be “domestic immigration policy.” In the United States, the Constitution gives the Congress exclusive authority for setting our domestic immigration policy (Article I-8.) The very notion that immigration policy would be set via GATS Mode 4 negotiations by trade negotiators in Geneva has our congressional leaders deeply concerned. Indeed, when such immigration provisions were slipped into U.S. Free 4Trade Agreements with Singapore and Chile, the agreements were nearly rejected by Congress and a commitment was obtained from the Bush Administration that future trade pacts would never again contain such provisions. I understand that here in the European Union there have been equally heated debates over immigration policy and I assume there are the same concerns about separation of powers and democratic accountability here as well. A group of developing countries led by India have joined together to forward a common position on Mode 4 that focuses on the cross border movement of professionals, but does not insist that these professionals are paid the same wages as their peers in developed nations. 5 Moreover, these proposals would set up a system within countries by which a class of workers would have their basic rights – indeed their very right to be in a country – controlled by their employer not the laws of the country in which they are working. This would not only undercut wages, work hours, vacation policy, the right to organize, and other labor policy in developed countries and generate foreseeably ugly social tension, but it would also exacerbate the problems of “brain drain” in the developing world. A respected study presented at the WTO that advocated increased Mode 4 liberalization showed that the community left behind by Mode 4 workers suffers significantly increased welfare costs. In other words, developing countries pay dearly for “brain drain” associated with outward migrating professionals. 6 Plus, the ongoing tragedy presented by the immigration of doctors and nurses from Africa to Europe and the United States has been well-documented. 7 Moreover, there have been various alarming proposals on licensing and qualification requirements (in the context of the Working Party on Domestic Regulations which is discussed in detail below). What is envisioned here are “harmonization exams” to establish equivalency and to facilitate the movement of workers across borders. National, state or provincial licensing requirements and “language competency” are characterized as unnecessary obstacles to the smooth flow of workers across borders. 8 Once professional service sectors are signed up to the GATS, “disciplines” are envisioned which would apply a “necessity test” to all domestic regulations relating to that profession. The WTO has already completed one such set of rules which apply to the accounting sector and require that licensing, qualification and technical standards be “no more trade restrictive than necessary.”" (quote from Lori Wallach Testimony to EU. The linked document is the proposal by a group of developing countries to set up and lock in a return to indentured servitude. They see this as their pay back for being in the WTO. It replaces immigration with corporate capture, for example, in the US, L1B visas - similar to H1B but with much lower wages and almost no rights. This is being pushed in on us very skillfully by what amounts to an international "coalition of the wealthy" under the radar as part of the GATS' and similar "agreements" coercive global takeover.)

On sweatshop jobs and decent work

This paper argues that while rooting out sweatshop conditions raises unemployment, the potential gains include an increase in decent work employment, a pro-worker shift in distribution, and an improvement in overall efficiency. In a search model of employment inspired by firm- and household-level evidence about the harm that sweatshop conditions pose to workers' capability to be productive at work and to be vertically mobile, this paper unpacks the irony of job losses and efficiency gains by examining equilibria where, unless regulations are in place, employers tolerate unproductive sweatshop conditions, and where workers accept insufficiently compensating sweatshop wages.

Movement of Natural Persons (Mode-4) Under GATS: Advantage Developing Countries

(by Dipankar Dey) "The actual potential of Mode-4 could not be exploited for the benefit of developing countries that enjoy comparative advantage in this mode over others. The developed countries have offered almost nothing in the Mode-4 negotiation despite liberalizing labor mobility via other mechanisms. So far, the developing country policy makers have failed to exploit the comparative advantage they claim to enjoy in Mode-4. They should be blamed either for their inability to assess the true potential of this mode of service or for their failure to chalk out an effective strategy during negotiation. The Southern negotiators should prepare themselves with appropriate strategy and tactics to enable them to put pressure on their Northern counterparts, for binding the latter's commitments on liberal market access, better working condition and protection of human rights for the immigrant workers." (See also the references cited in this essay.)

Industry Lobbyists Gloss Over Red Flags: Trade and Public Policy Expert Lori Wallach's Testimony to the European Union

LORI WALLACH's EXPERT TESTIMONY TO THE EU: GOOD LEGISLATORS ARE BEING DECEIVED BY INSIDER BAD APPLE LEGISLATORS AND LOBBYISTS TO THINK THEY STILL HAVE POWER, THAT THEY DON'T, THAT HAS BEEN STOLEN FROM THEM. This is why Biden will veto Medicare For All, as HE IS ONE OF THE INSIDER BAD APPLES. Wallach:"Indeed, in parliaments around the world, many legislators consider that service sector policy – how to ensure that residents have health care, safe water, affordable electricity and gas and quality education – is within their jurisdiction rather than subject to distant “trade” negotiations. And, to the extent that most legislators are even aware of the negotiations now underway at the WTO on the GATS, their information largely comes from the perspective of service sector businesses who view the negotiations as a tool to go on the offensive to seek service sector business opportunities in other countries."

"TTIP, CETA and TISA – what you need to know about EU trade agreements " (by UNISON global trade union)

(Note, liberalize means privatize and globalize, i.e. outsource often across international borders, typically via a tender, the lowest qualified bidding subcontractor gets the entitlement to do the work. Countries have to allow it, with the rationale being its temporary to allow a subcontracting firm to do business, saving money on wages, increasing profitability for firms, not permanently for immigration. Terms can be quite long, though even decades, employees are often kept in a state of precarity. Think global gig economy. or NAFTA for the rest of the jobs, FTAs undermine wages strongly. They wll start out with public sector jobs like teaching, nursing and IT for academia, etc.)

