Medicare and Social Security Stealth Capture

A trade deal from the 1990s that almost nobody has heard of, (GATS) and its progeny, (TISA) thats even more aggressive threatens ALL of what most of us think of as public services all around the world, particularly those thought of, especially in the United States as financial services. Are we leading a global push to steal and privatize them, based on an extreme cult like ideology that's been hidden from all of us?

Is GATS a TRAP thats very easy to prove is an imminent danger to Medicare and Social Security, as well as other services?

GATS is a Trade Deal on services almost nobody in the US seems to have heard of.

TISA is its progeny.

If so, and I think it likely is, we need to get out of this trap. Both Parties are implicated, and presently there are no "Good guys" unfortunately.

They are doing their best to divide and conquer the country and planet. We all need to get out of their trap before we can rise above their bullshit. URGENT, PLEASE READ.

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.

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.

GATS and Financial Services Deregulation by Patricia Arnold

Medicare, Social Security and other governmentally subsidized financial services are put in grave danger by the GATS - This paper by a noted professor in accounting who has written a great deal of highly readable material on the WTO and its interaction with financial regulation is a short and concise intro to many of the major issues, particularly the threats GATS poses to Social Security and Medicare if those areas are allowed to compete with commercial banks or insurers. Caution is needed because millions could see huge changes in their only retirement benefits just as they were needed the most if Social Security and/or Medicare lose their protection from GATS rules, which is likely if current proposals are implemented,- see the Annex on Financial Services.

The Potential Impact of the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services on Health System Reform and Regulation in the United States. (2009)

This paper is perhaps one of the best introductions to the GATS and healthcare issue for Americans on this site. In this 2009 paper, the late Nicholas Skala, explains the "GATS" agreement, and its implications for US healthcare reform and why we urgently need to apply for and pursue a specific procedure (Article XXI) to withdraw from the GATS in order to avoid built in traps for the unwary, for example, to get sustainable public health care. If you only read a few papers on GATS on this site, make sure this is one and also read the materials on GATS Article I:3 and 'governmental authority exclusion" keyword. Also see "explainer" tagged items.

Public Citizen: Threats to Health Care Policy

"The WTO’s GATS delves into “areas never before recognized as trade policy"... "The GATS represents a 180-degree turn from the U.S. approach to health care policy − away from regulating industries for the benefit of the consumer, and towards regulating governments for the benefit of multinational firms and industries".

Public Citizen: Medicare and Social Security - SOS: Save our Services from the WTO

Bottom Line: If the Bush administration succeeds in even partially privatizing Social Security, under the WTO GATS agreement foreign corporations could end up with treaty rights to raid our tax dollars for profit and Americans could face shredded retirement and Medicare safety nets. For now, Social Security is probably safe from the GATS because the agreement exempts services that are exclusively a government monopoly and are not also offered on a commercial basis. But if Social Security is even partially privatized — as the Bush administration is advocating — and folks begin to invest some of their federal retirement funds in the stock market, then GATS would require some things that the privatizers don’t want to talk about. The agreements would: * permit foreign and offshore firms to compete for private Social Security accounts, thus preventing the most stringent regulation of these accounts and increasing the risks to retirees; * make it harder to fix Social Security after the privatization experiment predictably fails, because GATS requires that nations first compensate all of their trading partners for lost future economic opportunity if they “take back” the service from the private sector and make it public again. * Failure to compensate would result in punitive trade sanctions, which is why some say GATS makes privatization a one-way street.

WTO Conflict with Financial Re-Regulation

The General Agreement on Trade in Services does impose limits on many developing countries’ ability to regulate the financial sector. A response to the article “Regulatory Freedom under GATS: Financial Services Sector” by BK Zutshi, which argued otherwise. (by Todd Tucker and Jayati Ghosh)

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. "

GATS and Financial Services: Redefining Borders

"The First Annex brings financial services into the GATS definition of trade in services. Services conducted by a governmental authority, including central bank functions, statutory schemes for social security and retirement funds, and other government activities are excluded from the definition of services provided that such government does not permit private sector competition in the relevant area.' Members are permitted to retain a "prudential carve-out." That is, measures created for prudential reasons such as the protection of either depositors or financial system integrity are permitted so long as such measures are not designed to defeat the commitments under GATS. As with NAFTA, the prudential carve-out may have important implications: it will be the basis to defend virtually all actions in the financial services sector that are the subject of a dispute."

United Nations (Service Sectors) Sectoral Classification List (W/120) This is the service sector list that the WTO GATS uses.

