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"On TTIP and the NHS, they are trying to bamboozle us"

The TTIP trade treaty talks re-open in Brussels this week. We should not be reassured by the convenient 'leak' of a private letter between key TTIP advocates claiming the treaty poses no threat to the NHS. (This is part of a series (keyword: 'neoliberal deception') to show typical neoliberal tactics that are being used successfully to strip countries of democracy and public services as part of its global privatization agenda. Mistake #1 assuming they play by rules of any kind.)

Urgent-Biden and Trump's Medicare and Social-Security traps for the unwary -proof below

NOTE: WORK IN PROGRESS, please forgive the state of this document, its still being edited and has redundant information! BUT its important, and verifiable fact. URGENT: Both US Presidential candidates have plans to make changes to our current Medicare and Social Security systems that WILL DESTROY THEM . Also commitments we made in the 1990s have put many tens of millions of our best and future jobs in jeopardy. And most deregulatory changes by either party lock in and cant be repealed. Many changes lock in. A little known trade agreement "GATS" literally dooms them unless we leave it immediately.

Interpreting the General Agreement on Trade in Services and the WTO Instruments Relevant to the International Trade of Financial Services: The Lawyer's Perspective

25 N.C. J. Int'l L. & Com. Reg.1 (1999). by J. S. Jarreau, This is a very good essay on the GATS financial services provisions, especially their history and where they sit in the general GATS and WTO millieu. These additions to the GATS are of extreme relevance to anybody hoping to bring about any of the changes which US progressives want, which unfortunately have been locked down by the GATS, without the nation's ever having been informed. So if you are interested in those areas, "single pauer" (a tierless, national universal healthcare system, which is really the only way to gain sustainable universal healthcare within the GATS, - This requires we withdraw/modify relevant commitments via Article XXI) Also, banking, expansion of student loans, and loan forgiveness, free college, etc. Many things conflict with the new constraints GATS created.

Liberalisation of Financial Services - by Stephen Woolcock

"Negotiations on a permanent agreement on financial services in the GATS are scheduled to be completed by mid December 1997. The prospects of success this year are better than in previous attempts in 1993 and 1995, but there is still much to do in a short time and still much work to be done. The current negotiations are shaped by compromises made during the Uruguay Round negotiations in order to get both developing country and US support for the approach adopted in the GATS. These compromises mean that there is no internal, liberalising dynamic in the negotiations. For the negotiations to succeed it is therefore necessary for all the key participants, which in the case of financial services effectively means some 30 WTO Members, to show the political will needed. "

services of general economic interest

Services which do not qualify for any governmental authority exclusion, i.e. commercial services with a shrinking public component (the public component must shrink, and transition to market based entirely.) Note, this only applies in services with government involvement at the federal, state or local level or when the government has control or where tax money is used see definition of "all measures of general application".

Fake "Public Option" scheme trotted out every four years to hide the GATS lock-in for another four years.

What they call in Europe "services of general economic interest". Why can't it work here? Because the EU services were pre-existing to GATS, so are grandfathered in. If they made any changes, like Brexit, they would break too. Just ike the UK's have been gradually being privatized. And like us, they are not allowed to create any new ones unless they modify their GATS commitments, and if they had committed healthcare they likely have to pay a high price for doing so.

governmental authority exclusion

These are articles on the all important exclusion that defines what member government activities can be called "public services" and be excluded from the onerous GATS rules.

Like with healthcare, Brexit's influence on higher education and public colleges and universities in the UK is quite uncertain at best, because of an intentionally ambiguous WTO definition of what can be considered "public".

See the "governmental authority exclusion", "GATS Article I:3" and "Annex on Financial Services" keywords for more on this huge gotcha which also blocks proposals for free college and Medicare for All in the US (and threatens to dismantle the US's Medicare and Social Security unless they remain restricted to the retired only). How will these changes impact social mobility in the UK?