The Behavioral Dynamics of Positive and Negative Listing in Services Trade Liberalization: A Look at the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) Negotiations

"From a standard rational choice perspective, the choice architecture of an international trade in services liberalization scheme as structured around either positive or negative listing should not have any appreciable effect on the depth and breadth of commitment. In contrast, behavioral economics, in particular Prospect Theory and phenomena such as framing effects and status quo bias, suggest that a negative list approach would be more conducive to economic liberalization. Several additional complicating factors, such as sectorial considerations, negotiating asymmetries and transaction costs, preclude this hypothesis from being subjected to reliable empirical testing. However, a case study of the currently ongoing negotiations towards a plurilateral Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), reveals that trade diplomats are acutely attuned to the potential importance of such negotiated ‘choice architecture’, and that behavioral effects can have significant influence on negotiations. This demonstrates that behavioral dynamics, especially compromise effects, are a significant part of international trade talks, at least with respect to services trade. Keywords: WTO, Trade in Services, international law, negotiations, Trade in Services Agreement, behavioral economics, framing effects, compromise effects" -----------------comment--------- This is what's meant by "privatization by stealth" Negative list promotes extreme dishonesty in politicians because people assume something has to happen for their future policy space, jobs, working environment to have been committed away, actually, its the opposite, something has to happen for them not to be stolen. A carve out. Otherwise it goes on autopilot and once its done, the various Trojan horse clauses m like standstill, rollback, ratchet, and indirect expropriation/ISDS make privatization virtually irreversible. See ISDS, also see the IntraEUBITS topic.

International Regulatory Initiatives in Services: Background Note by the Secretariat - WTO Document S/C/W/97

The main goal of the GATS is trading services, roughly 80% of a modern economy and including most jobs. This is an area that most people don't associate with trade nor do they realize that its been put in the hands of the WTO. One important part of the neoliberal project is trade across borders in various kinds of work. Importing workers to do jobs they can do more economically than "locals". (This initiative was only in its earliest stages in 1997 when this Note was written, now that its more than 20 yrs later its much farther along, but, except in a few service sectors like IT, the US is dragging its feet). Eventually the neoliberal project hopes that trillions of dollars "now wasted on over-high wages" could be "saved" and transformed into profits. Basically, like NAFTA, but for the rest of the country's jobs. Under Track Two of the GATS, barriers to global outsourcing, offshoring, etc. of professional and non-professional services such as work permit or visa barriers or anti-discrimination statutes that might impede outsourcing and similar are quietly being eliminated on a global scale. Outsourcing and offshoring jobs that people depend on to eat out from underneath entire countries and generations of workers is a very sensitive subject so the strategy is "Privatization by stealth".

The "nonprofit-industrial complex"

"For folks who have worked at nonprofits, one of the most obvious problems is the professionalization of nonprofit work, including the growing numbers of people seeking advanced degrees in nonprofit management — which seeks to bring corporate management techniques to the world of nonprofits. Nonprofits may be required to have employees with certain advanced degrees in order to bill for services and receive funding from programs, such as Medi-Cal in California or the federal Medicaid health care program. Foundations themselves may place whatever stipulations they want in grants, including requiring those who provide services to have advanced degrees, such as a PhD in psychology, even if it’s not necessarily needed. This professionalization creates stratification between nonprofit employees and the clients they serve, as well as among those with and without such degrees within a nonprofit. One consequence of this dynamic is that the people who are clients of service nonprofits are practically locked out of jobs at these organizations — which is a shame because the people who experience the problems are the ones who should be crafting the solutions."

IT Sector being "extraordinarily disrupted" by abuse of L-1B and H-1B visa programs on a large scale to replace US workers, this is being caused in no small part by GATS.

In particular, GATS' "movement of natural persons" provisions. (GATS' 'Mode Four') which can pay as little as US minimum wage. (even that is a subject of dispute by developing countries who claim that under trade agreements - specifically under visas like the L-1B visa, that they have a right to pay their temporary non-immigrant visa holding workers, whatever they want. This right is claimed under the original Uruguay Round and is the subject of WTO dispute DS 503, filed in March 2016 by India, and still to my knowledge unresolved.)

Million Dollar Shack: Trapped in Silicon Valley's Housing Bubble

"Our family has been priced out! Has the Bay Area gone crazy? Real estate prices have doubled in the last few years, a tent in the backyard can rent for $900/month, foreign investors are driving up prices, evictions and rent hikes are everywhere, people are commuting longer than ever, the middle class is disappearing, empty investment homes are everywhere, and locals are leaving in record numbers. The worst part? Some people are calling it "progress"". ‪ http://milliondollarshack.com/

Sanya Reid Smith explains what TISA does in a way people should be able to see blocks Medicare For All

A new Medicare For All (as opposed to one that pre-existed GATS and the WTO) seems to conflict with everything TISA stands for. Note that TISA is also supposed to be merged with GATS in the future. Medicare For All would be a ""new monopoly" (forbidden by GATS) and a "state owned enterprise" that "affects trade in" "financial services" (health insurance for example) Altering the conditions of competition, and it also would potentially be trade distorting. It also would not be "no more burdensome than necessary" (to ensure the quality of the service) as the WTO GATS requires. The scope of those affected would likely also be seen as far too large for any government measure. As long as we are in these deals it would likely have to be the least possible.

Statement on WTO GATS Mode 4 Negotiations by 77 Civil Society Organizations

“The WTO has no mandate to negotiate migration policy, nor should it,” said a statement released today by 77 groups from several countries. - - Signers include large human rights and labor organizations, including Migrant Rights International, the Teamsters Union, the American Friends Service Committee, Public Services International, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (USA), Migrant Forum Asia, Welfare Association of Repatriated Bangladeshi Employees, ATTAC Mazowsze (Poland), National Union of Public and General Employees (Canada), and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (Philippines).