The services sectoral classification list (W/120) is a comprehensive list of services sectors and sub-sectors covered under the GATS. It was compiled by the WTO in July 1991 and its purpose was to facilitate the Uruguay Round negotiations, ensuring cross-country comparability and consistency of the commitments undertaken. The 160 sub-sectors are defined as aggregate of the more detailed categories contained in the United Nations provisional Central Product Classification (CPC). The list is also available at the WTO website at:

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.

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?

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 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.

The Interaction between European and International Liberalisation of International Trade in Banking Services

by Bart De Meester - This is a doctoral thesis, a quite substantial tome, written like a textbook, on banking and the WTO, its particularly useful it seems because the areas I am interested in have gotten examination in the European context - here in the US where the GATS is not well known to put it mildly, perhaps not so much, at least I have not found much. Plus I cant afford to go out buying books on the subject, as they are expensive, really expensive. Anyway, this looks very informative and its quite understandable as these kinds of books go. I'm sure Mr. De Meester will do very well. Thank you!

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.

Reckless Abandon Canada, the GATS and the Future of Health Care

This study shows that, contrary to repeated assurances from federal government officials, the government has, in fact, recklessly exposed health care to the GATS commercial rules. Matthew Sanger made the discovery that health insurance has already been included in the list of Canadian services which are subjected to the full force of the GATS rules.

Regional Trade Agreements and Trade in Services

Ortino, Federico, Regional Trade Agreements and Trade in Services. in BILATERAL AND REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS: COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS AND CASE STUDIES, Lester & Mercurio, eds, Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: .... Quote: "‘measures by Members’ means measures taken by central, regional or local governments and authorities as well as non-governmental bodies in the exercise of powers delegated by central, regional or local governments or authorities. However, GATS only requires Members to take such reasonable measures as may be available to them to secure compliance with GATS rules by sub-central and non-governmental bodies (Article I.3(a)). ‘Measures by Members affecting trade in services’ include measures in respect of (i) the purchase, payment or use of a service; (ii) the access to and use of, in connection with the supply of a service, services which are required by those Members to be offered to the public generally; (iii) the presence, including commercial presence, of persons of a Member for the supply of a service in the territory of another Member (Article XXVIII(c)). This list being indicative, the inquiry centers around the term ‘affecting’. WTO jurisprudence has interpreted broadly the term ‘affecting’. A measure affects trade in service when the measure ‘modifies the conditions of competition in supply of a service.’ In other words, GATS disciplines apply, in principle, to any measure of a Member to the extent it affects the supply of a service, regardless of whether such measure directly governs the supply of a service, or whether it regulates other matters but nevertheless affects indirectly trade in services. Furthermore, in line with GATT/WTO jurisprudence, in order to determine whether a measure ‘affects’ trade in services, there is no need to determine actual effects, rather it is enough to demonstrate a potential effect on trade".

Medicaid Expansion in Health Reform Not Likely to “Crowd Out” Private Insurance

"Contrary to claims by some critics, the Medicaid expansion in the new health reform law will overwhelmingly provide coverage to people who otherwise would be uninsured, rather than shift people who already have private coverage to Medicaid." --- comment: This concept of "crowd-out" was literally created by the GATS and it's concept of minimal trade restrictiveness which requires that all government-subsidized measures be the most minimal possible - as well as possibly time limited, for example, only available to either an individual for only a few years, or possibly a country - for only a short period, perhaps a decade or less, (or perhaps only if they are and remain an LDC) . In this case, Medicaid is kind of a loan, not an insurance program, as it is subject to repayment, and only available to the destitute, and near destitute with assets that will only become available at their deaths, such as a home - after their other options have been used up. This "prevents healthcare prices from falling", and "preserves the profit in selling insurance", and "the value of the insurance companies investment". These are the most important things in a for-profit healthcare system. Especially as it becomes "The one bright spot in a dismal economy"

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

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.

The drug pricing policy web site of pricing expert Donald W. Light.

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 General Agreement On Trade In Services: Implications For Health Policymakers (Health Affairs)

The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), created under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, aims to regulate measures affecting international trade in services—including health services such as health insurance, hospital services, telemedicine, and acquisition of medical treatment abroad. The agreement has been the subject of great controversy, for it may affect the freedom with which countries can change the shape of their domestic health care systems. We explain the rationale behind the agreement and discuss its scope. We also address the major controversies surrounding the GATS and their implications for the U.S. health care system

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