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Carrying a Good Joke Too Far: TRIPS and Treaties of Adhesion

"A small, unindustrialized country enters into an agreement with a significantly larger, more industrialized country. The agreement must be signed before the small country is permitted to join an exclusive, wealth- generating organization. The small country is facing an epidemic of epic proportions. Already, twenty-two million of its citizens have died as a result of a deadly virus and over thirty million of its citizens are infected. Almost three million die every year. Thirteen million children are orphaned; 15,000 new people acquire the virus every day. The average fifteen-year-old citizen has more than a fifty percent chance of dying of the virus and is more likely to die of the virus than all other causes combined. Finally, while the virus attacks indiscriminately, it impacts the country's economic driving force-its farmers, teachers, blue-collar workers, young adults, and parents -particularly hard. The disease is treatable, but at a cost well out of reach of the country's citizens. The country attempts to address this crisis by implementing two methods, parallel importation and compulsory licensing, which will drastically reduce prices and ensure the supply of drugs at affordable prices. Upon enactment, the larger industrialized country demands that the smaller country halt implementation because the methods violate its obligations under the agreement." (Sound familiar? It should.)

Transnational mercantilism and the emergent global trading order

Jean-Christophe Graz ABSTRACT It is often argued that the problems currently facing the World Trade Organization stem from an important shift in the trade agenda from tariff reduction to the harmonisation of domestic regulations considered as non tariff barriers. From this perspective, the lack of harmonisation of domestic regulations severely impairs the capacity of the WTO to fulfil its mission. This article argues, in contrast, that the underlying problems facing the contemporary trade agenda are different, and are caused by a lack of differentiation in the regulatory framework of the WTO. To substantiate this claim, a conception of transnational mercantilism is derived from recent scholarly revisions of classical mercantilism. This clarifies a continuity between the external dimension and the comprehensive pattern of social organisation involved in the political economy of international trade. This framework is used to appraise four structures upon which trade policy is predicated: the implementation of market mechanisms, the embeddedness of trade in state-society relations, the link between trade and the natural environment, and special and differential treatment for developing countries. KEYWORDS World Trade Organisation; new trade agenda; Doha development agenda; international political economy; transnational mercantilism.

GATS' Article XXI procedure.

The potentially costly and time consuming procedure required to emancipate a country's service sector from the GATS. However it must be done or a country remains enslaved, its "leadership" unable to do anything except dig itself deeper and deeper into the hole, lying all the time..

Canada's CCPA's (progressive NGO) submission on the USMCA (new NAFTA)

CCPA recommendations for a better North American trade model The all-party House of Commons trade committee is consulting Canadians on their priorities for bilateral and trilateral North American trade in light of the current renegotiation of NAFTA. In the CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew, and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood argue for a different kind of trading relationship that is inclusive, transformative, and forward-looking—focused on today’s real challenges, including climate change, the changing nature of work, stagnant welfare gains, and unacceptable levels of inequality in all three North American countries. The CCPA submission largely repeats advice given to Global Affairs Canada during the department’s consultation on the NAFTA renegotiations, but is updated to take into account some of the proposals put forward by Canada and the U.S. during the first three rounds of talks.

COMMUNICATION FROM ARGENTINA, BOLIVIA, BRAZIL, CHILE, COLOMBIA, INDIA, MEXICO, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, THAILAND AND URUGUAY Categories of Natural Persons for Commitments under Mode 4 of GATS