AFSC's "Trade Matters" back issues (archive.org)

This is from the American Friends Service Committee, its a periodical they published up until a few years ago that I think did a very good job of framing some of the issues that make trade in services deals important to know about, controversial and difficult to discuss. (Archived so need to click one extra time to select a date)

AFSC:Trade Agreements and Guest Worker Programs

Trade agreements lock in entitlements for foreign firms to take publicly funded jobs if they are the lowest qualified bidders, they also must give foreign companies such abnormally favorable conditions that it is almost certain they will be.

Informal Brief: The WTO Services Negotiations and Migrant Workers (AFSC)

As the World Trade Organization (WTO) gears up for the next ministerial meeting to be held December 2005 in Hong Kong, some developing country governments are pushing for an expansion of the types of labor currently covered under the services agreement. Under the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS), services are categorized into four “modes”. These include: Mode 1 ­ Providing services abroad Mode 2 ­ Consumption of services abroad Mode 3 ­ Commercial Presence ­ Subsidiary branches including service providers such as a banks, hospitals, or construction ­firms that are owned by a foreign company Mode 4 – Temporary movement of natural persons (workers) acro ss boarders to provide services Mode 4 and temporary workers Sectors currently covered under GATS Mode 4 commitments focus on highly skilled jobs, such as doctors, nurses, company executives—sectors favored by current visa systems. Also favored by current commitments are categories of special importance to Mode 3, commercial presence, such as intra­company transferees. Some developing country governments want to expand services covered under Mode 4 to include medium and low ­skilled workers, such as domestic help or construction, thus covering sectors in which they hold a competitive advantage.

TiSA - Foul Play

by Prof. Jane Kelsey (pub by UNI Global Union) This is an up to date overview of TISA and its global attack on public services of all kinds, as well as a strong, concise explanation of what its aims are. Creation of a global corporate superstate that limits the powers of nation states and by extension, all voters, all of humanity, to regulate even the most important sections of their economies. It's a must read on the extremely undemocratic TISA agreement.

Analysis of TISA's Annex on Financial Services

By Jane Kelsey - This is an excellent analysis of the aims of this far reaching and anti-democratic "agreement" that *nobody* would agree with. It is nothing less than a global coup that lowers global standards to a least common denominator, shredding professional standards, accountability and expectations of fairness in financial services, and lowering wages and working conditions. Note: Don't confuse this Annex with GATS' Annex on Financial Services.

European University Association Statement on TTIP and TISA

"In the light of information currently available (published and leaked documents, official briefings, statements by governments and the European Commission) on the ongoing trade agreement negotiations, EUA notes that: 1. Negotiators regularly offer reassurances that public services will be protected. However, the GATS definition of a ‘public’ service is not adequate for purpose where higher education is concerned. HE is not administered by the exercise of government authority in the manner of defence, justice and police; it is not automatically excluded from trade negotiations. Moreover, HE fails to satisfy the GATS criteria which allow exemption for services supplied ‘neither on a commercial basis nor in competition with one or more service suppliers’. Many HE systems include both public and private providers and many public institutions depend on a mix of public and private funding. Such hybridity at system and institutional levels means that trade negotiations such as TTIP and TiSA cannot be conducted with legal certainty and clarity." (this was the very first bullet item on a long list) "The European University Association (EUA) represents over 850 universities in 47 countries, as well as 33 national rectors’ conferences. It is the voice of universities in the European Higher Education Area"

TISA - backdoor services liberalisation on a global level!

The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) currently under negotiation on the side-line of the World Trade Organization (WTO) poses significant deregulatory threats for the majority of services sectors. International trade in services is dealt with by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and its annexes. Each WTO country so far autonomously decides which sectors are to be opened up to cross-border competition. Services sectors liberalisation is carried out once governments gave their explicit agreement to do so (positive lists). TISA intends to reverse this logic and implement a negative listing of liberalisation commitments. Only explicitly targeted sectors in the agreement would not be subject to further liberalisation. This poses significant risks of liberalising all services sectors of the economy unless explicitly exempted from the agreement. TISA would contain “Standstill” and “Ratchet” clauses. Standstill clauses effectively freeze the degrees of regulation in particular sectors and countries are no longer free to implement more strident regulatory provisions. A recently leaked text showed that the financial services industry, through TISA, intends to freeze international financial regulatory efforts by setting a minimum regulatory floor which could not be subsequently superseded by any government wishing so. Ratchet clauses effectively impede government to reverse achieved liberalisation floors. Once a sector is liberalised, there cannot be a turning back. These clauses mean that governments will no longer be able to challenge decisions and choices made by previous governments. The combination of the ratchet and standstill clauses renders the reversal of liberalisation levels impossible. Additionally, TISA could prescribe necessity tests for regulatory measures. Governments would have to prove the necessity of a regulatory instrument before implementing it. For example, in a discussion of universal coverage, a Government would have to prove the necessity of re-regulating already privatised services such as postal services.

The State of Play in GATS Negotiations: Are Developing Countries Benefiting?

I am including articles like this so that we out-of-the-loop Americans can see other points of view. I disagree with the premise that trade agreements trading away rapidly vanishing good jobs forever is somehow good. I don't think it helps the poor in any conceivable way. Highly skilled workers, as they are alleged to be - in order to get their nonimmigrant work visas, should be paid a decent wage, not be working almost for free just for a reference, while body shop firms pocket most of their earnings, paying them in many cases less than US minimum wage (when you divide the number of hours they actually work by their wages). But thats what GATS Mode Four attempts to do, and make it irreversible. The job losses to the indigenous workers are called "efficiency gains". These programs will heavily impact the core middle class professions, turning them into precarious labor. It will be quite literally NAFTA for the rest of the jobs. That's been GATS' goal from the beginning.

