Recently Added Links , Articles and News

(India's) Cashless economy brought about by demonetisation hurt the poor and the economy

India's project to use biometrics to set up a cashless economy that was friendly to illiterate people is particularly scary to me. Am I imagining this, or does that seem to you as if it portends a sort of giving up on education of the poor, because using biometrics, they can identify them for administrative purposes (the system uses retinal scanning) without the poor even needing to know how to read or write their own name.

Trade Liberalization & Women’s Reproductive Health

Women often are charged with the responsibility of caring for their families’ health, education and nutrition, and they often supplement, or earn the entirety of, the family’s income, and provide household labor to maintain upkeep of their homes. The liberalization of international trade increasingly affects women’s health by creating new opportunities to improve reproductive health as well as new obstacles to advance reproductive/sexual health and rights objectives in policies, programs and services. New employment opportunities may open up for women, for example, which may enable them to achieve higher income levels and greater access to health services and technology. However, trade liberalization also may lead to higher costs of health services and supplies, lower quality of services, shortages of critical medical personnel because of increased migration or a concentration of health services that may restrict access for lower-income or remote populations

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

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."

The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations

Do international organizations really do what their creators intend them to do? In the past century the number of international organizations (1Os) has increased exponen- tially, and we have a variety of vigorous theories to explain why they have been created. . Most of these theories explain IO creation as a response to problems of transaction costs, incomplete information, and other barriers to Pareto efficiency and welfare improvement for their members.

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]).

“That’s All They’ve Got?” (PCGTW 2010) "What Latest WTO Secretariat Paper on Financial Crisis Does and Does Not Say About GATS Disciplines on Financial Regulation"

March 15, 2010 by Todd Tucker and Public Citizen Global Trade Watch: "On February 3, the WTO issued a document that many in Geneva call the “non-response” to over a year of growing questions from WTO member countries and others about the connection between the rules of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) on financial services and the global economic crisis. 1 Indeed, this was the Secretariat’s first major study 2 in nearly 12 years about the WTO’s financial service rules. 3 The new paper is a disappointment to anyone hoping for a convincing rebuttal to charges that the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) promotes financial services deregulation...

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.

WTO/GATS and the Global Politics of Higher Education

By Antoni Verger - This is one of the best full sized books I have read on the GATS and its implications for education. If you are an educator or are concerned about the global push for privatization of education under the GATS and the various debates informing it, this book is really quite informative.. See also https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&as_q=&as_epq=WTO%2FGATS+and+the+Global+Politics+of+Higher+Education

The Limited Case for Permitting SME Procurement Preferences in the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement

"Any agreement to liberalize procurement markets should deal with the reality that some states have longstanding policies supporting firms owned and controlled by historically disadvantaged individuals, rooted in the constitutional orders of those states. Substantial noneconomic rationales, grounded in notions of social justice and human rights, support these programmes, but the domain of these rationales as they are currently understood is limited to domestic societies. This limitation affects all negotiations to liberalize trade across national borders, in that states (or their leaders) do not hold the view that they have obligations to support the programmes of other states in the area of social justice. I argue that all WTO members should have an equal opportunity to implement noneconomic policies having to do with promoting justice within their borders for their citizens. "

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.

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."

The GATS and Canadian Postal Services

The 60-page study, " The GATS and Canadian Postal Services," examines the implications of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the current negotiations to expand it for Canada Post and Canadian postal services. US-based multinational courier companies are using the GATS negotiations to try to force Canada Post out of parcel delivery and other competitive services. "Restricting Canada Post to core letter-mail services would doom the Canadian public postal system to gradual erosion and decline," said Sinclair Foreign multinationals are seeking GATS-enforceable rights to Canada Post's advantages without being encumbered by its public service obligations, according to the study. The report's key findings include: The GATS conflicts with existing multilateral rules that ensure the delivery of international mail--the Universal Postal Union rules. The GATS prohibits minimum service requirements in Canada's rural areas and the north. By covering courier services under the GATS, negotiators have exposed Canada Post to challenges under the GATS anti-monopoly rules. A quirk of the United Nations system for classifying services may be all that protects Canada from an even more devastating national treatment challenge. This vital protection however, is at risk in ongoing discussions in Geneva to reclassify postal and courier services. The study urges that Canada's trade policy objectives and negotiating strategy be brought into line with the clear Parliamentary mandate given to Canada Post. The report suggests immediate steps that Canada should take to protect public postal services under the GATS. "But the many threats posed by the GATS to the Canadian public postal system demonstrate that it is a deeply flawed agreement hostile to public services and to regulation in the public interest," Sinclair concludes.