"Mode 4 – Movement of Natural Persons to Provide Services Let’s start with the last of these categories first. A better term for “Mode 4” would be “domestic immigration policy.” In the United States, the Constitution gives the Congress exclusive authority for setting our domestic immigration policy (Article I-8.) The very notion that immigration policy would be set via GATS Mode 4 negotiations by trade negotiators in Geneva has our congressional leaders deeply concerned. Indeed, when such immigration provisions were slipped into U.S. Free 4Trade Agreements with Singapore and Chile, the agreements were nearly rejected by Congress and a commitment was obtained from the Bush Administration that future trade pacts would never again contain such provisions. I understand that here in the European Union there have been equally heated debates over immigration policy and I assume there are the same concerns about separation of powers and democratic accountability here as well. A group of developing countries led by India have joined together to forward a common position on Mode 4 that focuses on the cross border movement of professionals, but does not insist that these professionals are paid the same wages as their peers in developed nations. 5 Moreover, these proposals would set up a system within countries by which a class of workers would have their basic rights – indeed their very right to be in a country – controlled by their employer not the laws of the country in which they are working. This would not only undercut wages, work hours, vacation policy, the right to organize, and other labor policy in developed countries and generate foreseeably ugly social tension, but it would also exacerbate the problems of “brain drain” in the developing world. A respected study presented at the WTO that advocated increased Mode 4 liberalization showed that the community left behind by Mode 4 workers suffers significantly increased welfare costs. In other words, developing countries pay dearly for “brain drain” associated with outward migrating professionals. 6 Plus, the ongoing tragedy presented by the immigration of doctors and nurses from Africa to Europe and the United States has been well-documented. 7 Moreover, there have been various alarming proposals on licensing and qualification requirements (in the context of the Working Party on Domestic Regulations which is discussed in detail below). What is envisioned here are “harmonization exams” to establish equivalency and to facilitate the movement of workers across borders. National, state or provincial licensing requirements and “language competency” are characterized as unnecessary obstacles to the smooth flow of workers across borders. 8 Once professional service sectors are signed up to the GATS, “disciplines” are envisioned which would apply a “necessity test” to all domestic regulations relating to that profession. The WTO has already completed one such set of rules which apply to the accounting sector and require that licensing, qualification and technical standards be “no more trade restrictive than necessary.”" (quote from Lori Wallach Testimony to EU. The linked document is the proposal by a group of developing countries to set up and lock in a return to indentured servitude. They see this as their pay back for being in the WTO. It replaces immigration with corporate capture, for example, in the US, L1B visas - similar to H1B but with much lower wages and almost no rights. This is being pushed in on us very skillfully by what amounts to an international "coalition of the wealthy" under the radar as part of the GATS' and similar "agreements" coercive global takeover.)

Industry Lobbyists Gloss Over Red Flags: Trade and Public Policy Expert Lori Wallach's Testimony to the European Union

"Indeed, in parliaments around the world, many legislators consider that service sector policy – how to ensure that residents have health care, safe water, affordable electricity and gas and quality education – is within their jurisdiction rather than subject to distant “trade” negotiations. And, to the extent that most legislators are even aware of the negotiations now underway at the WTO on the GATS, their information largely comes from the perspective of service sector businesses who view the negotiations as a tool to go on the offensive to seek service sector business opportunities in other countries. The voice of the consumer who relies on having access to affordable, quality services is one that is not often considered in GATS negotiations. Yet the existing GATS rules pose significant threats to the ability of those who will live with the results – consumers – to have democratic decision-making over the service sector policies that will affect their daily lives. The existing GATS rules pose considerable threats to people’s affordable access to quality essential services and to the public interest regulations of services upon which we all rely. You have no doubt been told repeatedly that the right to regulate is secure in the GATS. It is true that the right to regulate is mentioned in the nonbinding preamble of the agreement, but the actual GATS rules trump this language, as described below. You may not know that GATS negotiators have rejected calls from the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) and others to enshrine the right to regulate in a binding article of the text of the agreement. As the original panel in the WTO challenge of the U.S. ban on internet gambling so pointedly stated: “members’ regulatory sovereignty is an essential pillar of the progressive liberalization of trade in services, but this sovereignty ends whenever rights of other members under the GATS are impaired.” 4 And now, a major push is underway to further expand the GATS – both as regards what service sectors are covered and the scope of the GATS disciplines to which domestic service sector policy must conform. In my written testimony, I have focused on four issues:..."

Health for some: death, disease and disparity in a globalizing era

By R Labonte, T Schrecker, AS Gupta. These vignettes show how recent, rapid changes in our global economy can imperil the health of millions. The first describes a real event. 1 The other three are composites, like those used in the World Bank's World Development Report 1995 (World Bank 1995), but in …

Trilemma

The trilemma of hyper-globalization.

The "Prudential Exception" In The GATS After The Case Argentina – Financial Services

Alexandre Marques da Silva Martins - "Experience has shown there has been a need for prudential measures to be imposed on financial services. The global financial crisis of 2007-08 is quite an emblematic example. Therefore, states and financial institutions have united to establish standards as for financial services like the Basel Committee. Only one case about prudential measures in the realm of financial services has been decided thus far at the WTO. In this case, adjudicators heavily utilized the recourse to the ordinary meaning of the main GATS expressions surrounding the prudential measures. This recourse may limit the aid that international norms other than the WTO legislation may provide when resolving issues related to the GATS prudential exception. Still according to the adjudicators, the prudential exception at issue is of evolutionary nature, evolving over time to adapt to particular situations. Besides, there has to be a rational relationship between the measures and their reasons."