Studying the Supra-National in Education: GATS, education and teacher union policies

This article starts by putting the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) into a general context of privatisation. It is noted that the privatisation process is in many cases complex and not only about full-scale privatisation of schools. The growing trade in education must be seen in this context. GATS is not an agreement which deals with educational issues from a political or educational perspective, but from a commercial and trade perspective. The purpose of GATS is to liberalise trade in services, which also includes education. Commitments made in GATS negotiations are difficult to withdraw and the protection of commercial interests which GATS provides is stronger than the protection of human rights, in, for example, the Convention of the Right of the Child. The protection given in GATS to public services, including public education, is ambiguous at best and in many cases open to interpretation by Trade Dispute Panels. It can be assumed that such panels will deal with some educational matters in future. Another risk for the future is that governments will use GATS as an excuse for deregulation and privatisation within the education sector. There is also a risk that education will become part of a general negotiation game where governments may have to open up the education market in their own countries in order to get access to other markets and that education policies will increasingly be decided by trade ministers instead of education ministers.

The TISA Initiative: an overview of market access issues (WTO Staff Working Paper, No. ERSD-2013-11)

"Generally speaking, in a positive-list approach to scheduling commitments, market access and national treatment are granted only in the sectors expressly listed by each party in its schedule; for each sub-sector, the parties then indicate the level of commitment granted for each mode of supply. In contrast, in a negative-list approach, market access and national treatment apply fully to all covered service sectors, except to the extent that non-conforming measures (commonly referred to as “reservations”) providing otherwise have been listed in annexes. In other words, under this approach, everything is in principle liberalized unless specified otherwise in the annexes. In a positive-list approach, nothing is liberalized, unless expressly specified otherwise. Negative-list agreements also typically include a 'ratchet' mechanism, which automatically binds future liberalization for remaining existing non-conforming measures."

Jobs Abroad Support ‘Model’ State in India

By JASON DePARLE TRIVANDRUM, India — "This verdant swath of southern Indian coastline is a famously good place to be poor. People in the state of Kerala live nearly as long as Americans do, on a sliver of the income. They read at nearly the same rates. With leftist governments here in the state capital spending heavily on health and schools, a generation of scholars has celebrated the “Kerala model” as a humane alternative to market-driven development, a vision of social equality in an unequal capitalist world. .. the benevolent path to development, a retort to globalization — makes the travails of its 1.8 million globalizing migrants especially resonant. The debate about Kerala is a debate about future strategies across the impoverished world".

UNCTAD's inputs to the UN's Secretary-General report on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration

(Note: they make arguments in the following text that I think are likely fallacious, basically the claims that the so called multilateral trading system is preferable to its absence as far as services go. ) "Trade and services elements of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration Trade and the trading system address root causes of mobility of people as they contribute to poverty reduction(not really true at all, unless you mean making the rich richer), regional stability and security and thus to the promotion of migration as a choice.(if people want to advance they have traditionally moved, these changes basically change where the money of overseas workers ends up, reducing their pay, inserting new middlemen, funneling it to large firms brokering their temporary labor) Along with cooperative arrangements, they can also provide the tools to better migration governance, (corporate capture of migration might be a better term) promoting the recognition of qualifications and with the potential to support, for example, the portability of earned benefits. This twofold linkage of trade and migration can be enabled by international trade related policies that can enhance the effects on economic growth thus being of relevance to a holistic approach to address the drivers of migration. Services trade through the temporary movement of natural persons, or mode 4 of supplying services- supply of a service by a service supplier of one Member, through presence of natural persons of a Member in the territory of any other Member -, relates even closely to regional and international migration as a sub-set concerning temporary migration. It is particularly important in professional and business services, as well in services related to agriculture, manufacturing and mining. In particular, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) article VI.4 envisages the establishment of disciplines, based on objective and transparent criteria, to ensure that measures relating to qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements do not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in services, including temporary mobility of persons."

Book: Blame It On the WTO: A Human Rights Critique

by Sarah Joseph 365 pages Oxford University Press, Oxford When the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established in 1995, few human rights lawyers at the time realized the significance of this event for their discipline. In part, this may have been because the creation of the WTO followed more than a decade of neoliberal policies characterized by deregulation and the removal of barriers to trade and investment in many regions. Although it strengthened the system originally established under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, the WTO was not seen to represent a seismic shift: it was the final stage of a gradual evolution, rather than the beginning of something radically new... The relative indifference of human rights lawyers also stemmed from a lack of understanding of the consequences of this ambitious overhaul of the global trade system. The WTO was deliberately placed outside the remit of the United Nations. With its establishment, the international trade system included for the first time a dispute settlement mechanism of a quasi-judicial nature, binding upon the WTO Members, and which could allow economic sanctions to be imposed on States that failed to comply with the disciplines imposed on them. Indeed, in retrospect, it is this aspect of the WTO Agreement that appears both the most novel and that has the most far-reaching consequences. Most notably, it created an imbalance between the commitments of States under the WTO framework and their other international obligations, including those under human rights treaties: should conflicts emerge between the two sets of obligations, States may be tempted systematically to prioritize their duties under the WTO, because of the sanctions attached to non-compliance, leaving aside the comparatively ‘softer’ commitments made under human rights treaties. As this important book by Sarah Joseph shows, things are now changing. The problems arising from the fragmentation of international law are increasingly being acknowledged, and solutions are being explored to overcome them. Due to the ‘special nature’ of human rights treaties, which are irreducible to exchanges of undertakings between States, merely to state that these treaties are paramount, will not suffice. We need to work towards practical ways of avoiding conflicts whenever possible, and of solving conflicts when they emerge, in ways that do not lead to the sacrifice of human rights on the altar of increased trade, even for the sake of economic growth.

GATS, Migration, and Labor Standards

(Search domain www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---inst/documents/publication/wcms_193612.pdf Mode 4]," Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, director of trade in services at the World Trade Organization said "Ah, yes - it could be hundreds [of millions] if we liberalize." John Zarocostas, Migration helps export services, Washington Times, January 3, 2005, p. A10.

