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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."

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"

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".

Four modes of WTO

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

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