Mind the GATS! (Robert Newman, The Guardian, 2000)

"Leaked WTO documents show them currently working out a list of what will be acceptable as a "legitimate" government objective for any regulation of services under GATS. That of "safeguarding the public interest" has already been rejected. If GATS goes ahead, warns economist Susan George, "then Europe can kiss goodbye its public health services". But even though that's just the start of the disaster, there has been no parliamentary debate or news coverage about GATS. (It's way too important for that.) The British government's official line is that there's nothing to worry about anyway. The DTI claims GATS won't apply to the NHS or education here because "non-commercial services" are exempt from the fiat . But GATS says that if you've got just one tiny part of a public service that's even an iddy-biddy-bit commercial then THE WHOLE THING IS UP FOR GRABS."

GATS and Government Services

"There are two major issues raised in the literature about GATS and its application to publicly funded service providers such as libraries. The first issue is the exemption of some services from all parts of the GATS agreement and the second issue pertains to the GATS articles that apply to services that are not exempt. To begin with, not all services are or will be negotiated for inclusion to the GATS. An exception was made for services which fall into the general exemption of "government authority". These services are not required to be liberalized to trade in any way nor is any part of the air transport and traffic sectors (WTO, GATS 2). The exception of "services provided to the public in the exercise of governmental authority" is contentious because its meaning has not been clearly defined in GATS. In Article I(3) of the agreement there are two tests applied to the definition of a government provided service: first, it must not be offered on a commercial basis and second, it must not be provided in competition with other service providers (Shrybman, iv). If a service offered by the government fails these tests, then the government must withdraw from providing the service or fund all other providers equally. The WTO states that this position is straightforward and covers "social security schemes and any other public service, such as health or education, that is provided at non-market conditions" (WTO, The General). However, as Hunt points out, these two tests actually make it difficult to determine what would qualify as a government service under GATS when those clauses are closely considered (32). Services such as health care and education have private for-profit suppliers, which 'in competition' with publicly funded and supplied services. Despite the assurances of the WTO, it would seem that these clauses would effectively exclude those services from the list of services offered in exercise of government authority."

The Effects of International Trade Agreements on Canadian Health Measures: Options for Canada with a View to the Upcoming Trade Negotiations (2002)

Richard Ouellet, Laval University (October 2002) -- "It will be noted that while Canada has avoided the potential effects that the international economic agreements could have on health care, it has done so by taking advantage of the structure of agreements based on quite different approaches. • If the Canadian government wishes to continue exempting our public health systems from the effects of these agreements, it will have to acknowledge that doing so by simultaneously using approaches as different as those of the GATS and the NAFTA is not without risks. What is needed is an integrated approach that reflects trade concerns while respecting the health care priorities of governments."

WTO Secretariat. Health and social services: background note by the Secretariat S/C/W/50, 18 September, 1998 (98-3558)

“The hospital sector in many counties . . . is made up of government-owned and privately-owned entities which BOTH operate on a commercial basis, charging the patient or his insurance for the treatment provided. Supplementary subsidies may be granted for social, regional, and similar policy purposes. It seems unrealistic in such cases to argue for continued application of Article I:3, and/or maintain that no competitive relationship exists between the two groups of suppliers of services.” In other words healthcare "public options" like the UK's NHS must be subject to WTO globalization rules such as GATS' rules on services liberalization and competition.

The UK's health is threatened by the push to privatize it's National Health Service. Here is what must be done to preserve it.

The reason why the UK's NHS is vulnerable is the fact that they signed onto the WTO GATS agreement, and also SELL commercial health insurance in the UK, which opens up a Pandora's box of problems. These commitments will end when the UK leaves the EU. That change will trigger demands for compensation for any perceived loss in "future expected earnings". Additionally, re-joining the WTO may trigger similar demands from other WTO Members. This should be obvious to anybody who is familiar with the GATS and WTO negotiations. So its quite strange that there has been nothing about it in the media.