Migration, Precarization and the Democratic Deficit in Global Governance

Migrants make up a disproportionate part of the social category whose experience in the world of work is marked by “precarity” in terms of informal labour, wage squeeze, temporariness, uncer- tainty and pernicious risk. They belong to the most disadvantaged among a globally growing workforce of casual labour which has come to be called the “precariat”. This, in spite of vast differences in local situations, is currently one of the greatest social and political challenges: to governments, to multilateral organizations, to trade unions and to broader social justice and human rights movements across the world. It is a predicament of the present that takes us well beyond the conventional understanding of North and South, West and East. “Precarity” has currently gained importance in critical labour and citizenship studies in general, and in studies on migration, in particular. Its coining is ascribed to Bourdieu (1963). It epitomizes the nexus of precarious labour and truncated citizenship (e.g. Vosko, 2009; Anderson, 2010; Goldring. 2011).Yet the meaning that precarity conveys in a range of contemporary critical studies is not “social exclusion”, seen as due to redeemable institutional shortcomings, but a “constitutive ele- ment of the new global disorder, to which it is very functional”. (Ricceri, 2011: 68). As such it represents an institutionally embedded hegemonic norm embodying market driven imperatives of “flexibility”, “availability”, “multilocality” and compressed “mobility” across time and space, with “the migrant” as its quintessential incarnation (Tsianos, 2007: 192). But “precarity” – together with its offshoot, the “precariat” – is, equally, adopted as a self-ascribed emblem by contemporary social movements questioning the premises of this very norm. Talking the talk of “precarity” has become regular parlance in political and scientific debates on and through labour and social justice movements concerned with the rights of migrants. There are indications that a global movement is afoot, speaking with or on behalf of millions of migrant “precarians”. This is part of the wider alter-globalization movement, which is developing in tandem with and at the same time contesting neoliberal globalization by emphasizing instead “human rights” and the participatory role of civil society in a democratized global governance of migration (Liki c-Brbori c and Schierup, 2012, [2010]).

Offshoring companies are gaming the system to do an end run around US wage and hour laws, costing workers their jobs.

This is a good article. I thought that the H-1B visa is for grads of US colleges (foreign students) and that the L-1B visas are for foreign firms that bring in their own workers for typically around six years, at much lower wages. The L-1B workers have advanced degrees but are sometimes paid less than almost any other similarly skilled workers in the US. Its an especially exploitative situation for the foreign IT firms' workers. Who, if they are here, frankly should be able to earn what they are worth, and apply for citizenship after a few years. They shouldnt be exploited for cheap labor. But frankly, they are and its driving a huge amount of dishonesty in Washington. I would not be surprised if I found out healthcare was in part being held hostage, to manufacture a fake "crisis" as a means to get ultra cheap labor.

Movement of Natural Persons (Mode-4) Under GATS: Advantage Developing Countries

(There are many sides to this story, here is another one of them! GATS set up what amounts to a competition between everybody in the world for a shrinking pool of jobs in order to lower wages and working conditions for everybody) by Dipankar Dey "The actual potential of Mode-4 could not be exploited for the benefit of developing countries that enjoy comparative advantage in this mode over others. The developed countries have offered almost nothing in the Mode-4 negotiation despite liberalizing labor mobility via other mechanisms. So far, the developing country policy makers have failed to exploit the comparative advantage they claim to enjoy in Mode-4. They should be blamed either for their inability to assess the true potential of this mode of service or for their failure to chalk out an effective strategy during negotiation. The Southern negotiators should prepare themselves with appropriate strategy and tactics to enable them to put pressure on their Northern counterparts, for binding the latter's commitments on liberal market access, better working condition and protection of human rights for the immigrant workers."

When do human rights violate corporate rights? Why, in the GATS of course.

"How Close Will GATS Get to Human Rights? Similarly to the UN considering gross human rights violations a threat to peace, the WTO should consider certain human rights violations an impediment to free trade. Mutually agreed benefits of trade liberalization may be offset when a human rights infringement nullifies and impairs the multilaterally agreed level of tariff concessions or the negotiated volume of market access commitments in services. The liberalization of services trade through mode 4, whereby the service supplier moves abroad to deliver a service, relies on the free movement of natural persons. This mode of service delivery renders the GATS the WTO covered agreement with the closest affinity to the individual as a subject of international law and therefore, to human rights. Restricting the human rights of foreign service suppliers therefore could have the effect of nullifying and impairing the economic value and legal predictability of the GATS commitments. The WTO Agreements lack the legal basis for prosecuting human rights violations. While WTO Members are bound to respect jus cogens human rights, the non-jus cogens human rights originating in customary international law usually do not raise trade issues relevant enough to question the consistency with a provision of the WTO Agreements. It is suggested that the non-violation nullification and impairment complaints may be used to consider the economic damage which occurs when human rights infringements impair upon GATS commitments, specifically in those cases where the WTO Members receiving services condition their mode 4 commitments to the respect for core labour standards. If the human right amounts to jus cogens or emanates from a human rights treaty to which both parties to a WTO dispute are Members, the human right itself forms the ground of a WTO violation complaint. In all other cases, it is not the human rights violation itself, but its effect that is the economic damage on the sending country's economy, which nullifies and impairs a trade benefit." Keywords: Human Rights, Labour Mobility, GATS, Annex on Movement of Natural Persons Supplying Services under the Agreement, International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, Schedule of Specific Commitments, non-violation nullification and impairment

USCIS Appeals Panel Rules on L-1B Employment

Story about "Matter of I- Corp., Adopted Decision 2017-02 (AAO Apr. 12, 2017)" a USCIS adjudicative decision where a company's decision to pay a Malaysian engineer less than US minimum wage resulted in a rejection of the non-immigrant work visa they were applying for. It was determined that companies applying for non-immigrant work visas, must plan to pay _at least a 'legal' US wage, ideally a wage that reflected the special skills posessed by the proposed visa recipient. This is a reasonable requirement so that engineers working for minimum wage don't depress the job prospects of engineers generally.