Whistleblowing in a Foreign Key: The Consistency of Ethics Regulation Under Sarbanes-Oxley with the WTO Gats Provisions

By Stewart M. Young - United States Attorney's Office - District of Utah Abstract This Article discusses the consistency of the legal regime established by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the ethical regulations proposed by the SEC, in relation to the legal services portion of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) General Agreement on Trades in Services (GATS). It discusses the GATS and its effect on the legal services market in general. It then examines how the ethics commitments in the United States Schedule of Commitments to GATS are treated. It examines the new ethical responsibility requirements imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the subsequent proposals by the SEC. It concludes by demonstrating that the ethical requirements imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the SEC are not consistent with the United States' obligations under GATS regarding legal services. This Article also discusses possible approaches to reconciling the proposed rules with GATS and action that might be taken by WTO member countries, including under the dispute resolution provisions of the WTO agreements. The ultimate conclusion of this Article is that the SEC-proposed standards as applied to nondomestic law firms are potentially irreconcilable with GATS, and likely to create friction between the United States and a number of our trading partners. The most important purpose of this Article is to analyze the inconsistency of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the proposed SEC rules with GATS. Second, this Article can be read as a case study for the domestic imposition of ethical standards on the trade in services and legal services field in general. Third, this Article will potentially add fuel to the fire for implementing international ethical standards in certain global service industries, including the legal services field in particular. Keywords: Sarbanes-Oxley, SEC, World Trade Organization, WTO, General Agreement on Trade in Services, GATS, ethics regulation

We Own It: UK

"Privatisation has failed - it’s a fringe, extreme ideology. A majority of us believe public services should work for people not profit."

High prices, poor access: What is Big Pharma fighting for in Brussels?

Big Pharma's lobby machine ground into top gear to defend its privileges, doing its best to remove or weaken regulatory measures. A close relationship with the Commission –which fails to take undue industry influence seriously– has played a key role, as has the lobbying firepower of Big Pharma. The top ten biggest spending companies, for example, have increased their lobby budget by €2 million since 2015, and Big Pharma's main lobby group EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) sits on eight of the Commission’s advisory groups. Big Pharma has also rolled out a PR offensive harnessing the powerful emotions around illness, designed to deflect criticism and narrow the scope for debate. Thanks to this lobbying arsenal, the industry has succeeded in influencing the review into pharma incentives and rewards (such as intellectual property rules), as well as a change to a type of patent extension called an SPC (supplementary protection certificate) which allows companies to extend the period of monopoly pricing. It has also affected a proposal for EU collaboration to assess how effective new medicines and health technologies are relative to existing ones, something which helps member states negotiate prices. Drug companies promote the use of ‘new’ drugs because they still have patent protection, and are therefore more expensive, over old ones that don't, even if the new product is not an improvement in medical terms.

Perilous Lessons: The Impact of the WTO Services Agreement (GATS) on Canada's Public Education System

Written for professionals and citizens alike, this book provides a primer on a little-known agreement within the World Trade Organization, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). It highlights the threats the treaty already poses and, using highly plausible scenarios, describes how it could undermine public education in the future. Trade policy specialists Matt Sanger and Jim Grieshaber-Otto dissect federal government efforts to reassure and mislead Canadians about the threats GATS poses to public education. They advocate specific changes to Canada's negotiating approach to safeguard our vital public education system. GATS "services" negotiations that are now underway in Geneva pose a significant danger to our public education system. Reading this book is a critical first step towards doing something about it.

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.

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.

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".

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=995781 .... 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".

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.

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.

Trade in Higher Education Services: The Implications of GATS - Dr. Jane Knight (UNESCO)

"Trade in higher education services is a billion dollar industry, including recruitment of international students, establishment of university campuses abroad, franchised provision and online learning. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is currently being negotiated under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). GATS is designed to increase trade liberalisation internationally, and includes ‘education’ as a service sector. Examples of perceived ‘barriers’ in the trade in higher education services might include visa restrictions, taxation that disadvantages foreign institutions and accreditation arrangements that privilege domestic institutions and qualifications. Some view GATS as a positive force, accelerating the influx of private and foreign providers of higher education into countries where domestic capacity is inadequate. Other take a more negative view, concerned that liberalisation may compromise important elements of quality assurance and permit private and foreign providers to monopolise the best students and most lucrative programmes. Many aspects of GATS are open to interpretation, and many nations have yet to fully engage in the process, at least in respect of the potential implications for education. In this report, Dr Jane Knight of the University of Toronto, an expert in the internationalisation of higher education, sets out a clear overview of the GATS agenda, and considers a wide range of issues that may affect developing and developed countries".