International Approach to Liberalisation of Trade in Financial Services - doctoral thesis on Financial Services Regulation

This is a high quality, law book by Professor Bart De Meester. whose writing style is very readable on trade deals regulation of financial services- especially banking, very relevant to the mess we find ourselves in today.. Especially see: INTERNATIONAL APPROACH TO LIBERALISATION OF TRADE IN BANKING SERVICES see CHAPTER III.2 LIMITATIONS ON THE RIGHT OF WTO MEMBERS TO REGULATE THE BANKING SECTOR

No Watertight Compartments: Trade Agreements, International Health Care Reform, and the Legal Politics of Public Sector Exemptions

Debates over the legal interpretation of trade treaty (WTO and NAFTA) exemption clauses for public services display a common pattern. Critics of trade agreements argue that these clauses are likely to be narrowly interpreted, providing scant protection from international trade rules to public health care. Defenders usually argue that they will be given a reasonably expansive definition and that trade obligations (at least the more onerous WTO national treatment obligations) will generally not apply to public health care services. This paper argues that although the optimism of trade agreement defenders may be well-founded when viewed from a static perspective, the protection afforded by exemption clauses shrinks with the expansion of market elements in health care. Hence, the major implication of such “carve-outs” for health policy makers will not be the liberty to engage in “business as usual”, but rather the need to assess the trade-related risks associated with market-based reform in the future. This paper analyses the WTO and NAFTA provisions limiting the application of these trade agreements to the health care sector in terms of the various risk scenarios posed by different models of health care reform.

Public services and the GATS, WTO Staff Working Paper, No. ERSD-2005-03, World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva

Adlung, Rolf (2005) Adlung is a WTO employee. The EU's social safety net is under attack. Partly due to neoliberal construction via FTAs of a new corporate "right of establishment" that nullifies rights to healthcare and education that have never been created in laws as we would hope. Also WTO rules allegedly against "discrimination" ironically are a tool that's being used to dismantle policies and laws against discrimination in countries like the US.

The Brave New (and Smaller) World of Higher Education

A Transatlantic View European University Association EUA American Council on Education Center for Institutional and International Initiatives - arket forces, globalization, internationalization, com- petition, new providers, cost efficiency—these descriptors of the brave new world of higher education appear consistently in any discus- sion of its future. Even when used in the same national context, such terms describe different phenomena and elicit different interpretations; cross-cultural conversa- tions are even more difficult. A shared understanding of the forces that are reshaping higher education within and among nations provides an essential founda- tion for the development of sound policy and effective institutional strategies to adapt to these new realities. Such challenges were the focus of the seventh Transatlantic Dialogue, cosponsored by the American Council on Education (ACE), the Asso- ciation of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), and the European University Association (EUA) and hosted by the Université Laval in Quebec.

When Worlds Collide: Implications of International Trade and Investment Agreements for Non-Profit Social Services

Although Canada has vowed that its domestic social policies will not be compromised by its international trade obligations, it has also been a leading exponent of increasing trade liberalization in the services sector. Unless great caution is taken in the current WTO and FTAA negotiations, this ambivalence could expose many of our social programs to trade-driven privatization and commercialization. Authors Andrew Jackson and Matt Sanger describe in detail the policy implications of these trade treaty talks. They demonstrate the need to strengthen and improve the protections now afforded our social services, many of which--from child care to elder care--are delivered by not-for-profit social service agencies funded by governments, rather than directly by governments. When these services are exposed to trade and investment treaties, the few limited protections provided to direct public sector programs may not apply. Only clear and forceful treaty terms can minimize the risk of trade challenges that could disrupt and undermine these important services The worlds of trade policy and social policy are very different. When they collide, as they inevitably will in the negotiations to expand the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), it will take great diligence on the part of Canada’s negotiators to ensure that our not-for-profit social programs and services survive the collision.

The real cause of Bernie Sanders' problems with the DNC (and America's healthcare mess!)