TISA Troubles

This study, co-published with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, examines the adverse impacts on public services and public interest regulation of the little-known Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), quietly being negotiated in Geneva by a group of 23 governments, including Canada. Senior CCPA trade researcher Scott Sinclair argues that under the guise of expanding international trade in services, TiSA will make it much harder for governments to regulate vital services such as energy, water, banking, transport and online services. The agreement is also designed to pry open public services to commercial involvement. While this agenda may suit the commercial interests of the transnational corporations behind the secretive TiSA negotiations, it will not serve the broader public interest.

Lori Wallach discusses 'standstill' in this short video on Democracy Now

Note: THIS ALSO APPLIES TO TODAY'S US HEALTH INSURANCE, because it is a financial service, and Please also read the glossary entry for "negative list" because the two are functionallly the same, a freeze on any new regulation. So blocking any new public services and locking in any and all privatization, etc, of existing ones. TISA will do that and its standstill dates will go back to tthe 1990s, so its ceiling will likely leave new regulations like the ACA, out. The status quo for health insurance in 1998 was very bad.

Ellen Gould discusses GATS on Talking Stick TV.

Video - Ellen Gould is a trade expert whose insight here is quite accurate. See what she tells us here about domestic regulations, technical standrds, licensing, medical standards, everything. Lots of info on what they want to do with healthcare. The WTO could sanction us if we wanted our doctors to meet higher standards than those in the developing countries. (around 25:00) The WTO also wants us to allow for profit offshoring of poor patients. Which would be subject to the same problems as the for profit system does now, except likely worse, with less accountability.

How ‘free trade’ & investment treaties attack public services & why we have to fight them

by Prof. Jane Kelsey 1980s neoliberal greed took over the world • Structural adjustment – SAPs - at home • Global rules to push it further and faster, then lock it in New version of colonisation affected all countries, North and SouthTNCs targetted services as new source of mega-profits For public sector workers this means ongoing ... Job losses Insecure employment Deunionisation and labour market ‘flexibility’ Loss of protections & entitlements Added costs, but lower incomes Migration for remittances

TISA - The Really Good Friends of Transnational Corporations Agreement by Ellen Gould

Highly secretive talks began in 2012 to establish a new trade agreement, which adds to and builds upon the existing General Agreement on Trade in Services, GATS. The new agreement is plurilateral and is currently named the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). The group of countries 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. Because TISA is basically a global war against what were once known as public services. See the material on "governmental authority exclusion" to see how that definition has been changed by FTAS.

Maine CTPC Health Care Subcommittee Draft Report on GATS barriers to state health care reforms

US states thought they could just implement a statewide single payer system, many seem to still think that. But they were wrong. This report to the state of Maine shows what they found out! This report was prepared for the state of Maine by trade experts from Georgetown University. It shows some of the hidden traps faced by states that attempt to make it possible for the working poor to afford health care. The Health Care Subcommittee of the Maine Citizens Trade Policy Commission asked the Forum on Democracy & Trade to look at Maine’s health insurance programs in relation to U.S. commitments under international trade agreements, and specifically to identify potential conflicts or issues regarding Maine’s Dirigo Health Program with provisions of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Here we focus specifically on Dirigo and GATS in order to enable the Maine CTPC to: Understand potential trade conflicts serious enough to bring to the attention of U.S. trade negotiators and the Congress Raise questions about the meaning of vague GATS provisions on coverage and trade rules that could improve the quality of state-federal consultation on trade policy Identify potential safeguards for Dirigo and similar state-level health programs.

Public Citizen: Comments on International Services Agreement ("TISA")

TISA is the US and Australia's proposed "mext generation" trade agreement to promote global outsourcing and offshoring of services. Its "everything in by default" approach makes it much more likely to be dangerous and its effects unpredictable. It would block Medicare for All and limit public services to only those which met very narrow exceptions or were essential to national security. It would create a lot of dishonesty in government because what politician would honestly say that a trade agreement tied their hands from delivering positive change, only allowing corporations to take more and more?

How Should the EU and Other WTO Members React to Their WTO Governance and WTO Appellate Body Crises?

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, Abstract Since 2017, the United States (US) and other World Trade Organization (WTO) members violate their legal duties and democratic mandates given by national parliaments to maintain the WTO Appellate Body (AB) as legally prescribed in Article 17 of the WTO Dispute Understanding (DSU), i.e. as being ‘composed of seven persons’, with vacancies being ‘filled as they arise’. This contribution argues that none of the reasons offered by the US for its blocking of the (re)appointment of AB candidates - on grounds unrelated to the personal qualifications of the candidates - can legally justify its disruptions of the WTO legal and dispute settlement system. Also the European Union (EU) has offered no convincing justification of its failure to protect ‘strict observance of international law’ in it external relations, as required by Article 3 of the Lisbon Treaty on European Union (TEU) and by Article IX:1 WTO Agreement (‘where a decision cannot be arrived at by consensus, the matter at issue shall be decided by voting’). The 2018 ‘Concept Paper’ prepared by the EU Commission on ‘WTO modernization’ indicates no strategy for the obvious problem that the EU objective of ‘preserving and deepening the rules-based multilateral system’, including ‘more effective and transparent dispute settlement including the Appellate Body’, is inconsistent with the US strategies underlying US blocking of the AB jurisdiction by preventing the appointment of AB judges, a strategy which was previously applied by the US for blocking third-party adjudication under Chapter 20 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trade diplomats have no democratic mandate for disrupting the AB jurisdiction by illegally reducing the number of AB members to one single judge by December 2019 and, thereby, undermining the WTO legal and dispute settlement system. EU trade diplomats must exercise leadership for using the existing legal powers and duties of the WTO Ministerial Conference and General Council under Article IX:1 WTO – if necessary, based on ‘a majority of the votes cast’ - to initiate and complete the WTO selection procedures for filling AB vacancies and protect the AB as legally defined in Article 17 DSU. Article IX.2 could be used for authoritative interpretations ‘taken by a three-fourths majority of the Members’ confirming the collective duties of WTO members to fill AB vacancies in case of illegal blocking of AB nominations. WTO law foresees similar majority decisions for the appointment of the WTO Director-General; such majority decisions are necessary for preventing illegal de facto amendments of the WTO legal system, and do not set a precedent for future WTO majority voting on discretionary, political issues, which most WTO diplomats reject as a ‘nuclear option’. As suggested by European ordo-liberalism, citizens and democratic institutions must hold trade politicians democratically and legally more accountable for complying with their legislative mandates to implement and modernize, but not to destroy WTO law and dispute settlement. Keywords: Appellate Body; competition rules; governance crisis; ordo-liberalism; WTO