International Regulatory Initiatives in Services: Background Note by the Secretariat - WTO Document S/C/W/97

The main goal of the GATS is trading services, roughly 80% of a modern economy and including most jobs. This is an area that most people don't associate with trade nor do they realize that its been put in the hands of the WTO. One important part of the neoliberal project is trade across borders in various kinds of work. Importing workers to do jobs they can do more economically than "locals". (This initiative was only in its earliest stages in 1997 when this Note was written, now that its more than 20 yrs later its much farther along, but, except in a few service sectors like IT, the US is dragging its feet). Eventually the neoliberal project hopes that trillions of dollars "now wasted on over-high wages" could be "saved" and transformed into profits. Basically, like NAFTA, but for the rest of the country's jobs. Under Track Two of the GATS, barriers to global outsourcing, offshoring, etc. of professional and non-professional services such as work permit or visa barriers or anti-discrimination statutes that might impede outsourcing and similar are quietly being eliminated on a global scale. Outsourcing and offshoring jobs that people depend on to eat out from underneath entire countries and generations of workers is a very sensitive subject so the strategy is "Privatization by stealth".

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

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

More worries about GATS (The Guardian letters 2002)

"Under GATS, the more a service is exercised in competition or on a commercial basis the more it appears that a service can be opened to liberalisation. In health, the involvement of the private sector in the NHS may mean that the NHS would fall under Gats rules. The re-emergence of a market in the NHS, the new "localism" of primary care trusts and foundation hospitals which will have their own financial freedoms, the proposed privately run diagnostic and treatment centres, the use of overseas clinical teams, agreements with the independent sector for integrated care and the contracting out of support services call into question the assumption that the NHS is exempt from Gats. Services liberalisation under the Gats could mean the last rites for the NHS and other public services. The government needs to clarify the terms of Gats to ensure public services remain out of reach. What we don't want is to leave the NHS awaiting a trade challenge. We plan to call on the government via the DTI's consultation on Gats to press for greater clarity in its wording, to ensure that public services are exempt and to undertake an impact assessment of the GATS before it commits itself to an irreversible process. Warren Glover Chartered Society of Physiotherapy GLOVERW@csp.org.uk (2002)"

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

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

What's the Matter With NAFTA?

by Elaine Bernard, Harvard University School of Law. "Here's an example from the investment chapter of NAFTA, Chapter 11. Section 4 of Article 1101 on Scope states "Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from providing a service or performing a function, such as law enforcement, correctional services, income security or insurance, social security or insurance, social welfare, public education, public training, health and child care, in a manner that is not inconsistent with this Chapter." This utterly confusing statement is a standard paragraph found in many of the chapters of NAFTA. Double negatives such as "not inconsistent" are common language in many trade agreements. They are a trade lawyer's version of a positive assertion. That is, they allow the drafters to avoid a clear assertion that something is permitted. Instead, activities are crypticly permitted as "not inconsistent." Double, indeed quadruple negatives are positive assertions. Imagine for a moment how the drafters of NAFTA would have phrased the famous quote "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus" into "NAFTAese." It would probably have read, "Yes, Virginia, nothing should be construed to prevent you from believing that the existence of Santa Claus is not inconsistent with reality." But what of the substance of this clause and of similarly written clauses? Here's the real problem. Essentially, it says that the services listed in the paragraph, from corrections to childcare, from public education to social security are to be open to the various investment (and services) provisions of NAFTA. This includes giving companies the rights of national treatment, the right of establishment, and exposing these services to tri-national harmonization. Terrific! This illustrates some of the problems with both the language but also the substance of what is being proposed in this agreement. But why NAFTA, and why now? On the one hand, there is a larger economic story about globalization and the increased mobility of capital, increasing international competition, deregulation, privatization and the business quest for lower wages and higher profits. However, the specific drive behind NAFTA is a business fear that growing public demands for control, called re-regulation, over the excesses of capital and business in the last decades could lead to restrictive legislation. Business fears the possibility of a change in government in all three countries, and it realizes that it could face a change in policy. With NAFTA, business has locked in the policies of Bush, Salinas, Mulroney."