Squaring the Circle? Reconciling Sovereignty and Global Governance Through Global Government Networks (Review of Anne-Marie Slaughter, a New World Order)

Anderson, Kenneth, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 118, pp. 1255-1312, January 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=669842 "Anne-Marie Slaughter's widely noticed book, A New World Order (Princeton UP 2004), proposes that the emerging form of global governance is neither a world government nor global governance by partnerships of public international organizations and global civil society, yet neither is it the existing relationship of sovereign states. A form of global governance is emerging, she argues, which can resolve this dilemma in the form of global government networks - networks of national agencies (and courts) working with their counterparts and homologues worldwide to deal with a wide variety of global concerns. The review locates Slaughter's argument within the debate over international relations realism and idealism, and further locates it within a continuum of seven idealized positions in the debate between global governance and sovereignty, with pure sovereignty at one extreme and world government at the other, with the most relevant positions of democratic sovereignty and liberal internationalism located in the middle. The article concludes that Slaughter's vision of global governance through global government networks, ingenious as it is, does not finally avoid spitting us on at least one horn of the global governance dilemma, because ultimately it privileges global networks over democratic sovereignty".

A Just World Under Law: A View From the South by BS Chimni

This is an important work - very much worth reading. Here are two quotes from it.: "Transnational capital sees a borderless world economy as its field of operation leading to the globalization of national production and financial systems. Its third world component plays the role of a junior partner with the crucial task of legitimizing the vision of global capital in its own world. There is also support for this vision in a growing global middle class that hopes to benefit from the ongoing globalization process." ... then he goes on to discuss a number of core concepts which need discussion - "The unified global economic space is being established through a range of international law instruments that include international trade law as embodied in World Trade Organization ("WTO") texts and international monetary law as prescribed by international financial institutions. The key development here is the prescription of minimum uniform global standards. That is to say, irrespective of the sovereign territory on which transnational capital operates it is increasingly governed by the same set of norms or norms that possess family resemblance. For example, every WTO member state has to abide by the norms governing intellectual property rights as embodied in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPS"). Some states merely get a longer transition period in which to implement them. The examples can easily be multiplied. The emergence of a unified global economic space may also be conceptualized in terms of the growing internationalization of property rights through the medium of international law. Indeed, the phenomenon of internationalization of property rights is crucial to the creation of a unified global economic space. "

Federalism in an Era of International Free Trade THE GENERAL AGREEMENT ON TRADE IN SERVICES AND THE REGULATION OF INSURANCE IN THE UNITED STATES

(A student paper that is mostly about states rights and their potential conflict with GATS. However its quite useful because the author seems to have collected references from many other essays and papers in one place, and formatted them for legal citation. Won an ABA award.) by Ethan Marks in Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal Vol. 50, No. 1 (FALL 2014), pp. 129-154 Published by: American Bar Association "This paper placed first in the 2014 law student writing competition of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section" (RIP Nicholas Skala)

Federal Legislation Seeks to Stop States from Denying or Revoking Licenses Due to Unpaid Student Debt

Student loan debt is a reality for Americans of all ages. The total student loan debt in America is about $1.3 trillion, a figure that has doubled in the last decade. Student loan debt is the second-highest category of debt in America, second only to mortgage-related debt.[1] At the same time, student loan default rates have steadily increased over the last several decades, and “nearly 40 percent of borrowers are expected to default on their student loans by 2023.”[2] Projections like these have driven state and federal governments to be more focused than ever on collecting outstanding student loan debt. Following the lead of the federal Department of Education, some state governments have turned to solutions that exacerbate the problem. Currently, 20 states have laws on the books that allow states to deny applications for or revoke professional and occupational licensure from those who are in default on their student loan debt.[3] The policy of licensure action on those individuals in default on their student loans traces back to a 1990 document from the federal Department of Education titled “Reducing Student Loan Defaults: A Plan for Action.”[4] As the number of student loan defaults steadily increased, the Department of Education recommended (among other solutions) that states “enact legislation to deny professional licenses and state jobs to defaulters until they make adequate repayment arrangements.” Revoking or denying licenses as an incentive to pay back student loans can be self-defeating. It is much more daunting to pay back a loan if one is barred by the state from gainful employment in their field. Without a driver’s license, potential workers, college graduate or not (two-thirds of borrowers who default on student loans did not finish their degree[5]), are often lack reliable transportation to and from work, especially in areas with little to no public transit. And with little support from the state or federal governments until the loans are in repayment, these policies can force people into an unwinnable situation.

Odious Debt (IMF)

"Similarly, Anastasio Somoza was reported to have looted $100-500 million from Nicaragua by the time he was overthrown in 1979. Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega told the United Nations General Assembly that his government would repudiate Somoza's debt, but reconsidered when his country's allies in Cuba advised him that doing so would unwisely alienate Nicaragua from Western capitalist countries. Some countries have attempted to confiscate and restitute funds that an ex-ruler salted away abroad, but with mixed results. For example, Nigeria recently recouped money from Sani Abacha's family, but the Philippines has little to show for its protracted campaign to repatriate Ferdinand Marcos's fortune. Moreover, any money that has been squandered is gone forever."