(Forbes) Court Case Against Trump "Immigration" (non-immigrant) Visa Ban Moves Forward

According to Forbes, even in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, there is no reason not to outsource, and continue to outsourcing an ever growing, potentially unlimited number of good US jobs. (See also several articles on India's WTO suit DS503 in Inside US Trade, from March 2016, and others.) This is just nuts. Money isn't everything.

"If H-1B visa reform goes ahead, here are the GATS violations US would be committing" - Firstpost - India (2017)

"Few know that India has already filed an objection (referred to as ‘request for consultation’ which is the first step for trade dispute settlement) with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in March last year on the current H-1B visa rules. If Trump has his way upending work-visa programs than the present Indian concerns may just look finicky. India requested for consultations with the US, regarding certain American measures for imposing increased fees (objections to “pay higher filing fees and fraud prevention and detection fees under certain specified circumstances”) on certain applicants for L-1 (a non-immigrant visa which allows companies to relocate foreign qualified employees to its US subsidiary or parent company) and H-1B (a non-immigrant visa that allows American employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in speciality occupations), and concerns relating to a numerical commitment for H-1B visas. India has said that these measures are in violation of several articles of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) — the set of multilateral rules that govern international trade in services. New Delhi requested for consultations with Washington that were held last year. India has not yet requested the WTO for establishing a Dispute Settlement Board (DSB). Specifically, India has said that some Washington measures on these categories of visa holders violate clauses related to Most-Favoured-Nation (MFN) treatment, rules on transparency, clauses on domestic regulation, measures to increase the participation of developing countries in world trade and commitments to market access and national treatment. Consider some of these stipulations under GATS. The national treatment clause says that a government shall accord services and service suppliers of other countries “in respect of all measures affecting the supply of services, treatment no less favourable than that it accords to its own like services and service suppliers”. The MFN treatment clause requires that governments should accord “immediately and unconditionally” treatment “no less favourable” to a country what it accords to other countries for like services and service suppliers. In sectors where a country has undertaken market commitments, the measures that a country cannot “adopt or maintain” in its sub-regions or its territory extend to limitations on the number of service suppliers whether in the form of numerical quotas, monopolies, exclusive service suppliers or the requirements of an economic needs test, limitations on the total number of service operations or on the total quantity of service output expressed in numerical units in quotas, among other such stipulations. The clause on movement of Natural Persons Supplying Services in the GATS Annex says that though GATS does not prevent a country from applying measures to regulate the entry of natural persons into, or their temporary stay in its territory, “provided that such measures are not applied in such a manner as to nullify or impair the benefits accruing to any Member under the terms of a specific commitment”. All of these possible violations would be important to cite if India chooses to request WTO to set up a DSB. After the panel judgment, either of the countries can appeal against the judgment. If the highest international trade court even then rules in favour of India then US would be bound to comply. However, it is unclear how much the Trump administration would feel bound by its WTO commitments, including dispute judges’ verdicts against it. The growing rhetoric of “unfair” trade agreements used in the current US political discourse might even see Washington pulling out of the WTO. India and most other WTO members are in for rough weather in the present climate as far as trade negotiations with the US are concerned. In a hypothetical situation of India winning a case against the US regulations on work visas at the highest trade court and US ignoring the verdict against it, India can seek WTO’s authorisation to retaliate (to “suspend concessions or other obligations”) against the US — normally such an authorisation is not refused, trade experts opine. India could then consider imposing punitive tariffs on US imports. Another option for retaliation, experts say, could be the refusal to recognise some of the intellectual property (IP) rights of US right holders. But this option of retaliation could involve a much more complicated procedure. An across-the-board or discriminatory higher tariffs, on the face of it, would also be violative of international trade rules, particularly the MFN clause, though much depends on the nitty-gritties of the American legal changes in trade policy. Even Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ would not be so easy to implement if US does choose to abide by its international trade commitments. There could be two scenarios: one, when the US government procures only from domestic sources, and linked with that the government mandates that even a private entity must source from within the US. In both these possible realities, there is no talk of subsidies yet (which could violate other WTO rules). “In the first situation, the US has some flexibility — it is government procurement to mandate procurement from domestic sources provided this is for non-commercial use and for government’s own use. Then the US would be within its rights to mandate such a local procurement for government purposes. But if the US government mandatorily requires even the private sector to source domestically then that would be violative of WTO rules,” Abhijit Das, Head of the Centre for WTO Studies at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade says. “Then the second situation where US government gives incentives to procure domestically, such an incentive would be violative of WTO subsidies agreement. This is commonly called the local content subsidy, which is prohibited,” he adds." Updated Date: February 06, 2017 08:39:31 IST

Social Exclusion, Education and Precarity: neoliberalism, neoconservatism and class war from above

In this article we analyze neoliberalism and neoconservatism, their intentions and characteristics, and the relationship between them. We locate these ideologies and associated policies and discourses as part of the `class war from above' (Harvey, 2005). We critically interrogate the impact of their policies and discourses on the social production and hierarchicalisation of labour power, firstly, with respect to education, and, secondly, to employment. Keywords: precarity, jobs, education, class, neoliberalism, neoconservatism, discourse, policy Capitalism and Class War from Above Commentators from across the political spectrum are in general agreement that in a vigorous `class war from above’ (Harvey, 2005; Hill, 2012a, 2013a; Malott, Hill and Banfield, 2013) since the economic crisis of the mid-1970s, (‘the oil crisis’), and, more spectacularly, since ‘the bankers' crisis' of 2008, the capitalist class has been remarkably successful in wresting back from the working class a

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?