The Selling of "Clinton Lite"

It should be noted that the (WTO) GATS negotiations - part of the Uruguay Round, which "made services tradable", and *took them off the table as something domestic regulations are supposed to be able to change*, (in order to give international investors 'certainty'), had been going on for several years and were wrapped up by 1994. That's a VERY important, easy to verify, fact that most Americans (and Britons it seems as well) have trouble digesting. Also note: There is a companion article to this one, "A Cautionary Tale for David Brooks and Others: What, really, was Jim Cooper’s ‘Clinton Lite?’" URL:https://archives.cjr.org/campaign_desk/a_cautionary_tale_for_david_br.php - Also interesting is an article What's The Matter With NAFTA by Elaine Bernard Harvard School of Law. , especially the portion (also entitled "A Cautionary Tale") starting at the bottom of page 8 Also use Archive.org URL: https://web.archive.org/web/20150611163515/http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/lwp/nafta.pdf

A Cautionary Tale for David Brooks and Others What, really, was Jim Cooper’s ‘Clinton Lite?’

It should be noted that the GATS negotiations - part of the Uruguay Round, which "made services tradable", and took them off the table as something domestic regulations are supposed to be able to change, were wrapping up at the same time this was all going on. Making it qualify as something other than a "debate" over future policy. Instead, its more of a simulacrum. This is still the case today, one should understand. Still, its all worth reading. Note: There is a companion article to this one, which can be found at (Use archive.org) https://web.archive.org/web/20080607133503/http://backissues.cjrarchives.org/year/94/2/clinton.asp

Crowd-Out Ten Years Later: Have Recent Public Insurance Expansions Crowded Out Private Health Insurance?

This concept is important in countries like the US (and UK as part of the EU) who have made GATS and similar commitments, because whatever it does, any public option is not supposed to cut into a co-existing insurance industry's core customers, if it does, the country's laws are subject to challenge by any interested party. (typically a country, like the US) under GATS rules, which are very broad and designed to create and support new rights of corporations, as protected by countries. If a country feels its insurance industry could do better if the other country was forced to "discipline" its domestic regulations to comply with WTO rules. In the case of health care and health insurance, this key gotcha would not apply in a country where there was a single payer system like Canada's - Don't confuse a system like England's (whose NHS, despite its dominant position, is only a 'public option' therefore quite vulnerable to external challenges) with Canada's (totally single payer+exempt) . See discussions elsewhere on here of "GATS Article I:3" and the "Governmental Authority Exclusion" - use the keyword/tag interface - currently in the left hand column, you may need to scroll down, to find them.

Fed Economist Cheers Middle Class Squeeze

"This isn’t one rogue economist. This is a highly trained government official in a position of authority who says he just doesn’t care whether cities are places where the middle class can live. His remark is entirely in keeping with a decades-long series of policy decisions that makes life for the middle class last priority. A new Brookings Report shows that the middle is disappearing from New York, San Francisco, and dozens of other cities. And that’s just peachy, says the only government official quoted in the story. If no one really cares, then how much easier will it be to cut loose the middle class entirely? Why worry about predatory lending and home mortgage foreclosures, why regulate tricks and traps in credit cards or payday lenders, why fix public schools or think about how to provide universal health insurance? The rich are doing fine, and, according to the Federal Reserve economist, so long as service labor can be imported from elsewhere, life without the middle class goes on very nicely."

The Great Divide: Rich People Just Care Less

Why do wealthy people often act dismissively to, or ignore those they perceive as below them in class? A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power. This tuning out has been observed, for instance, with strangers in a mere five-minute get-acquainted session, where the more powerful person shows fewer signals of paying attention, like nodding or laughing. The more powerful were less compassionate toward the hardships described by the less powerful. Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at Berkeley, and Michael W. Kraus, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, have done much of the research on social power and the attention deficit...

The Practical Utility of (physician) GAG CLAUSE legislation. (1998)

"State legislatures and the U.S. Congress are currently engaged in efforts to prohibit “gag” clauses in physician contracts.1, 2 These clauses, promulgated by managed care organizations (MCOs) and other such health plans, prohibit physicians from frankly discussing all treatment options, covered or uncovered, expensive or inexpensive, that could be of benefit to the patient. For example, one clause reads: “Do NOT discuss proposed treatments with [health plan] members prior to receiving authorization. Do NOT discuss the [utilization oversight] process with members. Do NOT give out [plan's oversight] phone number to members.”"

“Right now, the deck is stacked against patients,” “Healthcare reform is not going to change the ball game.”