Can’t Pay Back, Won’t Pay Back: Iceland’s Loud No

Silla Sigurgeirsdóttir and Robert H Wade – Le Monde Diplomatique The people of Iceland have now twice voted not to repay international debts incurred by banks, and bankers, for which the whole island is being held responsible. With the present turmoil in European capitals, could this be the way forward for other economies? The small island of Iceland has lessons for the world. It held a referendum in April to decide, more or less, whether ordinary people should pay for the folly of the bankers (and by extension, could governments control the corporate sector if they depended on it for finance). Sixty per cent of the population rejected an agreement negotiated between Iceland, the Netherlands and the UK to pay back the British and Dutch governments for the money they spent to recompense savers with the failed bank Icesave. That was less resistance than the first referendum last spring, when 93% voted no.

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.

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"

Four modes of WTO

slideshow explaining the four modes - a key concept to understanding how services trade is scheduled.

The Official Propaganda in the DPRK: Ideas and Methods

by Andrei Lankov - These two articles are still among the best short explanations of how the Kim family maintains their iron grip on North Korea. The companion to this one is The Repressive System and the Political Control in North Korea

General Agreement on Trade in Services: negotiations concerning Domestic Regulations under GATS Article VI(4)

(November 24, 2000) "In the current preparatory negotiations on services (part of the “built-in” agenda at the WTO) governments are developing positions regarding GATS Article VI(4) which requires the development of “disciplines” on countries’ domestic regulations over services. Specifically, the article seeks to prevent “unnecessary barriers to trade” in regulations regarding “qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements” and to ensure that regulations are “not more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service.” In our view, this entire exercise is unjustified. There should be no role for the WTO in overseeing non-discriminatory domestic regulations (those which do not discriminate in standards and qualifications based on nationality.) This exercise represents a wholly unwarranted intrusion of trade law into important domestic public safety laws".

Plan B: Declaration For a Democratic Rebellion in Europe

Democratic Europeans are fighting back against state capture: "A movement to place human rights, civil, political, social, economic, cultural and democratic rights, at the heart of the european project, as an intrinsic part of democracy."

The Value For Money Debt audit: An alternative weapon against state capture

by Mary Serumaga on the CADTM.org anti-debt web site "Many African nations are mired in huge debts arising from foreign loans that have hardly benefitted the people. The citizens need to audit these debts. Odious debts should be repudiated, damn the consequences. Moreover, as Thomas Sankara demonstrated in the four years he was president of Burkina Faso, African nations do not need foreign loans to meet the needs of their people. In the 1990s, post-war Uganda was restructuring the civil service. The country was awash with World Bank funds and donor grants for ‘re-tooling’ public offices, capacity building and rehabilitating infrastructure. At the time, short landings were the order of the day. It is a universal fraudulent practice involving a supplier of goods delivering less than the goods paid for or nothing at all, and then being issued a goods received note by a colluding administrator. The supplier is then paid against the Note. Locally it was called ‘air supply.’"

Municipalities and citizens movement defeat anti-democratic EU directive

"Trade unions and other social movements, city councilors, municipalities, regional councils and even some governments can now claim victory over a proposal tabled by the European Commission in January 2017. - The proposed Notification Procedure directive would have given the Commission veto powers over rules and regulations tabled in the area of services, and it has been clear from the beginning, that it would affect areas such as child care, public services, city planning and labour rights at all levels of government – from the very local to the national level. In a vast and sensitive area of the economy, the Commission claimed the right to scrutinize draft laws well before they were adopted, to change them and to have them repealed should they be adopted in a form not in sync with strict market disciplines."

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)

Causes of the Debt Crisis - Global Issues

"Third world debt has long been recognized as a major obstacle to human development. Many other problems have arisen because of the enormous debt that third world countries owe to rich countries. Debt has impeded sustainable human development, security and political or economic stability. How has this happened?" (Note: it seems this odious and illegitimate "Third World Debt" is cited as one of the reasons for the GATS (???) by the UN in document A/RES/44/232 )

How the World Trade Organization’s new “services” negotiations threaten democracy

Scott Sinclair: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The GATS is extraordinarily broad, dealing with every service imaginable. It applies to measures of all governments, whether federal, First Nation, provincial, state, regional or municipal. It employs both “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches to covering measures and sectors. The agreement is not confined to cross-border trade, but intrudes into many domestic policy areas including environment, culture, natural resources, health care, education and social services.