Basically, 2/3 of Bernie's much-needed platform, as well as the self-stated agendas of (all?) other politicians, to a large extent are potentially blocked by trade agreements that (the leaderships of both) US parties have been cooperating in hiding! They represent a huge betrayal of the American people by both parties. And the reasons for this are complicated and urgently need the nation's attention, or else the policy trap could become so costly to reverse it could become permanent, at a cost of as much as 41% or more of the nations jobs according to a Harvard study. (the agreements also potentially trade away service jobs, basically the 80% of the economy that isn't manufacturing.)

The GATS’ Article I, paragraph 3.... (and libraries)

What is Article 1:3? Article 1, Paragraph 3 of the GATS defines the scope of the agreement as follows: (b) “services” includes any service in any sector except services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority; (c) “a service supplied in the exercise of governmental authority” means any service which is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers. What it really means...Clause (c) above constitutes the potential danger to libraries and the public sector. It appears to mean that “if a service is provided on a non-commercial basis but in competition with other suppliers or on a commercial basis but without competition, it is not a service supplied in exercise of governmental authority.” (1) (and so has to be privatized - it canot be allowed to exist as is, under GATS rules)

GATS Annex on Financial Services

This document potentially endangers the US's Social Security, Medicare and other safety net programs if they are partially privatized and compete with commercial entities. It is part of the GATS and its explained well by Patricia Arnold in her essay on GATS and Financial Regulation (Public Citizen). It contains a slightly different definition of 'services supplied as an exercise of governmental authority' than GATS Article 1:3 does, which applies in certain situations. To understand it you should also read Nicholas Skala's 2009 paper in the International Journal of Health Services and the Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services. You can also find a bit more material online if you search on the phrase "Fu Lung" or "Fu Lung Group" in the context of financial services+WTO or the Uruguay Round. It seems an effort is made to make information on FTAS difficult to find for outsiders.

Public Services and the GATS - International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Rashad Cassim & Ian Steuart, School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg - (3rd Draft) "The strength of a society depends unequivocally upon a foundation that ensures the provision of a range of quality public services to all who need them, regardless of their ability to pay for them. It is perhaps perplexing then that the provision of public services, even those thought of as essential or basic services, is increasingly in the hands of private companies, leading inexorably to their commercialisation, threatening their reach to those that need them most, and potentially eroding the sustainability of their provision from both a social and environmental perspective. This subchapter aims to achieve the following: to provide an overview of the role and relevance of public services, and to examine the link between the provision of public services and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); the primary vehicle of the liberalisation of services within a multilateral, rules-based system of international trade and therefore an area of specific concern. Consequently, with respect to the first aim, this subchapter will examine the evolution of “public services” and why it remains important to retain an element of government intervention in their provision. With respect to the second, the chapter will focus on the scope of the GATS and the tensions inherent in the interpretation of Article 1:3 of the GATS, which deals with the “public services” carve-out from the agreement. This subchapter is divided into 5 sections. After this Introduction, Section 2 will examine what is meant by “public services”, including the usefulness of the more restrictive conception of “essential” or “basic” services. Section 3 focuses on the role of public services in addressing sustainable development concerns, particularly the relationship between public services and their privatisation. Section 4 is devoted to the relationship between public services and the GATS. Much has been written on public services and the liberalisation of trade and this section aims at synthesis of arguments on both sides of the divide, which have become increasingly more vocal and passionate as the services negotiations in the WTO proceed as part of the Doha Development Round. Section 5 concludes."

