GATS

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"

Insurance developments that could lead us into COSTLY FTA-lock-in

Which would block any further changes in health insurance, because we have accepted the faulty premise that foreign corporations deserve more than the American people who have been dying at the rate of 50-150 people a day because of their GATS scam. Work in progress

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.

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."

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."

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, it also discusses 'carve outs' and why they are needed by Canada to protect their Medicare (public health care) from Trade Agreements that try to destroy, and privatize them. This death of a thousand cuts is caused by GATS, that is what's been done to the UK's NHS.

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.

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 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"

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

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 better quality health care. This report is a must read for anybody interested in the United States health insurance situation. Note that we need to withdraw our country from these service sectors to be able to fix this problem. Note also that the situation could become much worse if additional trade agreements are signed, such as the "Friends of Services" negotiations going on in Geneva in 2006, which became TISA.

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.

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

Highly secretive talks began in 2012 to establish a new trade agreement, the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). The group of countries 1 negotiating TISA have given themselves an insider joke for a name, the 'Really Good Friends of Services' 2 , 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.

British firm may have created a successful lock in of US healthcare policy, read story to understand how scary this kind of corporate lock-in is.

It was a mystifying story. In 2014, a Midwestern TV station - in response to a viewer tip, reported on a mysterious warehouse of contractors of a controversial British firm who were allegedly "being paid to do nothing". Even though its existing workforce were literally going crazy from not having enough work to do, the company hired more people. Here we are also going to discuss the concept of "moral hazard" and governments, a discussion that has nothing to do with any particular company.

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.

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

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)

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."

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.

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.

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.

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

The Trade in Services Agreement extends the WTO GATS agreement and does so in a way that attempts to legitimize it retrospectively, it seems. It even uses the (1990s) dates from the GATS agreement. Could it really act as a standstill effective in the 1990s exposing later attempts at regulation to challenge and roll back? It seems as if that may be what is happening. (speculation on my part) Why?

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)

In this 2009 paper, the late Nicholas Skala explained the "GATS" agreement, its implications for US healthcare reform (its many conflicts with many of the things that were done in the ACA and which are proposed for Medicare For All) and why we urgently need to get carve-outs in the WTO (and the WTO's implications for Social Security and Medicare). He even gave us a sample of a carve-out-Its urgent that we do this, soon. This paper is a must-read for anybody interested in US health care reform and the obstacles to it.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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-

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

This is another article discussing the 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 bar government subsidization except if its 'minimally trade restrictive') - by Markus Krajewski

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)

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.)

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".

Domestic Regulation in Services: Members Weigh Options for Levelling Playing Field

Pesky countries are still setting their own policies which often have the effect, intentionally or not, of discriminating against foreign corporations (who are allowed it seems to discriminate against the local country's workers for any reason they want.) When countries try to set up programs like those during the New Deal that channel jobs to the unemployed, they are likely to run into WTO "deregulations".