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

Facing Facts

Both proponents and critics agree that the scope of the GATS is very broad. Its extraordinary breadth derives from the incredible diversity of services, the architecture of the agreement, and the expansive way the GATS defines key terms. The subject matter of the GATS—services—is almost unimaginably broad. Services range from birth (midwifery) to death (burial); the trivial (shoe-shining) to the critical (heart surgery); the personal (haircutting) to the social (primary education); low-tech (household help) to high-tech (satellite communications); and from our wants (retail sales of toys) to our needs (water distribution). The GATS applies to all measures affecting “trade in services,” broadly defined. It covers measures taken by all levels of government, including central, regional, and local governments. It also applies to professional associations, standards-setting bodies, and boards of hospitals, schools and universities, where these bodies exercise authority conferred upon them by any level of government. In other words, no government action, whatever its purpose - protecting the environment, safeguarding consumers, enforcing labour standards, promoting fair competition, ensuring universal service or any other end—is, in principle, beyond GATS scrutiny and potential challenge. --- As a former director general of the WTO has correctly noted, the GATS extends “into areas never before recognized as trade policy.” Not limited to cross-border trade, it extends to every possible means of providing a service internationally, including investment. While this broad application does not mean all services-related measures violate the treaty, it does mean that any regulatory or legislative initiative in any WTO-member country must now be vetted for GATS consistency or risk possible challenge. The treaty covers “any service in any sector” with only limited exceptions; no service sector is excluded a priori. This all-inclusive framework binds member governments to certain GATS rules that already apply across all sectors—even those where no specific commitments have been made. It also means that all service sectors are on the table in ongoing, continuous negotiations."

A/RES/44/232. Trends in the transfer of resources to and from the developing countries and their impact on the economic growth and sustained development of those countries

Note Paragraph F, which refers to the meeting in Punta Del Este, Uruguay that established the process that led to the creation of the WTO and begun a "standstill" during which time Member nations were to stop making regulations of any kind which impeded this goal (thats how they frame the expansion or especially creation of what we call public services.) So after that point, we were legally bound not to create a public healthcare system, a problem that continues to this day. So, all around the world, often politicians promising changes that are blocked by these treaties. Instead, a great many countries including (especially) the US and the other countries that made commitments in those areas are bound.

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.

PharmaMyths.net

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

Opposition in International Law – Alternativity and Revisibility as Elements of a Legitimacy Concept for Public International Law - by ISABELLE LEY

As international law is widening in regulatory scope and intensity, it arguably suffers from a legitimacy deficit. This article conceives of this deficit as a deficit in possibilities to politicize, criticize, and contest international law-making proposals in the way a loyal opposition does in a domestic constitutional context: through the representation of relevant societal interests, the voicing of critique, and the safeguarding of alternative proposals for the future. The author of this article tries to bring together the current debate in political theory on the value of legitimate disagreement and dissent in political institutions and the ongoing discussion on the legitimacy of international law. Therefore, a concept of an institutionalized opposition for international law-making processes is developed, referencing authors such as Hannah Arendt and Claude Lefort. Next, the author analyses whether one can already find instances of an institutionalized opposition in international law – in parliamentary assemblies and in international agreements which are designed to present a legal–political counterweight to specific legal concepts and institutions.

GATT-PUNTA DEL ESTE DECLARATION

This is the declaration -made on September 20, 1986 - in Punta Del Este, part of the Uruguay Round, where services were officially inserted into the GATT talks that were to become the WTO. So its when the US began to lose its regulatory autonomy. Despite its brevity, in retrospect, this became in every sense a deal between the world's oligarchs to put aside democracy and lock down the future. Note that this meeting and document were also referenced in UN document A/RES/44/232 "Trends in the transfer of resources to and from the developing countries and their impact on the economic growth and sustained development of those countries"

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.

Multinational Corporations and Health Care in the United States and Latin America: Strategies, Actions, and Effects

"In this article we analyze the corporate dominance of health care in the United States and the dynamics that have motivated the international expansion of multinational health care corporations, especially to Latin America. We identify the strategies, actions, and effects of multinational corporations in health care delivery and public health policies. Our methods have included systematic bibliographical research and in-depth interviews in the United States, Mexico, and Brazil. Influenced by public policy makers in the United States, such organizations as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization have advocated policies that encourage reduction and privatization of health care and public health services previously provided in the public sector."

What is FastTrack

by Maine Fair Trade Campaign - What Fast Track is is DANGER, because IMHO these deals are a scam, that no legislator or member of the electorate in their right mind would ever vote for.

GATS and Congress

These are the services that are regulated by GATS. "Health insurance" and many more. "These are the hot button issues of our time".

"Achmea: The Beginning of the End for ISDS in and with Europe?"