How the World Trade Organisation is shaping domestic policies in health care

(The Lancet) "The previous round of WTO ministerial talks (the Uruguayan round) allowed governments to protect health and social services from GATS treatment by defining them as government services. According to GATS Article 1.3, a government service is one “which is supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers”. Article 19 of GATS is, however, intended to end this protection. “Members shall enter into successive rounds of negotiations . . . with a view to achieving a progressively higher level of liberalisation.” The WTO secretariat has argued that for services to be classified under Article 1.3 they should be provided free. Many governments initially protected health services from GATS treatment by defining them in this way. But the WTO has highlighted the inconsistencies in this approach. 12 “The hospital sector in many counties . . . is made up of government-owned and privately-owned entities which both operate on a commercial basis, charging the patient or his insurance for the treatment provided. Supplementary subsidies may be granted for social, regional, and similar policy purposes. It seems unrealistic in such cases to argue for continued application of Article I:3, and/or maintain that no competitive relationship exists between the two groups of suppliers of services.” In addition, Article 13 of GATS calls for the end of subsidies that distort trade and requires members to negotiate procedures to combat them. Therefore, according to the WTO, wherever there is a mixture of public and private funding, such as user charge or private insurance, or there are subsidies for non-public infrastructure, such as public-private partnerships or competitive contracting for services, the service sector should be open to foreign corporations. Health-care systems across Europe are vulnerable on all these counts."

The Scope of GATS and of Its Obligations by Bregt Natens, Jan Wouters

Bregt Natens, Jan Wouters - KU Leuven - Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies Date Written: August 1, 2013 Abstract The GATS preamble already highlights the inevitable conflict between on the one hand achieving progressively higher levels of liberalization of trade in services in order to expand trade in services and promote growth, and on the other hand the right to introduce new regulation to meet national policy objectives. Hence, it was clear from the outset that the balance between trade liberalisation and domestic regulatory autonomy would be key in interpreting the constructively ambiguous GATS. The outcome of this exercise depends on three factors: the interpretation of (i) GATS’ overarching objectives, (ii) of the general scope of GATS and of the obligations arising from it (and the exceptions to them) and (iii) of the inherent individual flexibility of GATS. Whilst also touching on the first, this contribution mainly focuses on the second factor by addressing the scope of GATS, of its unconditional obligations, of obligations applying to sectors for which specific commitments have been scheduled and of obligations in GATS Annexes. Additionally, it provides an overview of the structure of GATS obligations. The third factor is mainly addressed throughout textboxes which provide an illustrative insight into how the European Union has used the inherent GATS flexibility to shape its obligations. Keywords: WTO, World Trade Organization, GATS, General Agreement on Trade in Services, services, scope, obligations, governmental authority exception

Interpretation of Article I, Section 3 (b) and (c) of GATS - PublicServicesScope

This article by Markus Krajewski discusses GATS' important "governmental authority exception" which defines the scope of GATS jurisdiction. (and what can be seen as a "public service" under GATS, the definition is very narrow- everything else is subject to all sorts of rules which privatize them and bar government subsidization except if its 'minimally trade restrictive') - by Markus Krajewski

GATS and Public Service Systems

This is a must-read article as its by far the most concise and understandable explanation of the "governmental authority exception" an all important "two-pronged test" or definition, that defines the scope of what is allowed to be a public service and what is not, in the GATS agreement. In other words, what is subject to privatization rules, and what isn't. This definition is also borrowed or imported, in the computer programming sense, "as is" into hundreds of other trade agreements all around the globe. So this essay is extremely useful in understanding which healthcare or higher education proposals could work (and which ones would be subjected to a death of a thousand cuts, and couldn't) for example. The essay was originally written and published by the government of British Columbia province in Canada.

Putting Health First - Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Canadian Health Care Reform, Trade Treaties and Foreign Policy - this essay describes the traps in the GATS agreement for Canadian health care, and it also would totally apply to a hypothetical US healthcare plan if it had prexisted the creation of the WTO. it also discusses 'carve outs' and why they are needed by Canada to protect their Medicare (public health care) from Trade Agreements put forward by countries like the US that try to destroy, and privatize them. Note: the situation of the Canadian system is different than the UK's as Canadian Healthcare is exempt from GATS, and the UK's public option the NHS like US's optional short term public experiments like the ACA are subject to the GATS privatization agreements progressive liberalization ratchet, etc. requirements. Unfortunately.