Alarm raised over services trade pact
LABOUR rights groups and environmental campaigners have sounded the alarm over a prospective trade agreement covering the services sector currently being hammered out behind closed doors in Geneva.
Activists warned the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) could spearhead a vast privatisation drive in public services worldwide while hampering efforts to implement the Paris climate agreement.
TiSA is being negotiated by 22 countries and the EU, and aims to liberalise the sprawling services sector that covers all intangible goods – from financial services to transport to healthcare.
Few details have emerged from the negotiations that have been taken place since 2013, although certain countries have published position papers and some documents have been leaked, including by Wikileaks. Activists claim it aims to give far too much influence to corporations.
Greenpeace Netherlands campaigner Susan Cohen Jehoram raised specific concerns about possible TiSA measures that would deregulate the energy services and mining sectors.
Citing the leaked, provisional documents, Ms Jehoram said TiSA “includes measures that tie the hands of the very policy makers who are trying to implement the Paris climate agreement”.
Public Services International, an umbrella union representing millions of public sector workers worldwide, were concerned over possible moves to push through privatisation in areas ranging from postal services to water supply.
“Do we really want to handcuff our governments’ ability to regulate innovations that we can’t conceive of at the present time?” Daniel Bertossa, director of policy and governance at PSI, told reporters.
Before the briefing, a handful of Greenpeace activists staged a demonstration outside the US Mission in Geneva.
TiSA negotiators – including the United States, Turkey and Australia – have said they want to finalise a deal by the end of the year.