"The Achmea case essentially concerned a preliminary reference by the German Federal Court of Justice over whether EU law precluded the application of an arbitration clause in an IIA between EU member states. Slovakia had challenged before German courts the jurisdiction of an investment tribunal constituted under the Dutch–Slovak bilateral investment treaty (BIT). A Dutch investor (Achmea) had seized that investment tribunal over a partial reversal of the Slovak government’s decision in 2004 to privatize the health insurance market. In 2007 Slovakia had prohibited the distribution of profits generated by private health insurance activities. The investment tribunal considered this a breach of the BIT and awarded Achmea damages of EUR 22.1 million."

Video: GATS- What is it?

Concise, very fast video cram course on GATS by an expert in it. Don't blink or you might miss something important. For example, at 5:55 Prof. Stumberg describes why the two US parties never seem to compromise any more, everything done in dozens of services must only deregulate, not re-regulate. Basically, it's a GOP wet dream. thats Locked in.

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.

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."

Topic- Carve-outs

Americans need to get broad carve outs in existing FTAs as well as future ones written into laws so legislators and executives cannot use trade agreements to do an end run around the voters wishes. Or they will. Making elections meaningless. This "carve-outs" category broadly defines alterations to trade agreements to modify their terms, so that countries can gain needed policy space back from trade agreements that attempt to hijack it forever. Note many FTAS also have an explicit procedure for modifying existing commitments. Like GATS Article XXI that must also be followed.

The politics of the private finance initiative and the new NHS

"This is the last of four articles on Britain's public-private partnership in health care We began this series by arguing that the private finance initiative, far from being a new source of funding for NHS infrastructure, is a financing mechanism that greatly increases the cost to the taxpayer of NHS capital development. The second paper showed that the justification for the higher costs of the private finance initiative—the transfer of risk to the private sector—was not borne out by the evidence. The third paper showed the impact of these higher costs at local level on the revenue budgets of NHS trusts and health authorities, is to distort planning decisions and to reduce planned staffing and service levels."

Global Trade and Public Health

"Global trade and international trade agreements have transformed the capacity of governments to monitor and to protect public health, to regulate occupational and environmental health conditions and food products, and to ensure affordable access to medications". (This basically means they have stolen the right to regulate, or are in the process of stealing it.)

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."

State Capture

The classical definition of state capture refers to the way formal procedures (such as laws and social norms) and government bureaucracy are manipulated by private individuals and firms so as to influence state policies and laws in their favour. State capture seeks to influence the formation of laws to protect and promote influential private interests. In this way it differs from most other forms of corruption which instead seek selective enforcement of already existing laws.[3] State capture may not be illegal, depending on determination by the captured state itself,[4] and might be attempted through private lobbying and influence. The influence may be through a range of state institutions, including the legislature, executive, ministries and the judiciary, or through a corrupt electoral process. It is similar to regulatory capture but differs in the scale and variety of influenced areas and, unlike regulatory capture, the private influence is never overt. The private influences cannot be discovered by lawful processes, since the legislative process, judiciary, electoral process, and/or executive powers have been subverted.

US involvement in India demonetization - Big US companies behind the Indian "cashless cities " movement.

One worry I have though is, what happens if there is a strong solar storm, which could wipe out the energy grid and also, telecommunications for some time. (possibly years, as transformers that carry electricity are expensive, manufacturing capacity is limited, and they are difficult to replace) Another risk is multiple nuclear meltdowns due to loss of the ultimate heatsink. Cashless could mean no way to purchase food for an extended period of time.

OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index - Regulatory database

This is the index hosted by the OECD (one of several indices of trade restrictiveness) that countries can use to consult if their services regulations comply with "Minimal Trade Restrictiveness" rules that limit what a country can regulate. For example, WTO rules require that measures (basically all national laws, regulations or policies, at the federal, state or local level ) be 'not more burdensome (on corporations) than necessary to ensure the quality of the service'.

Good cop/bad cop

"Good cop/bad cop" routine, also called joint questioning or friend and foe, is a psychological tactic used in negotiation and interrogation. "Good cop/bad cop" tactics involve a team of two interrogators who take apparently opposing approaches to the subject. The interrogators may interview the subject alternately or may confront the subject at the same time.

The Good Cop, Bad Cop Negotiation Strategy

The good cop, bad cop negotiation strategy is common in sales negotiations and other competitive contexts. Learn to identify and defuse this persuasion ploy when it’s tried on you.

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 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

LOOTING:The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit.