By Lisa Girion, Los Angeles Times - (October 2010) "Yet a patient’s ability to fight insurers’ coverage decisions could be more important than ever because Congress, in promoting cost containment and price competition, may actually add to the pressure on insurers to deny requests for treatment. "By requiring insurers to cover everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions, healthcare reform will make it more difficult for insurers to control their costs, or “bend the cost curve,” by avoiding sick people. That leaves insurers with the other big cost-containment tool: turning down requests to cover treatments. “There are going to be a lot of denials,” said insurance industry analyst Robert Laszewski, a former health insurance executive. “I am not setting insurance companies up to be villains. But we are telling them to bend the cost curve. How else are they going to bend the cost curve?” Experts said the legislation under consideration does not significantly enhance patient protections against insurers refusing to cover requests for treatment. Most people currently have no right to challenge health insurers’ treatment decisions by suing them for damages."

G.A.T.S. and Universities: implications for research.

by David Packham, Sci Eng Ethics 9, 85-100(2003) The likely impact of applying the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) to higher education are examined. GATS aims to "open up" services to competition: no preference can be shown to national or government providers. The consequences for teaching are likely to be that private companies, with degree-awarding powers, would be eligible for the same subsidies as public providers. Appealing to the inadequate recently-introduced "benchmark" statements as proof of quality, they would provide a "bare bones" service at lower cost. Public subsidies would go: education being reduced that minimum which could be packaged in terms of verifiable "learning outcomes". The loss of "higher" aspirations, such education of critically-minded citizens of a democratic and civilised society would impoverish the university's research culture which demands honesty and openness to public scrutiny.

American Health Care Horror Stories: An Incomplete Inventory

The statistics demonstrating the scope of our nation’s healthcare crisis are appalling enough. Two of three Americans report skipping needed care each year due to cost, including not filling prescriptions or putting off doctor visits. Millions are forced to borrow money to pay medical bills, leading to crushing debt. Others can’t get the care they need even by borrowing, and suffer fatal consequences: physician researchers estimate tens of thousands of Americans die each year due to inability to afford care.

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

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

TiSA - Foul Play

by Prof. Jane Kelsey (pub by UNI Global Union) This is an up to date overview of TISA and its global attack on public services of all kinds, as well as a strong, concise explanation of what its aims are. Creation of a global corporate superstate that limits the powers of nation states and by extension, all voters, all of humanity, to regulate even the most important sections of their economies. It's a must read on the extremely undemocratic TISA agreement.

Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers

Planemaker and suppliers used lower-paid temporary workers. Engineers feared the practice meant code wasn’t done right. It remains the mystery at the heart of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max crisis: how a company renowned for meticulous design made seemingly basic software mistakes leading to a pair of deadly crashes. Longtime Boeing engineers say the effort was complicated by a push to outsource work to lower-paid contractors. The Max software -- plagued by issues that could keep the planes grounded months longer after U.S. regulators this week revealed a new flaw -- was developed at a time Boeing was laying off experienced engineers and pressing suppliers to cut costs.

AFSC:Trade Agreements and Guest Worker Programs

Trade agreements lock in entitlements for foreign firms to take publicly funded jobs if they are the lowest qualified bidders, they also must give foreign companies such abnormally favorable conditions that it is almost certain they will be.

AFSC: State issues affecting Government Procurement

"Don’t Make Trade Commitments Affecting Our State Unless We Authorize It," "Does WTO Limit Local Authority? Proposed Commission Would Explore Impact of “Free Trade”" many others (trade agreements offshore millions of public service jobs like teaching, construction, and nursing, as a bargaining chip in global power, they potentially block domestic programs like Green New Deal, public housing, rent control, zoning restrictions, etc.)

Informal Brief: The WTO Services Negotiations and Migrant Workers (AFSC)

As the World Trade Organization (WTO) gears up for the next ministerial meeting to be held December 2005 in Hong Kong, some developing country governments are pushing for an expansion of the types of labor currently covered under the services agreement. Under the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS), services are categorized into four “modes”. These include: Mode 1 ­ Providing services abroad Mode 2 ­ Consumption of services abroad Mode 3 ­ Commercial Presence ­ Subsidiary branches including service providers such as a banks, hospitals, or construction ­firms that are owned by a foreign company Mode 4 – Temporary movement of natural persons (workers) acro ss boarders to provide services Mode 4 and temporary workers Sectors currently covered under GATS Mode 4 commitments focus on highly skilled jobs, such as doctors, nurses, company executives—sectors favored by current visa systems. Also favored by current commitments are categories of special importance to Mode 3, commercial presence, such as intra­company transferees. Some developing country governments want to expand services covered under Mode 4 to include medium and low ­skilled workers, such as domestic help or construction, thus covering sectors in which they hold a competitive advantage.