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.

Jane Kelsey on E - commerce - The development implications of 'future proofing' global trade rules for GAFA

The World Trade Or ganization (WTO) General Council established a Work Programme on Electronic Commerce in September 1998 t o examine all trade - related issues arising from electronic commerce , taking into account the economic, financial, and development needs of developing countries. 1 Consistent with Article III.2 of the Marrakesh Agreement, 2 electronic commerce was defined in terms of its trade characteristics, with discussions to be conducted through the bodies responsible for the relevant WTO instruments 3 and supplemented by ad hocdedicated discussions at the General Council. The work programme identified many critical issues, especially on trade in services, but languished in recent years. In 2016, the issue of electronic commerce was brought to life with gusto as the US, Japan and the European Union initiated moves that were clearly designed to secure a mandate for formal negotiations at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Their proposals go far beyond traditional notions of trade and would see the WTO adopt binding and enforceable rules that restrict how governments can regulate the digital domain. This paper first examines the drivers behind the push for electronic commerce to become the major ‘new issue’ adopted in a post - Doha round WTO. It th en assesses the development implications of the new e - commerce agenda for the WTO acquis, with particular reference to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Four interrelated factors underpin this new focus on electronic commerce. The first is the pre - eminence of the mega - corporations from Silicon Valley, symbolised by the acronym GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple), who by 2010 had displaced the old industrial giants as the world’s largest corporations. With their rise in corporate power came greatly enhanced political influence in the US Congress and in the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) . The industry’s wish-list of global rules became the US agenda in the relevant negotiating forums. The second factor is the growing threat posed by China to the dominance that both GAFA and the US had established over the digital economy, as China refocuses its domestic economy on services and technology and expands internationally through the One Belt One Road initiative and its digital component led by Alibaba. Other countries in the global South are also exploring strategies to close the digital divide and catch- up through digital industrialisation. That strategy commonly includes technology transfer, support for domestic start-ups and attracting joint venture investments, while balancing their social, employment and economic development objectives.

"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.

US—India Visa Fee Controversy before the WTO: A Migration-Mobility Nexus for the WTO?

This is more about the outrageous DS-503 WTO dispute case that would allow unlimited guest workers to be imported into the US and other countries by foreign corporations, allowing them to do an end run around wage and labor laws and possibly ending the middle class most of us grew up with, and decent work for decent wages forever, possibly as soon as next year.

"Next Generation" Trade and Investment Agreements: Upcoming Challenges for Public Services

This is an excellent recent presentation by a EU public services group about the attacks on public services in the EU by the trade agreements of countries like the US ('next generation' trade deals refers to US style negative list agreements which are particularly aggressive in privatizing and capturing public services, permanently (example, the US capture of healthcare around the globe by transnational corporations) ending public ownership and voter control over irreplaceable services and resources.. It shows the strategies which this global scheme, uses. Very much worth reading.

Human Trafficking and Slavery: Towards a New Framework for Prevention and Responsibility

By Dana S. Hathaway "Human trafficking and slavery are horrific crimes that require strict penalties for perpetrators and effective protections for survivors, but these crimes are in part facilitated by a system of laws and norms that effectively marginalize certain populations—the “unskilled” migrant. In this thesis I aim to reexamine and reinterpret the problem of human trafficking and slavery in a way that highlights the background conditions to the problem. - - - I argue that the framework used as a conceptual foundation for addressing the problem limits the scope of responsibility. Specifically, the framework fails to acknowledge structural contributing factors I show to be relevant: law, policy, and norms impacting immigration and migrant labor. I assert that the limited scope of responsibility, which focuses heavily on direct perpetrators of the crime, leaves largely unexamined the role of social-structural processes in contributing to the problem. I use the United States as a case study in order to provide a targeted analysis of social-structural processes that contribute to the problem. In this examination of the United States, I focus on agricultural and domestic slavery."

"No more vampire treaties" The Global South has much to lose with so called Free Trade Agreements – Interview with Sanya Reid Smith

By Gerhard Dilger Ms. Smith, what chances and what risks are there for the countries of the Global South when negotiating so-called new generation free trade agreements (FTAs), or vampire treaties? Let´s take the Mercosur-EU negotiations as an example. ------------------------ sanya: Latin America is facing many FTA negotiations at the moment and they’re all being negotiated in secret, so they can be called vampire treaties – we don’t know what’s in them unless the text is leaked...

"How diverse and how creative" (are regional trade agreements) as compared to the GATS (WTO)

The intended audience is trade negotiators This document is useful to show the nitty gritty of why some entities want them, and how RTAs sometimes modify the terms of the GATS between specific countries. These deals IMHO are not creative, BTW. Staff Working Paper ERSD-2012-19 Date: 31 October 2012 World Trade Organization Economic Research and Statistics Division SERVICES RULES IN REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS HOW DIVERSE AND HOW CREATIVE AS COMPARED TO THE GATS MULTILATERAL RULES? by Pierre Latrille and Juneyoung Lee WTO Manuscript date: October 2012

Related content