NBER Working Paper No. R1869 During the 1980s, a number of unusual financial crises occurred. In Chile, for example, the financial sector collapsed, leaving the government with responsibility for extensive foreign debts. In the United States, large numbers of government-insured savings and loans became insolvent - and the government picked up the tab. In Dallas, Texas, real estate prices and construction continued to boom even after vacancies had skyrocketed, and the suffered a dramatic collapse. Also in the United States, the junk bond market, which fueled the takeover wave, had a similar boom and bust. In this paper, we use simple theory and direct evidence to highlight a common thread that runs through these four episodes. The theory suggests that this common thread may be relevant to other cases in which countries took on excessive foreign debt, governments had to bail out insolvent financial institutions, real estate prices increased dramatically and then fell, or new financial markets experienced a boom and bust. We describe the evidence, however, only for the cases of financial crisis in Chile, the thrift crisis in the United States, Dallas real estate and thrifts, and junk bonds. Our theoretical analysis shows that an economic underground can come to life if firms have an incentive to go broke for profit at society's expense (to loot) instead of to go for broke (to gamble on success). Bankruptcy for profit will occur if poor accounting, lax regulation, or low penalties for abuse give owners an incentive to pay themselves more than their firms are worth and then default on their debt obligations.

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

Adapting to a Highly Automated World

This is a very good paper that asks hard questions about what may happen in the near future as we get better and better at saving more and more labor. Its quite old but its very well done so it ages quite well, as a longtime amateur futurist I think more honest than many newer explorations of the same issues.

"Pre-Established" (status) and Financial Services Regulation in the GATS agreement

The status of whether a domestic law or regulation pre-existed the GATS agreement is an important status under WTO law. If an instrument or measure pre-existed the GATS it has far more lattitude to break GATS rules. This is why if we wait much longer, it may be very expensive, (based on the value of the lost business) perhaps nearly impossibly so, to establish a new "Medicare For All" (which does break GATS rules in a number of ways, for example, see Skala's paper) unless we immediately start the process of exiting and seeking carve outs from the GATS as far as this service sector. We should also start consulting experts so we can do that without destroying Medicare or Social Security's protection from GATS.

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.

Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior (PNAS)

Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.

GATS Backgrounder from Public Citizen (2005)

“Governments are free in principle to pursue any national policy objectives provided the relevant measures are compatible with the GATS.” –WTO, Oct. 1999 “GATS provides guarantees over a much wider field of regulation and law than the GATT; the right of establishment and the obligation to treat foreign services suppliers fairly and objectively in all relevant areas of domestic regulation extend the reach of the Agreement into areas never before recognized as trade policy.” Good intro to/overview of GATS-

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.

WTO - legal texts - Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services

"As of 2009, the 33 countries whose current schedules reference the Understanding include: Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States, as well as the European Communities members as of 1994 (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.) The only developing nations that utilized the Understanding were Aruba, Netherland Antilles, Nigeria, Sri Lanka (for banking not insurance), and Turkey. Additionally, eight countries (Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia) were in the process of revising their commitments to match the EC schedule" (from the commentary by Jane Kelsey on TISA Financial Services text) -- This document regulates government regulation of financial services like banking and insurance, including health insurance, greatly limiting what we can do. In particular it is thought to freeze new financial services regulations after its signing date, unless they were enumerated then. In the case of the US that date is February 26, 1998. If challenged in a WTO dispute proceeding a country that has violated a "standstill" may have to roll back its regulatory state to the level of regulation in effect on that date. A related concept, "ratchet" is also said to apply in WTO law - it denotes a one way capture of all deregulation in a committed sector making it a violation to re-regulate. See the definitions of "standstill", "rollback" and "ratchet" in trade parlance.

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

State Health Reform Flatlines

US states and the Federal government have tried the same things over and over again, and have repeatedly failed to make for-profit health insurance - especially nongroup insurance, affordable as more and more Americans fell theough the cracks. This paper details the history up to the mid 2000s. It shows how despite knowledge in high places that the strategies being used don't work, they continue to be recycled. (This is because the GATS and recent, even more ideologically extreme rules give them no choices that would work, and the ideology is a higher priority than people's lives.) Meanwhile 50-120 Americans die each day due to preventable factors amenable to improved healthcare or improved access to healthcare.

GATS and Women

"GATS is likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on women"

Model clauses for the exclusion of public services from trade and investment agreements ( EPSU & Markus Krajewski)

This paper discusses how trade agreements could be modified in the EU to protect their existing public services from trade and investment agreements which are designed to tear them apart and privatize public services against the people's will, behind their backs. _______ Unfortunately the EU examples given are much less applicable to the US because we are trying to do something which we ourselves devoted a great deal of energy into preventing by creating the WTO, other economic governance organizations and making all these conditions binding on ourselves especially, which seem generally to only allow the poorest (LDC) countries to set up new public services and monopolies. Also look up "LDC Services Waiver" for a related issue involving the jobs.

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.

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.

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.

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

David Price, Allyson M Pollock, Jean Shaoul, THE LANCET - Vol 354 - November 27,1999, pp. 1889-1891 "Multinational and transnational corporations, including the pharmaceutical, insurance, and service sectors, are lining up to capture the chunks of gross domestic product that governments currently spend on public services such as education and health. The long tradition of European welfare states based on solidarity through community risk-pooling and publicly accountable services is being dismantled. The US and European Union governments are aggressively backing this project in the interests of their business corporations. But the assault on our hospitals and schools and public-service infrastructure depends ultimately on a promise from one government to another to expand private markets. Such promises can be kept only if domestic opposition to privatisation is held in check. We need to constantly reassert the principles and values on which European health-care systems are based and resist the WTO agenda"

Trading Health Care Away? GATS, Public Services and Privatisation

"But talks have since begun to change one of the 28 agreements overseen by the WTO -- the General Agreement on Trade in Services or GATS. The US, EU, Japan and Canada are trying to revise GATS so that it could be used to overturn almost any legislation governing services from national to local level. And non-government organisations (NGOs) and trade unions are demanding that services in the public interest be clearly exempt from GATS. It details how public services may not in fact be excluded from GATS and explores the implications for public health care."

Patient Mobility Beyond Calais: Health Services Under WTO Law by Markus Krajewski

"The paper analyses the impact of WTO law on transnational patient mobility by transplanting the Watts case of the European Court of Justice into WTO law. The first part of the paper concerns the question whether medical or hospital treatment abroad concerns “trade in (health) services” in the meaning of the GATS. This part identifies the legal construction of this notion through the four modes of supply and also gives a short factual account of the scope and structure of trade in health services on a global level. The next part will ask more directly which measures fall into the scope of the GATS. In particular, it has to be determined whether the exclusion of services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority from the GATS influences the application of the agreement to health and medical services. Having determined under which circumstances the GATS applies to measures affecting the cross-border supply of health services, the subsequent part of the chapter discusses the substantive obligations of the GATS. After a short overview of the main principles of the GATS, the chapter will provide an in depth inquiry into the specific commitments in health services of the EU and other WTO Members, because only the exact analysis of the limitations and qualifications of these schedules allows us to clearly determine the impact of the GATS on the cross-border to provision of health services. In addition, the potential of the general exception clause of the GATS to justify regulations of health systems which violate GATS obligations needs to be ascertained. Lastly, the legal status of GATS in the EU legal order, in particular the contentious issue of direct effect, needs to be assessed, because only if the GATS is directly applicable would a patient who received medical treatment abroad be able to rely on the agreement to claim reimbursement of the costs of said treatment."

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.

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.

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?

Public Citizen: Health Care Memo

"...However, many of today’s international trade agreements establish binding obligations constraining federal, state and local government policy and actions in numerous service sectors, including health services. These rules are not limited to trade in services across borders, but also constrain government regulation of foreign service sector firms operating within the United States. As a result, today’s “trade” pacts are delving deeply into domestic regulatory issues that have little or nothing to do with the traditional concept of trade between nations".

Public Citizen: "Presidential Candidates' Key Proposals on Healthcare and Climate Will Require WTO Modifications"(2008)

This essay's by Public citizen explains how the 2008 Presidential candidates proposals (just as today) all violated provisions of the GATS agreement and US 'commitments' and other trade rules and how those commitments were likely to conflict with the promises, making them impossible or very difficult to implement the longer we waited. The references are extremely useful. Highly recommended you read this if you are interested in healthcare in the US.

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".

The recent Achmea case has received a lot of news coverage in Europe but almost none of it actually explains what the case was about. This PDF..

contains a factual summary (on page 13) which explains that the case was about the electoral victory in Slovakia of a candidate who ran on a platform of restoring single payer health care in the country, as well as limiting the profits of any health insurer, in the intirim period to 20% changes which which were immediately attacked in the first of two Investor vs. State arbitral lawsuits. Slovakia lost the first round. This case is also a good introduction to the sordid history of the IntraEUBITS.

Joint Declaration on the GATS agreement and Higher Education

Public higher education is under attack, globally. This attack begun in an WTO agreement called the General Agreement on Trade in Services, or 'GATS'. This is a statement on the GATS by the organizations that accredit literally thousands of universities in the US, Canada, and the EU, including the European University Association on whose web site it is hosted.

Services Trade and the Uruguay Round: An Issue Overview (December 5, 1995 CRS 95-1169)

"The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which went into effect on January 1, 1995, is a significant achievement, but only a first step on the road to liberalization of services barriers. For the first time, legally enforceable multilateral rules and principles for services trade are part of the international trading system. At the same time, the immediate elimination or reduction of barriers to services transactions was much less than desired by many. The GATS, however, includes provisions for future negotiations to liberalize trade. The Congress will have an important consultation role in these negotiations. If agreements are achieved, legislation may be necessary to implement them."

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.

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.